In the book Hamlet, there are multiple motifs present. Motifs are a recurrent image, word, object, phrase, or action that helps the reader understand the main theme or ideas the author is portraying in books. One motif that appears the most is about weeds, growth, flowers, nature. This motif correlates and puts an emphasis on the bibles Garden of Edan and shows its connection of Claudius killing King Hamlet to Abel being murdered by his brother Abel. The theme of nature also helps show the beautiful and ugly sides of Denmark. This helps to show what has poisoned the culture of Denmark. This motif helps develop the idea that the book is ultimately full of characters that are dishonest and deceitful. The theme of nature also underlines the idea that in the text if one bad decision is made it will bring on the possibility of spreading even more unjust actions.
( Number 1) One Example of nature used as a motif is seen an used to show how Claudius is a weed or useless plant. The quote says ‘duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed / That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, / Wouldst not stir in this’ (1.5.36-39). This section of the text shows how Claudius is a nonmoral corrupt man. This quote also foreshadows that the unjust actions of Claudius killing his brother will bring on more wrongdoing throughout spread throughout the book just like weeds. This quote is said by the ghost of the King when he is talking to Hamlet about why he appeared. The reason being the circumstances around his murder. The weed referred to by King Hamlet represents Claudius and his actions of killing his brother. The weeds not only help represent Claudius but they also help represent his actions and show that in the text his actions will bring on more wrongful acts. This is like a weed because it grows and spreads. Weeds are also known to kill good things. This shows that Claudius’s actions are also ruining the good in Denmark.
(Number 2)Another quote in the book that uses nature is in Act four when the text reads “There were fantastic garlands did she come of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples” (4.7.86). In this part of the book, Ophelia had passed and the flowers laid around her. The flowers could help symbolize her innocence and or death. This part of the text also mentions weeds around Ophelia when she died. The weeds could symbolize how the bad aspects of Denmark which played a major role in her death. The weeds could also be seen as her madness forming and compelling her to commit suicide. This could be interpreted because all the negativity of Denmark slowly took over Ophelia and as a result of this lead to her death. This is like weeds because they slowly take over everything.
(Number 3) Nature is again seen to help support the main theme in the story when it says in the text “He takes her up and declines his head upon her neck: lays him down upon a bank of flowers… the Queen returns find the King dead”(3.2.139-144). It can be inferred that in this part of the text the flowers represent death or more specifically in this context the death of King Hamlet. This connects to the last quote because the flowers are surrounded by those who die, for example, Ophelia. Flowers were near her when she committed suicide. When looking at the text more in depth it could be concluded that the flowers do not represent the reason for there death but the flowers come after there death which means that the flowers could be also representing a calm or quiet time after they pass. Using flowers in this part of the story helps the reader understand the storyline as the book goes on. The use of symbolism in this text is a major factor in influencing the reader’s opinion also about death or what’s afterlife.
(Number 4) At Palonius’s funeral, Ophelia sings “Larded with sweet flowers Which bewept to the grave did go With true-love showers” (4.5.41-43) Again the flowers come up when another character in the book passes away. This proves that in the book Hamlet flowers represent the death of others possibly if it is beginning to foreshadow the death of others. In this quote, Ophelia is singing so it could be possible that her mentioning the flowers is foreshadowing her demise. When reading the text is clear that also towards the end of the book the quotes about nature and the depths increase. So overall this helps add to the storyline.
(Number 5) In a part of act three Hamlet is unsure about Claudiuseds guilt. This is due to him not knowing if the Ghost is his father or just a demon. To prove the ghost is the dead king hamlet and if Claudius committed murder hamlet creates a plan. He believes that having actors perform a play just like the murder will make Claudius feel guilt. Hamlet then hoped to notice the guilt that Claudius might or might not have. During this part of the story it the pay one of the actors says “Confederate season, else no creature seeing Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds, collected, With Hecate’s ban thrice, blasted, thrice infected” (3.2.272-273). At this point, the weeds are mentioned again. The weeds may symbolize the bad in Denmark and possibly the bad inside people. It is also clear that the weeds were used to emphasis Claudius’s bad decisions. Meaning his actions that lead to not only the death of king hamlet but also the death of all the royalty at the end of the play. Not only to mention the demise of Claudius himself.
(Number 6) The book uses another quote about nature the quote says “‘tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely.” (1.2.137-139). In this section of the text, the symbolism of weeds is brought up again. The weeds mean all the bad connotations that are in Denmark. Combining all the quotes with the weeds it is clear that the weeds play a significant role. The corruption and the wrongdoing in Denmark foreshadow that something menacing will happen at the end of the book. The Last act does fulfill this when Lararties faces Hamlet and hamlet faces Claudius. When Looking more into depth about the weeds it is clear that everything touched by the weeds is tarnished. The weeds symbol of all the bad does exactly this by causing the death of all the monarchy in Denmark. This includes the Queen, King Hamlet, Claudius, Hamlet, and even more.
(Number 7) The use of Flowers in the book hamlet is used again when the text says “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance… there are pansies, that’s for thoughts… fennel for you, and columbines:” (4.5.192-197). For this part of the section, Laraties and Ophelia are talking, during this time it is believed that Ophelia has gone insane. Ophelia seems to be obsessed with the garden and flowers she had multiple types of flowers to Laertes. In this section, I think that the flowers represent the good in Denmark, in a way the flowers give Ophelia a type of purpose after she hears that Hamlet killed her father. The flowers also may represent peace or a type of calm. So in a way, the flowers could sooth Ophelia. One could also assume that the pieces may not be affecter her now but after she dies. So in a way, the flowers could be foreshadowing her death.
The final quote evolving nature is ‘Takes off the rose From the fair forehead of an innocent love And sets a blister there’ (3.4.42-44). In this quote, nature is seen to symbolize all the good virtues in life. This is clear when hamlet is talking to Gertrude about what morals are important to keep. These morals include being virtuous modest and truthful. Hamlet is using the rose to portray these good attributes in the text. These are morals play a key role in the text and help give a baseline in how the characters should act. With this said The characters mostly don’t follow these morals.
All the quotes provided above relate to nature with this said they all also help support the storyline. Specifically, the use of weeds helps develop the idea that the book is ultimately full of characters that are dishonest and deceitful. When looking more into depth it can also be seen that flowers and buds are used to represent peace or a calm state. This can be related to after of before death. The Symbolic use of nature in this book helps the reader to gain a better understanding of what is happening in the book and helps give insight into the main idea of the story.
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