Hamlet – Themes, Images, and Characters

Madness vs. Sanity Hamlet’s true state of mindOphelia’s actual madness
Thought vs. Action Hamlet – a man of thoughtLaertes – a man of action (a foil to Hamlet)
Appearance vs. Reality Hamlet’s madnessClaudius’ sincerity vs. his manipulationsHamlet and Ophelia’s feelings for each other.
Passion vs. Rationality Hamlet’s rationality vs Laertes’ passionHamlet’s amazement at the passion of the actorFortinbras’ soldiers die for worthless land
Individual Revenge vs. Divine Retribution Hamlet contemplates proper time to kill Claudius
Ethical Life vs. Corruption Claudius’ inability to pray for forgivenessUnwilling to save GertrudeUnwilling to give up crown, queen, ambition
Rot vs. Disease ClaudiusCorruption of Denmark (“something rotten…”)Hamlet’s presence to Clausius (“owner of a foul disease…”)
Ear Imagery murderer of old HamletClaudiusCorruption in Denmark (“whole ear of Denmark is rankly abused”)
Flower Imagery Ophelia
Garden Imagery Denmark is an “unweeded garden”Ophelia’s flowers during crazy scene

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