The Unbelievable Yet Predictable Tragedy Hamlet by William Shakespeare

illustrates foreshadowing through its characters to keep the reader interested

throughout the play. Several examples of this foreshadowing are Hamlet’s depressed

state of mind which foreshadows his motivation to find out the truth about his

father’s death, when Hamlet’s father comes to him as a ghost and informs him about his murder, this causes rage

within Hamlet that foreshadows his revenge and when Hamlet asks the players to perform “The Mousetrap”which might prove Claudius’ involvement in King Hamlet’s murder andforeshadows Hamlet’s revenge. Another example is Hamlet’s sudden unusual

behavior towards Ophelia which foreshadows a fatal outcome for the lovers.

Finally, the concluding example is Laertes’ anger and pain towards his

father’s death which foreshadows his revenge towards Hamlet, his father’s


In the beginning of Hamlet there is an immediate introduction to Hamlet’s grief and gloominess which foreshadows his need for revenge. Hamlet’s lovely personality and pleasantry were gone and he found himself dissatisfied with the world around him. His

world was falling apart in front of him. King Hamlet was an excellent king who

loved his wife, Queen Gertrude, deeply. But Hamlet couldn’t understand how

his mother who would “hang on [her husband] as if increase of appetite had

grown” could forget about him so quickly (1.2.147-148). It seemed to

Hamlet as if they both loved each other immensely. However, before

Gertrude’s “unrighteous tears/had left the flushing in her galled eyes/she

married” her husbands brother (1.2.159-161). It was only two months after

the funeral and she was married. This hurt Hamlet a lot because he felt his

mother didn’t seem to love her deceased husband as much as he loved her.

She proved this by marrying his brother which was considered improper to

Hamlet and others. Hamlet’s depression and madness were not only caused

by the death of his father but by his mother’s remarriage. His love for his dear

father motivated him to seek the truth. Hamlet does find out the truth when his

father’s ghost comes and tells him he was murdered. So Hamlet has a mission

to find his father’s murderer and get revenge. Another example of

foreshadowing Hamlet’s revenge occurs when he speaks to his father’s

ghost. Hamlet had heard from the soldiers who worked as night watchers that

they had seen an image resembling the king. The soldiers said the King’s

spirit would come exactly at twelve midnight. They explained he was dressed

in a full suit of armor and very pale. Hamlet stood guard with Horatio and

Marcellus on the platform awaiting his father’s spirit. Hamlet was in awe at

the sight of the ghost and he couldn’t help but be scared. He became relaxed

as he noticed the ghost, his father, was eager to speak with him. He

wondered why his father “revisits thus the glimpses of the moon” since his

death (1.4.58). King Hamlet came to inform his son he was “stung by a

serpent” and the “serpent that did sting [his] life/now wears his crown”

(1.5.43,46-47). He explained that his brother Claudius arranged to have him

poisoned in his sleep with the poision being poured into his ear.

Consequently, Claudius murdered his brother to gain his brother’s crown. He

told Hamlet if he loved him he would get revenge on his murderer. This

incident foreshadows Hamlet’s revenge. Hamlet plots a way to have Claudius

admit he killed King Hamlet. His plan was to have the players perform the

play “The Mousetrap” which was an allusion to the truth. Claudius gets angry

during the play which proves he was the murderer. For that reason Hamlet

eventually gets revenge and kills Claudius. Hamlet was obligated to his father

to seek revenge on his murderer which foreshadowed the death of Claudius.

He felt that the longer he waited to capture the truth and bring justice to his

father’s death he was dishonoring his name. Therefore, Hamlet plotted a plan

to make Claudius confess. He asked the players to performed “The

Mousetrap” which was really a way of solving the mystery of his father’s

death. The play was a story about the murder of a Duke in Vienna. The Duke

was murdered by a family member and soon after the Duke’s death the

family member gained his crown. Hamlet selected this play since it was an

allusion to his father’s murder. His intention was to make Claudius feel guilty

as he watched the play so he would breakdown and confess. Claudius

becomes very angry and leaves and does not continue to watch the play.

Claudius was setup and got caught in a trap which was laid for him. Hamlet’s

premonition that Claudius murdered his father was proven with Claudius

reaction while watching the play. This is another example that foreshadows

Hamlet getting revenge on Claudius. The death of Ophelia is foreshadowed

by Hamlet’s unusual behavior towards her. Hamlet showed Ophelia his

unconditional love through his acts of kindness. He showed her his affections

by sending her letters and pledging his undevoted love to her. She believed

his devotion of love and felt the same way because he “made many tenders/of

his affection to [her]” (1.3.108-109). His madness increased after his uncle

Claudius and his mother Gertrude married two months after his father’s

death. Ophelia described Hamlet’s appearance “as if he had been loosed out

of hell/to speak of horrors’” since he was so pale and dreadful looking

(2.1.93-94). After his father’s death and his mother’s marriage Hamlet’s

depressed state of mind caused him to neglect Ophelia. Therefore, she felt

very lonely especially since her father, Polonius, was murdered by her lover.

Her lover’s neglect, her brother’s absence and her father’s death caused her

to go mad. She just needed to be comforted. The lack of love she received

caused her madness which left her with no other choose but to take her own

life by drowning. Laertes’ rage towards his father, Polonius’ death

foreshadows his revenge towards Hamlet who killed Polonius. Hamlet was

sent to England by Claudius since he murdered Polonius. However, Hamlet

managed to return to Denmark to finally get revenge on Claudius. Yet when

he arrived there was a funeral in procession. Hamlet noticed that the funeral

was for Ophelia his lovely maiden. He declares he loved Ophelia more than

“forty thousand brothers” who “could not with all their quantity of love/make

upon [his] sum” (5.1.285-287). Laertes was full of grief as well and blamed

Hamlet for this so he seeked revenge. Laertes and Claudius plotted a plan to

murder Hamlet. Laertes challenged Hamlet to a fencing match and Hamlet

agrees. Laertes prepares a poisoned weapon to kill Hamlet in guidance from

Claudius. By the end of the match Hamlet dies, Laertis dies, as well as

Claudius and Gertrude. Horatio is the only one living to tell the story. So

Laertes gets revenge on Hamlet for killing Polonius and Hamlet finally gets

revenge on Claudius for killing King Hamlet. In conclusion, these five

examples of foreshadowing keep the reader interested in wanting to find out

the ending of this tragedy. Hamlet is forced to seek revenge not only for

himself but for his father as well. Laertes, Ophelia, and Polonius were

innocent victims of Hamlets’ procrastination to get revenge throughout the




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