Hamlet, Moral Truths, Redemption and a Just Society
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Prince Hamlet, having returned home from school in Germany arrives to an upsetting scene to say the least. His father, King Hamlet is dead and his mother Gertrude has already remarried. Not just to any man either, the king’s brother Claudius who has already taken possession of the throne. As the gravity of the situation continues to sink in for Prince Hamlet he begins to suspect correctly that his uncle Claudius was responsible for his father’s death.
Hamlet’s suspicions are confirmed when his father’s ghost visits him to tell him he was murdered. King Hamlet encourages young Hamlet to seek vengeance against his uncle. As Hamlet resolves to do just that, he begins to wonder about the veracity of the ghost and its visits. Hamlet’s fears overcome him and he becomes paralyzed emotionally, unable to fulfill the requests of his father’s ghost. He cares for both his parents and works himself into a stupor trying to decide how to execute his plan of action. In the meantime Hamlet sets in motion a series of catastrophic events that cause the deaths of six people besides Claudius who he originally planned to kill. Hamlet seeks redemption from his miserable situation by contemplating suicide. His continuous lamenting and depression give us insight into his internal conflict and torment. Suicide is not the usual mode of redemption found in most storylines, as with many themes of redemption there is a more positive savior provided.
We may be able to draw the conclusion that Hamlet’s eventual death does bring him redemption and freedom from the indecision and chaos around him. In a roundabout way, Laertes, Hamlet’s eventual murderer may be seen as the person who finally brings Hamlet closure and redemption. Ophelia, who is in love with Hamlet, expresses a moral truth that she values when she tells her brother Laertes that she believes both men and women should guard their chastity. This is one of the few times in the play that Ophelia exerts an opinion instead of giving in to the orders of another individual. Feeling overwhelmed, controlled and hopeless herself, Ophelia seeks redemption through her own suicide by drowning. Ophelia’s eventual demise can be paralleled to the decline in moral values in today’s society specifically concerning young women.
As women and girls attempt to conform to the world’s standards for them they only lose themselves more and become a slave to those ideals which can destroy women on many levels. A demonstration of a just society is attempted where people are punished fairy for their sins and are not left to take the law and matters into their own hands. If a just society had been more influential within Hamlet’s kingdom in Denmark, many of the tragedies would not have occurred. A just society is contingent upon moral truths which each person must possess. These internalized moral truths facilitate working for the common good and restrict a person from acting upon their own destructive thoughts that could potentially lead to the downfall of their society.
As Hamlet lay dying, wounded by Laertes’ poisoned sword he announces the kingdom of Demark will be passed on to the King Fortenbras of Norway. The last scene culminates the redemptive qualities of a just society as the new King of Denmark holds a funeral with military honors for Hamlet.