The Cost of Wanting Honor and Certainty
Honor and certainty are two ideas that are closely related to each other. Certainty can be found in honor and if one is taken away people will search for a way to restore this even if they have to struggle to make life go back to the way it was. Some individuals are willing to go to drastic lengths to restore their honor and certainty to feel safe within themselves. They are willing to do anything even if it means harming people around them. In the play Hamlet, Shakespeare develops the idea that when an individual loses honor and certainty, it leads them to make irrational decisions and act out because of their struggle to want to be able to change their life to the way it was before. This results in the individual wanting to fulfill their desire of wanting to gain back the honor and certainty at the cost of harming people around them.
Since Hamlet comes from a background of loyalty, his honor and certainty are a part of his identity. When his father dies his life changes completely. Hamlet’s uncle Claudius is now the king and marries Hamlet’s mother only two months after King Claudius’s death. These two events cause a loss of honor and certainty in Hamlet. With the loss of his father Denmark is now being ruled by a king Hamlet does not trust. This is causing the loss of certainty for Hamlet and the loss of honor because of the marriage between his mother and uncle. When Hamlet meets the ghost of his father he is confused about why the ghost appeared. In an emotional state Hamlet cries out “O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? /And shall I couple with hell/O, fie! Hold, hold my heart” (1.5.92-94) because he just learnt the truth about his father’s death and Claudius’s connection to it. Talking to the ghost puts an idea into Hamlet’s head which will give him an opportunity to restore his honor and certainty when he avenges his father by killing Claudius. Even though Hamlet wants to go through with his plan he struggles to act on it because he does not know if the ghost is trying to trick him or if its telling the truth. Although Hamlet believed the ghost before now he is questioning whether “the spirit that I have seen/ May be the devil and the devil hath power/To assume a pleasing shape” (2.2.561-563). Hamlet thinks the ghost could be the devil leading him in the wrong direction. Since Hamlet is doubtful he is not as willing to take action against his uncle but when he stops thinking too much about if it is true he starts to make irrational decisions.
Hamlet wanting to avenge his father starts to take up all his thoughts. He decides to “to put an antic disposition on” (1.5.192) because he wants to make sure Claudius murdered his father but he does not want to draw attention to himself. By making people think he is mad it can take away the suspicion and make people think he is going crazy because of his father’s death. Hamlet starts to act out and be rude to the people around him...