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In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, regarding a Danish prince whose uncle murders his father, weds his mother, and claims the throne there are many different aspects of the play which make it one of the most mystifying and all time favorite American plays ever written. Among these, some of the key aspects are the themes of the play comprised of a mystery story, ghost story, and story of revenge.
In the story of Hamlet there is a great deal of mystery which never really ends. The first mystery that we encounter is the question of whether or not the ghost really is Hamlet’s deceased father or not. The Ghost appears at Elsinor to Marcellus, Barnardo, & Horatio in the opening scene. Then Horatio goes to speak to Hamlet telling him, “A figure like your father…Appears before them and with solemn march…”(Act 1.). Hamlet has reservations about whether or not the figure they had seen was his father or not so he decides to go see for himself. In Act 1.5 Hamlet speaks privately to the ghost when he proceeds to tell Hamlet that, “I am thy father’s spirit…Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder…Now, Hamlet hear. ‘Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did thing thy father’s life Now wears his crown.” With each passing word Hamlet stands in disbelief, not knowing whether or not he should believe this figure that stands before him or if it is an evil spirit trying to manipulate Hamlet into doing immoral acts.
Thus being one of the biggest mysteries of the play, the ghost is also another major theme of the story. The ghost sets the tone of the play by tying all three of the themes together. With the coming of the ghost, Hamlet becomes to act very suspicious to leave Claudius speculating about what he has up his sleeve. Hamlet begins to go along with the ghost in believing that his uncle, Claudius, really did kill his father. The Ghost also makes sure that Gertrude can not see him in Act III.4 when he speaks to Hamlet telling him, “Do not forget. This visitation Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. But look, amazement on thy mother sits. O, step between her and her fighting soul! Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works. Speak to her Hamlet.”. The ghost also keeps reiterating to Hamlet the importance of getting revenge on Claudius.
The final theme of the play is revenge. We hear of revenge all throughout the play starting with the ghosts request to Hamlet to avenge his murder. Hamlet speaks of getting revenge on his uncle for his father’s death, but before he does this he puts on a play in which his father’s death is acted out to get Claudius’ reaction. Hamlet gets to avenge his father’s death, but not before he is struck with a poisoned tip by Laertes who got his revenge on Hamlet for taking his father’s life, Polonius. Fortinbras wants revenge on Denmark to avenge his father’s name because he was killed by the late Hamlet. All through the play he is in the background and finally gets his revenge at the end by taking over the kingdom.
The three themes of Hamlet, the mystery, ghost, and revenge stories all sum up why William Shakespeare’s drama of Hamlet is among the most loved and confusing stories of all time. There is always some mystery left unsolved and room for the audience to interpret things how they see fit.
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