Theme of Disgust in 'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare

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In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Hamlet, the titular character uses various literary devices to reveal and visualize his internal conflicts. This seventeenth-century tragedy depicts Hamlet struggling with the death of his father, King Hamlet, and the marriage between his mother and his uncle, Claudius, which bothers Hamlet deeply as for him it is too soon for his mother to marry for it to be normal. Throughout the play, Hamlet is alone and begins to talk to himself and ponders about his situation. Hamlet's soliloquy in act one scene two depicts a theme of disgust by his use of metaphors, hyperboles, and similes to depict his genuine disgust of his status quo.

In act one scene two we are introduced to one of Hamlet’s soliloquies, an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present. Hamlet’s mood is introduced instantly when he starts his first soliloquy with a metaphor, and we can see that Hamlet is in a low point in his life when he says, “Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt/ Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew” (1.2.129-130). We can assume he is in a low point in his life when he uses the word “melt” as it could mean he does not want to be in his skin, giving this metaphor a sense of dejection. With the idea of his mother marrying his uncle all that he could think about is death, he is depressed in the sense that the world is crumbling around him, and he can’t do anything about it. The use of the word “sullied” can help justify his wording in that line. Sullied by definition is to soil, and thinking that something is soiled, by his depressed tone we can assume that he is talking about people. In his mind, he thinks that the people around him are soiled, tarnished, and corrupt. We can assume his disgust, by the actions of his mother moving on so quickly and marrying his uncle giving him the idea that his mother and possibly other people are corrupt. In this line of Hamlet’s soliloquy we can see how he begins the line very angry and harshly when using the word “melt” then subtly brings down his anger with the word “thaw”. We can see how he has these harsh outbursts of anger and depression to calming down and mellowing down his mood. The use of metaphor can be used in the way of depicting one's feelings by not clearly depicting ones full emotions.

Metaphors are sprinkled throughout Hamlet's soliloquies, he uses them to paints an image by saying something is something else. Hamlet uses a metaphor to depict the world around him when he says, “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/ Seem to be all the uses of this world!/ Fie on’t, ah fie! ‘Tis an unweeded garden/ That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature/ Possess it merely” (1.2.133-137). The image he paints in these lines is that of a garden that should be blooming with plants and vegetation, but it is not, the garden has gone barren and filled with weeds killing the garden. By Hamlet painting this image he is saying that the world is worthless to him. Hamlet is in a deep state of depression and when he speaks these words he implies that there is nothing in his life worth living, he exemplifies that life is the “unweeded garden/ That grows to seed” as in life seems to be beautiful but it can soon be filled with corruption and hatred very unexpectedly. He is saying that the world around him is filled with corruption with the words he uses like “rank” and “gross” alongside the “unweeded garden” meaning he despises life at the moment and is miserable with the people he is surrounded by and is angered by his uncle taking the throne as well as his mother marrying his uncle. Hamlet's use of metaphor can justify his disgust with the images he paints and comparing them to his real world experience.

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