Grief In Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

1120 words - 4 pages

According to Webster’s Desk Dictionary, grief is defined as “keen mental suffering over affection or loss” (397). Various characters in Hamlet choose to deal with grief in different ways, with many of their methods harmful in the end. Ophelia is dealt two setbacks during the course of the play, one being her father’s death and the other being Hamlet’s disrespectful treatment. Her brother Laertes must also deal with Polonius’s death, as well as Ophelia’s. From the beginning of the play, Hamlet grieves over his father’s murder. His grief is what sparks his quest for revengeand his battle to kill Claudius.


 Throughout the play, grief takes center stage in many of thecharacter’s lives, but they all choose to react in a different fashion. Grief takes many distinct shapes and forms and until people learn how to overcome it, it will remain an integral part of life.  One way to escape grief is to commit suicide, as Ophelia apparently does. Thegravedigger proclaims, “Is she to be buried in Christian burial that willfully seeks her own salvation” (Act V Scene I Lines 1-2). The gravedigger is wondering why a woman who has taken her own life deserves such a fancy funeral. When the Queen informs Laertes and Claudius  of Ophelia’s death, she says, “...she[Ophelia] chanted snatches of old tunes” (Act IV Scene VII Line 195). Ophelia did not know how to express her grief, other than in song. In Act IV, she sings of Polonius, “He is dead and gone, lady, he is dead and gone” (Scene V Lines 31-32).

Suicide AwarenessVoices of Education (SAVE) proclaims, “When a person faces his grief, allows his feelings to come, speaks of his is then that the focus is to move from death and dying and to promote life and living” (“When the Worst Has Happened” 2). Ophelia is not able tocome right out and speak of her difficulty dealing with death. She resorts to her singing. The Gentleman in Act IV says of Ophelia, “She speaks much of her father...speaks things in doubt, that carry half sense...” (Act IV Scene V Lines 5-8). She cannot come to an understanding of what is happening in her life. SAVE declares, “Not understanding the individuality of grief could complicate and delay whatever grief we might experience from our own loss” (“When the Worst Has Happened” 2). Ophelia does not deal with grief in a successful manner, nor does her brother. Laertes does not show his grief with tears, as does his sister, but he is a man of action. In Act V he exclaims, “...and therefore I forbid my tears” (Scene I Line 205). No two people will experience the same grief for the same amount of time or for the same intensity (“When the WorstHas Happened” 2). Laertes does not express much grief over the death of his father, but thereader knows he is in mourning by the way he wants to take action against Hamlet. He, with the help of Claudius, concocts an intricate plan to murder Hamlet in a fencing duel. “Anger is a form of energy,” according to...

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