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Hamlet is perhaps the most famous play of alienation ever written. While this essay will concentrate on the character of Hamlet himself, many other characters also exhibit alienation in the course of the play. Ophelia is alienated by her misunderstanding of Hamlet's actions, Polonius by the fact that his trite philosophy ("to thine own self be true etc.) cannot explain the subtleties of actual human behavior…
* Alienation can be seen within Hamlet's soliloquies, his conversations with other characters and within his actions.
Hamlet may be regarded as the prototype for the scores of "angry young men" what have populated literature, poetry, plays and latterly films since he first appeared on the stage. Hamlet's alienation is personified by his opening line:
It is the fact that his first line is an aside that so perfectly encapsulates his alienation from a society that he should be the center of. He does not speak the line to his Uncle, or even the Court, but rather as an inward comment aimed at breaking the third wall of the stage for the audience. He is alienated from his world, and part of ours because of it.
As the play continues Hamlet's alienation deepens and starts to influence many of those around him. When he decides to put "an antic disposition on" (I.5, 175) the question arises for the rest of the play whether he is playing at being mad, genuinely mad, or perhaps both. Here is the second part of "alienation" - madness that removes a person from the common spheres of reality. ...
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