A. P. Literature How does Shakespeare express theme through language? Shakespeare, an extraordinary writer, uses many literary techniques which prove his mastery of English. His most fascinating technique however, is displaying theme through language. In his play “Hamlet”, Shakespeare uses language to address existential dilemma, truth, and death. These themes significantly shape “Hamlet” into the masterpiece it is. In his play, Shakespeare expresses existential dilemma through Hamlet. Hamlet’s life so far has gone roughly in a negative direction.
His father, the King of Hamlet, has passed away; and disappointingly, Hamlet comes back to a crowd that is busy acknowledging the new king, Claudius, and is forgetting about the death of his father. Shakespeare uses language to express theme through Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To be, or not to be”. In his soliloquy, Hamlet asks himself whether he should kill himself, or keep going. Hamlet illustrates the strain that many people feel at one point or another, the world is just too much. Another theme that Shakespeare expresses in his play through language is truth. For a “madman” such as Hamlet, he is pretty intent on getting his facts straight.
Hamlet wants to be sure Claudius is his father’s murderer before he takes any drastic action. After being enraged by his father’s speech, Hamlet tries to find out the truth. In Act 3, Scene 2, Hamlet stages a play called “Mousetrap”, which portrays the death scene his father described. During that scene, Hamlet intends to watch Claudius to see if he expresses guilt. Through language, Shakespeare shows truth. Hamlet goes to great measures of finding out what is true; expressing a view that believing if another is honest is a matter of great trust, or great naivete. Lastly, Shakespeare expresses through language the theme of death.
In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet encounters death through his father’s ghost, and in Polonius’s and Ophelia’s demises. These run ins prompt Hamlet to look at death through different angles. For instance, the ghost of his father causes Hamlet to think about the spiritual aftermath of death. After Polonius’s death in Act 4, Hamlet compares death to the “Worm that ate the king’s corpse, that might be used to catch a fish to feed a beggar”. In other words, Shakespeare comments that death is a great equalizer, or as a stepping stone to truth away from an ambiguous dishonest world.
Hamlet is a play that strongly represents the themes of the world through the language of art. Shakespeare enforces his views of the world through events that can be decoded into many messages. With just a few characters and occurrences, Shakespeare is able to illustrate themes such as existential dilemma, truth, and death. Through its many ingenious themes, “Hamlet” can be considered an outline of the treacherous world we live in. If you take anything for granted, or trust everything you hear, your path will become a difficult one.
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