The play Hamlet by Shakespeare has a lot of uncertainties. These range from the madness of Hamlet, the personality of Ophelia, and the intent of the ghost; there is quite a bit that remains for the audience to decipher in Hamlet. This ambiguousness makes Hamlet attract the attention of the audience as well as gives them the challenge to have a critical analysis of the play. The character and theme of conflict becomes apparent when analyzing the ambiguity within Hamlet.
The profusion of conflict within Hamlet shows the ambiguity in play. One instance of ambiguity is the conflict between Hamlet and Claudius. A major uncertainty in Hamlet is whether Claudius was aware of the knowledge that Hamlet had regarding the murder crime on his father before a re-enactment of the story of the murder. There is also an instance where Claudius denies Hamlet the chance to leave for Denmark when he says "For your intent in going back to school in Wittenberg...it is most retrograde to our desire and we beseech you to remain here." (1.2.113-116 However, later he sends Hamlet to England. His unexpected decision making left the audience in a state of uncertainty regarding whether he knew that Hamlet was aware of his murderous act. The uncertainty surrounding Hamlet's conflicts calls for the audience to be critical thinkers. Through an omission of certain aspects of the conflict, the attention of the audience is drawn to important points that Shakespeare is trying to make an emphasis on. The audience is forced to concentrate on the important aspects of the play or the parts that create a thematic build up.
The use ambiguity is also intended to create a stronger emphasis on other important themes in Hamlet. Shakespeare employs ambiguity in an effort to raise questions concerning societal values. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding death as a theme in Hamlet. This can be proven in the soliloquy "To be or not to be" by Hamlet. Two extreme situations are the subject of a struggle when Hamlet is indecisive on whether to commit suicide or continue living. When Hamlet claims that "conscience makes cowards of us all," (3.1.83) Shakespeare is referring to mankind in general. In that instance, the audience is obligated to have a reflection of why they exist in the first place. Questions arise on the value of life "when he himself might his quietus make/ with a bare bodkin" (3.1.75-76). Therefore, he did not come make a resolution as to whether life or death was the better option when bombarded with destitution, hence the audience is left I a state of uncertainty as to which decision is the best for him. Through the uncertainty in the theme, Shakespeare is alluding to the views of the society regarding revenge, truth, and death. Consequently, it is upon the audience to reflect upon their own beliefs and morality on the issue. Therefore, ambiguity is shown through indecisiveness in the play.
The third basis for the ambiguity in Hamlet is the character of Ophelia. Her words and actions; notwithstanding the actions of Hamlet around when they are around each other make it possible to form various hypotheses concerning the character that she portrays. When Hamlet says to her, "Get thee to a nunnery," (3.1.121) the audience is made to believe that he is asking to become a nun at a convent and remain pure, or telling her to go to a brothel; words meant to denounce the way she behaved. It may also be a portrayal of her promiscuity. The words "Do not as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, while like a puffed and reckless libertine, himself the primrose path of dalliance treads/ and recks not his own ride" (1.3.47-51) shows how much knowledge she possesses on issues that her beloved brother does not wish that she knows and that her innocence is only outwardly.
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