A Literary Analysis of Hamlet
Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, is a tragedy of love, grief, and revenge. Throughout the play, we are presented with the titular character’s thoughts and contemplations regarding death, as well as his grief for his father and his love for Ophelia. As is customary of Shakespeare, much of the play’s subtler aspects were referenced only in metaphor, and it is these metaphors we will explore below.
Of these metaphors, one of the most important of the play’s metaphors can be found in the form of Yorick’s skull. Hamlet, who constantly broods about death and what it entails, discovers the skull of Yorick, a jester whom he once loved in his youth. The skull represents the stark finality of death, a physical reminder of the fact that death comes to them all in the end. Hamlet, upon being met with the skull, contemplates the finality of death as well as the vanity of life, going so far as to contrast Yorick, a jester, to Alexander the Great. Hamlet, upon contemplation, realizes that despite both men leaving different marks upon the world and filling different roles whilst alive, they both still met death in the end.
Furthermore, the graveyard itself can be construed as a metaphor and a direct contrast to the royal court. In Act 1 of the play, Hamlet is told whilst in the royal court to not waste thoughts on those who are dead. The dead are gone and thinking of them will not bring them back. In the graveyard, however, this is not the case. Here, Hamlet is allowed to contemplate death openly, for the graveyard is in itself a place of death and remembrance. Thus, it is here that Hamlet can finally come to terms with his own brooding and innermost thoughts regarding death.
Thus, the graveyard and the scenes within are a turning point for Hamlet as a character, allowing his previous contemplations to finally be resolved into a more mature outlook and acceptance of death.
Another oft-debated metaphor of Hamlet is the mystery of the ghost. In literature, a ghost or unquiet spirit is often a staple of most revenge tragedies, but Hamlet adds further complexities to the ghost by its innate meaning. At first glance, the ghost appears to have much in common with Hamlet in his younger days, and yet to Hamlet, it appears to bear a stark similarity to his father. In addition, whilst several characters see the ghost, only Hamlet has the opportunity to converse with it. Thus, the question arises as to whether the ghost ever truly existed or if it was merely a figment of Hamlet’s imagination, humored on by the other characters. Whilst the nature of the ghost remains a mystery, there is no denying what it represents.
The ghost represents how haunted Hamlet is by his father’s memory. Whilst the world around him wishes that he would