The Dutys In Hamlet

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Hamlet and the duties he performs in life.

There are several laws that must be generally followed in life. They could be along the lines of "Always try your best" or "Be true to thyself". Whatever they may be, there are some of these "˜laws' that are applied when it comes to an individual's duties.

Duties are things that each person is responsible for. Whether the duty lies to friends, family or to ones own self, it must be followed. Sometimes however duties can interfere and greatly restrict the way people act. In literature this is greatly explained, for it comes from the author's personal experiences. One good example is in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Over the course of the first act, Hamlet is enclined by his duties and sometimes restricts his actions and decisions. Friends are people that may come and go over the course of life. From day to day you do not know which friends will remain or which new ones will emerge as a friend.

Even though this is true, there is still that unwritten law about doing your duties to keep the friendship alive. Hamlet's friendship with Horatio is unmatched. Over the course of the play the bond as well as the level of trust grows between them. Hamlet feels betrayed by almost every other character in the play except for Horatio. When the ghost appeared both Bernardo and Marcellus were too afraid and uncertain to tell Hamlet. Instead they called upon the scholar Horatio who, upon sight of the ghost, told Hamlet of his fathers' new appearance. Hamlet reacts very surprising to Horatio's statement, but very much appreciates it. "Your love, as mine to you: farewell." ( I, ii, 253 ) Hamlet regards his respect and liking of his friend as love. Love is a very strong word for Hamlet to use when describing his feelings for a friend. Hamlet also asks the guards and Horatio to keep their tongues silent on the matter of what they had seen. He has enough respect for these men that he, Prince of Denmark, would ask peasant guards to keep silent. Horatio in turn has the respect to be good enough friends with Hamlet for him to be the one to speak to him of the ghost, and refer to him in the name of "˜My Lord'. With respect comes trust. But trust is a long way from love. It takes an extra type of a friendship and a very high level of trust to be able to state his love for his friend, Horatio. Horatio's duty in the matter of the ghost of the king was to tell Hamlet immediately. In turn, Hamlet's duty towards Horatio is to show his respect and state his gratitude for him. Although friends may not be blood, there are some instances where they may seem more important than family.

Family is one of the most important voids that must be filled in order to sustain a good life. No matter what family member it is, there is an unspoken duty that must be fulfilled, respect. If family is not a big part in life, then friends sometimes fill that void.

All people have that void, and all have that longing to fill it with love. There are some instances where duty must take precedent in some relationships. A mother - son relationship is one example of this. There must be a mutual respect present for the relationship to continue in bliss. Hamlet's relationship with his mother should be shattered. She has done to him one of the most hurtful things available to mankind, betrayal. She has betrayed his father's spirit by a mere two months later has married his brother, Hamlet's uncle. His mother still demands respect from him by asking him to stay in Denmark instead of returning to Wittenberg. Hamlet replies by saying, "I shall in all my best obey you, madam." ( I, ii, 120) Hamlet is the better person in this and can accept his duty as a son to respect his mother. By saying "all my best" he is not only saying he will merely do as she wishes. He is downright saying he will do everything in his power to abide by his mother's wishes. This sheds a lot of light into the character of Hamlet. It shows that even though someone he cares about deeply is disrespecting him and his father, he can rise above and show the respect his duty to his mother requires. Duty to a family member is a lot more important than to a friend. The most important duty that one can acquire is to ones self.

To ones self you owe a great deal of respect and gratitude. Without respect for ones self then what kind of person will emerge? Hamlet has a great deal of respect for many people, and a good portion of it to himself. Hamlet has a duty to himself, in his eye, to believe in his father and stand up against the new king, Claudius. The first thing that Hamlet actually says in the play is a pun which is sarcastic and rude towards the man that has invaded his house. Claudius asks Hamlet whether the dark gloomy clouds still hang around him. His reply, " Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun" ( I, i, 67 ) shows both the respect that he does have for someone named "King", by calling him lord, and also the sarcasm he shows towards Claudius. Hamlet is a decent man, and he will even call the basis of all his troubles by the title that the person is entitled to. Hamlet saying that he is too much in the sun has two meanings. One, that he is no longer upset and that those dark gloomy clouds around him have risen and disappeared. Two, He uses the word sun to also mean son. By this he means that he is not over his feelings mourning, due to his loyalty and duty as a son. Hamlet shows the duty to himself in this as well by becoming bold enough to call Claudius "My lord" and represent the upstanding individual he is.

Throughout the first act of the play, as in life, there are many instances where a person's duty shows up and they choose to either acknowledge and obey it or forget about it entirely. Whether it is the duty towards a friend, a family member or to thyself with duty comes along a sense of respect. If you disregard you duty, you are disrespecting the duty that you are expected of. Hamlet is a very good character to delve into in this. He has the respect and trust qualities about him that make him a good friend. He is respectful and loyal to his family which helps him fulfill his duties towards them. He is a very independent person who can respect himself and stands up for what he believes in.

Hamlet is one who acts out the duties that most individuals are presented with during the course of their life.