To say that Hamlet bears no resemblance nor relevance to everyday people’s lives would be an uninformed statement. When further examined, the intuition into our current society that Hamlet provides becomes abundantly clear. For example, the many themes and motifs present in Shakespeare’s Hamlet parallel issues that are relevant in our current society. Themes such as revenge, deception, mental health, etc.
Firstly, the theme of revenge appears to be the most notable theme that reflects heavily in both Hamlet and current society. Throughout Shakespeare’s Hamlet, readers are able to understand that revenge plays a large part of what drives Hamlet along with the play. The main character, Prince Hamlet, is driven heavily by his powerful desire of avenging his father’s death, which we learn in Act I, Scene V was in fact a murder when a ghost claiming to be his father’s spirit reveals that his death was a foul and most unnatural murder (I.v.25). Hamlet is appalled by this information and when his father’s ghost tells him that it was his own brother who committed this act, Hamlet is filled with fury and swears revenge.
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Furthermore, our current society is fascinated with revenge and twists it into their own interpretation of it. For example, the media depicts revenge as sweet revenge and this interpretation becomes very wide-scale within society. There are many instances when revenge is made a central theme within films, tv shows, and novels where a central and heroic character is on a quest for revenge and the concept of revenge is depicted as sweet. It makes the people think that revenge is fulfilling and is the only end goal. However, Hamlet disputes these common thoughts of revenge with a more realistic case when Hamlet’s case of revenge ends up being a bittersweet achievement that was obtained with a large cost. Shakespeare’s Hamlet depicts the hero as a representation of mankind, blinded by a lust for revenge that eventually leads him astray and towards evil. Consequently, everything around Hamlet becomes destroyed as well which shows that revenge is not sweet but in fact destructive and toxic. This parallels our current society when people seek their own forms of revenge in search for the sweet ending they think they will obtain but instead cause nothing but more pain and hurt.
Revenge is not the only theme that is present in our everyday lives, however. Deception also plays a large part of Hamlet because every character is affected by deception in some way which also resembles modern society. The play highlights the serious consequences that deception can have on relationships and other people. For example, two characters’ lives are taken because of a lie and while it may be more dramatic than our normal lives, the principle remains the same. Lies are a form of deception as we see in Hamlet and it can have just as much impact on people as the play warns. For example, at some point in all of our lives, we have told a lie and whether it was a big lie or a small lie, it affected someone else around us. In my own life, there was a time a couple years ago when I was caught lying about my whereabouts and all that did was lessen the amount of trust my parents had in me and it hurt them knowing that I had lied to them. Many people in our society can relate to this story and they learn one way or another that lies and deception is only destructive and hurtful. Shakespeare warns readers through Hamlet about impact of deception and the consequences it can have.
Another theme present in both Hamlet and our lives is mental health. While it may not be a large and very apparent theme, it is still there and it is still highlighted within the play. Shakespeare uses madness as a way to talk about the impact of mental health on people. Reader see madness in Hamlet when Ophelia becomes unstable and mad when she is no longer able to tolerate the disarray around her and the struggles of her own mind. This particular aspect of the play is heavily present in our current society as many people struggle with mental health in their own way. The struggle is all around us whether it is in plain sight or not. For example, my life is similar to the play in that way because I know of many people who struggle with mental health. The struggle with mental health does not necessarily mean things like schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, but can mean anxiety disorder. Many people around me, myself included, struggle with anxiety and it may be a chronic condition or a fleeting moment but either way it is largely present in our lives and Hamlet details this struggle.
The final theme in Hamlet that is present in our everyday lives is immorality. Immorality is abundantly present within Hamlet in the decisions that Hamlet makes. Hamlet is the central character and representation of mankind and he symbolizes how people can do wrong but believe it is for the right reasons. In our society, many people do immoral things often times on a daily basis and Shakespeare warns about the consequences that can result from these acts through Hamlet when Hamlet is ultimately reaches his downfall as a consequence of his immorality throughout the play. This theme parallels real life in that many people commit various acts of immorality and it always leads to destruction and hurt.
Finally, Shakespeare’s Hamlet provides a larger life lesson through the use of common themes that are present in people’s everyday lives. Shakespeare provides readers with a lesson about our actions by using real life vices and problems in Hamlet and showing us the possible outcomes of this should we fail to heed the warning.
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