Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay

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Great works of literature are capable of creating worlds where the characters and their environments come alive as we read. Hamlet, one of the masterworks of William Shakespeare, is one of the best examples of a complex characterization and a splendid use of setting rarely achieved with such genius by writers.


According to Lee Jacobus, "Setting refers to the environment, the physical place and time, in which the story takes place". (Jacobus, 68). This means that it refers not only to the physical world and time where the play is set, but also the social environment of the characters. This can include: customs, manners, moral values that rule the society. In Hamlet, the setting is much more than simply Elsinore, Denmark. Shakespeare establishes Elsinore as a dark, morally backward environment where corruption and deception, rather than truth and honor, thrive. This powerful setting consumes nearly all the characters that come in contact with it within the play.
All aspects of society and culture in Denmark are penetrated by the deep stain of corruption and deception. Not surprisingly, an underlying theme throughout this work is one of hypocrisy and false appearances. For example, Hamlet characterizes his fellow Danes when he muses that "one may smile and smile and be a villain./ At least I am sure is may be so in Denmark" (1.5.115-116). For in Denmark, things are not always how they outwardly seem. Hamlet also justifiably refers to Denmark as "an unweeded garden" (1.2.139). This poignant imagery suggests that the gardener, or king is responsible for allowing his garden, or kingdom, to become infested with evil. An air of distrust is also a constant looming presence in Hamlet. ...
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