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Summary: the Idea of Fear Through a Hamlet Play

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Emotions and feelings are very instrumental to humanity as feelings can affect the way humans behave and think. Moreover, emotions are detrimental in the way individuals prepare for the future. When thinking about the future, the feelings of fear and worry are part of the equation. Individuals’ actions are often inspired by fear. Physiologically, fear is defined as “a powerful uncontrollable emotion that emerges from threat and danger”. The idea of fear can impact a person’s decision making and thought process in a negative way and thus their ability to prepare wisely for the future will be interrupted with negative thoughts. The idea of fear and foresight can be represented through a famous play called Hamlet which was produced by Shakespeare in 1599. The interplay of fear and foresight is a prominent theme within the dramatic play as the characters Hamlet, Laertes, Claudius live in world of apprehension and this turmoil shapes the core of the play. The author, William Shakespeare asserts that the feeling of fear impacts an individual’s decision making resulting in poor decisions that impact their future and ultimately leads to their downfall.

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Hamlet, the protagonist of the tragic play, is identified for his fear and foresight within the play. Hamlet lives in a world where he is motivated by revenge and envy, however Hamlet is doubtful about battling against his motivations and thus, the feeling of fear is established. Hamlet fears that he will be humiliated if he commits wrongful actions. For instance, Hamlet worries that the ghost is not real when he states “May be the devil, and the devil hath power. T' assume a pleasing shape. Yea, and perhaps. Out of my weakness and my melancholy, As he is very potent with such spirits, Abuses me to damn me”. Considering that the idea of the ghost is not real, which is instrumental to the play, Hamlet will think that killing Claudius is unjustified. Another example that shows how Hamlet is fearful is when he has the opportunity to kill Claudius. When Hamlet finds the opportunity to kill Claudius while he is “praying”, he fears that he is taking the wrong action as Claudius may go to heaven rather than hell. Hamlet says “A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven. O, this is hire and salary, not revenge!”, which shows how Hamlet loses the sight of his main goal of avenging his father’s death due to fearing that he is doing Claudius a favor by sending him to heaven rather than hell. Overall, due to fear, Hamlet loses sight of his main ambition and starts to have doubts about the actions he is committing himself to.

Although the character Laertes is not one of the main characters of the play, as he doesn’t appear in many of the scenes, he demonstrates how fear can affect an individual’s decision making negatively. At the beginning of the play, Laertes shows his obedience and his respectfulness when he asks the king’s permission to return back to France to continue his education. However, due to the events that happened to his family such as the deaths of his father and sister, Laertes desperately wants revenge on Hamlet. Fear plays a role in his plan in taking revenge on Hamlet. Moreover, since Laertes was the only person remaining in his family, he feared that Hamlet was planning to kill him. Laertes knows that Hamlet is insane and dangerous and thus he starts to act irrationally, and this leads to his tragic downfall. Furthermore, his fear causes him to act based on his feelings when he says “Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation. To this point I stand That both the worlds I give to negligence. Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged Most thoroughly for my father.”However, when Laertes was stabbed, he confesses to Hamlet that he acted irrationally due to his fear when he said “mine and my father’s death come not upon thee. Nor thine on me”. In conclusion, due to Laertes fear of Hamlet, he acts irrationally and that in turn, it resulted in his downfall.

The king of Denmark, Claudius, who is also Hamlet’s uncle, is a prime example of how feelings such as fear could affect someone’s foresight negatively. Claudius, who killed his own brother, just to marry his wife, is a firm believer that Hamlet is dangerous to the throne of Denmark as he was the son of the former king Hamlet. He views Hamlet as a threat when he says, “madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go,”. In addition, Claudius fears that Hamlet will try to restore the throne and therefore he decides to establish a plan to stop him. Later in the play, when Claudius realizes that Hamlet found out that he murdered his father and will avenge for his death, his fear is amplified. Moreover, much like Laertes, Claudius starts to act irrationally, and this is evident when he says, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go”. Furthermore, he sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet and tries to kill Hamlet by luring Laertes to his side. However, Claudius’ plans fail and since his decisions are less thoughtful, it leads to his death. Ultimately, since Claudius’ foresight and thoughts are affected by his fear, he is unprepared when his plans fail.

In Hamlet, the interplay of fear and foresight is a prominent theme within the play as the characters Hamlet, Laertes and Claudius show how fear can negatively impact an individual’s decision making and consequently leading to their downfall. For instance, Hamlet doubts the actions he’s committing to and therefore he hesitates to kill Claudius when he had the opportunity and loses sight of his main ambition. Laertes on the other hand, acts irrationally due to his fear from Hamlet and in turn it affected his foresight negatively as he died on the hands of Hamlet. With respect to Claudius, he fears that Hamlet will take the throne of Denmark from him, so he starts to act irrationally and out of thought and judgment and ultimately, it led to his downfall in the end of the story. To conclude, individuals underestimate the power of fear, and if they do not realize the consequences of ignoring that feeling, it could affect their foresight and lead to their ultimate downfall.        

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