Grief in "Hamlet"

Essay by r__tellHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2006

download word file, 11 pages 0.0

Grief is a universal emotion felt by everyone at some point or another during the course of their lives. Its effects can be very diverse and adverse, causing different people to act in very different ways. It is very unpredictable because it is unique for each person, thus it is difficult to ease or even ascertain. It is accompanied by many other painful and confusing emotions and if not dealt with properly, it may prove to be cataclysmic. The theme of grief is quite prevalent throughout William Shakespeare's "Hamlet", as virtually every character in the play experiences it. In fact, all of the main characters experience this emotion before the play is through. Grief has many causes and as a result, many outcomes, but the one thing that remains the same is that it has a profound effect on each person it touches.

Grief is sometimes caused by feelings of guilt or remorse, and in cases such as this, it affects the sufferer by making the burden of guilt even more substantial.

Oftentimes, feelings of guilty grief are intensified by placing too much blame on oneself. For example, Ophelia, who is being used by her own father and her king, tries to do what she thinks is best to help her love, Hamlet. She is told that this is the right thing to do, but suffers as a result of doing it. Polonius and Claudius use her to spy on Hamlet, but when the plan miscarries, she is the one who feels "...most deject and wretched..." saying: "[I] that sucked the honey of his musicked vows" (Hamlet, III, I, 169-170). Ophelia already feels bad for having to lie to Hamlet, but this negative feeling is amplified by the fact that she completely blames...