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Loss Of Innocence In Hamlet Essays

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 Hamlet essay
Inevitable loss of innocence in Hamlet



Innocence is defined as the state of being unsullied by sin or moral wrong; lacking a knowledge of evil. In Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet none of the major character have their innocence by the end of the play. First Hamlet loses his when he kills Poloniuos. The queen then loses hers when Hamlet tells her about the murder of the king. Lastly Ophelia and Leartes lose theirs when they hear of their fathers death.
This loss in unavoidable and happens to every person. It is a part of growing up in the world we live in.


At the start of the play Hamlet is innocent and had a strong sense of morality. This is shown in his initial disbelief of his fathers ghost. Even though he thought Claudious vile, he did not want to kill him if he was innocent. If Hamlet had been immoral he would have seized upon the chance to kill Claudious. Over the course of the play his innocence degrades as he is exposed to more vileness. The turning point is when he kills Polonious. At this point he is innocent no more. It's his first act of violence and it prepares him for his two final acts of aggression. First sending Rosencrantz and Gildenstern to their death, and secondly his killing of Claudious. These acts do not mean that he has lost his honor though. You can retain your honor even after you have shed your innocence.
They were fair turnabouts for what was done to him. Hamlet dies a man of honor and will be remembered for that.


There is some evidence to think that Gertrude knew that Claudious was planning his brothers death. This however can be discounted because it doesn't agree with her actions latter on. When Hamlet asks her about the killing of her husband she is surprised. “As kill a king?”(3,iv). She then pleads with Hamlet to stop talking about her marrying the monster that killed her husband. “O Hamlet, speak no more.\ Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul.”(3,iv). If she had been guilty of a conspiracy with Claudious, she would have been faced with these thoughts on a daily basis and would have by then been jaded towards them. Her lose of innocence happened when she realized that the man she had loved passionately, at least in bed, was a snake. In the end she dies by poison. Their is argument as to whether she knew that it was poison, but she most certainly did. When her husband tells her not to drink the cup she responds, “I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me.” (5,ii). Most people would have wanted to know why they shouldn't have drank. Even if it hadn't been poison in it, that phrase is insulting and would have been the start of the end of their relationship.

Yet the most tragic loss of innocence is Ophelia's. She is the classic image of innocence having only a love for Hamlet at the start. This is taken from her ironically when the man she loves kills her father. Polonious had always, in his own way, protected his daughters innocence and she loved him for that. The loss of him drove her insane which lead to her subsequent death. Even if Polonious hadn't been killed she could not have kept a hold of her innocence forever. She would have eventualy been drawn into a plot , of which the court of Denmark was abundant. Ophelia's foil in this situation is Laertes. Her withdrawal into a world of fantasy is juxtaposed against his need for action in the real world. Before Polonioius was killed, Laertes was an easy going guy. He was having fun in Paris, not caring what was going on back at home. After his fathers death though he realized how cruel the world can be. Again, if Polonious hadn't been killed, how long would it have been before Leartes was drawn into intrigue as well. Someone would have used him to get to his father and then to the king.

Hamlet is in the end about the unfortunate loss of innocence. This loss is unavoidable and happens when people are confronted with the evil of this world. It is final and irreversible and it is always a sad day for the person who suffers it. It is a requirement though for growing up. With out it you can not fully prepare for ever
Posted by gulyman12 October 2007, 19:34 GMT

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Loss of Innocence in Hamlet Essay

1265 Words6 Pages

Loss of Innocence in Hamlet

Hamlet is a character that we love to read about and analyze. His character is so realistic, and he is so romantic and idealistic that it is hard not to like him. He is the typical young scholar facing the harsh reality of the real world. In this play, Hamlet has come to a time in his life where he has to see things as they really are. Hamlet is an initiation story. Mordecai Marcus states "some initiations take their protagonists across a threshold of maturity and understanding but leave them enmeshed in a struggle for certainty"(234). And this is what happens to Hamlet.

Although Hamlet is a little old to have this experience of coming to be a man, we have to realize that his…show more content…

This event along with everything else that he is dealing with is the threshold for Hamlet that he must cross. To cross this threshold Hamlet has to make a decision. Dealing with the process of making and actually making this decision lead Hamlet into his manhood. Hamlet has idealized his father and what Hamlet has learned about his father in the ghost scene shakes his fragile equilibrium. He learns all at one time that his uncle has killed his father, and that his father is not the person that he thought he was. This is a blow for any young adult. Hamlet is now having to deal with the fact that everything that he has believed to be true, just is not so.

Hamlet has also idealized his mother, and it seems like that they have had a close relationship before this incident. Hamlet really loved his mother, and I think he put her on a pedestal. In the play, this delusion that he has about his mother's character is quickly shattered. She, "within a month" (1,2,145) marries Hamlet's uncle who has for some odd reason become king after Hamlet's father's death. Hamlet is sickened and disillusioned by his mother's behavior saying things like "O that this too too sullied flesh would melt" (1,2,129) and "frailty, thy name is woman"(1,2,146). But the realization that he has about his mother also ties into the realization that he has about his father and ultimately

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