Allusions In Hamlet

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In the soliloquy, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, allusions are made and Greek mythology is frequently referenced. Shakespeare mentions Hyperion, satyrs, Niobe, and Hercules, and all of these references assist in further developing the characters. FINISH INTRO

Shakespeare includes references to Hyperion and satyrs. His choice to pair these two references together was no accident. Hyperion, the father of the sun, the moon, and the dawn, represents beauty, for some of the most beautiful things on earth are represented. The shades of the setting sun, the shimmer of a glistening moon, and the calming tone of early dawn before the sun has woken. Such magnificent beauty, all in the hands of Hyperion. When one thinks of a satyr, or a half-man,
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Niobe is the daughter of Tantalus. She bore seven sons and seven daughters of her own, and she thought very highly of them. When she bragged to the gods about how wonderful her children were, she offended Leto. As punishment for the offense, Leto sent the twin gods Artemis (goddess of the hunt) and Apollo (god of music among many other things) to kill each of Niobe’s children. Niobe watched as her children were shot down one by one, and this sent her into shock. She was turned to stone, and the stone is soaked with tears day in and day out. When it is said, “With which she follow’d my poor father’s body, Like Niobe, all tears:” (I, i) it shows that Hamlet’s mother is overrun with grief for her husband, and she is completely heartbroken. The reference to Niobe proves that the mother’s emotions are very strong, and she will never stop grieving. At least, that is what one would think. Just three lines after this reference is made, another completely contradicts it. When it is said, “Would have mourn’d longer-- married with my uncle, My father’s brother” (I, i) it is shown that Hamlet’s mother, who was said to have been as grief-stricken as Niobe just three lines prior, marries her late husband’s brother. The second part of the line says, “But [my uncle] no more like my father/ Than I to Hercules” For Hamlet, a common man, to compare himself to Hercules, the most well-known and renowned hero in all of Greek mythology, it shows that they are complete opposites. The reference that Hamlet’s father, who could be compared to a titan as wonderful as Hyperion, was as different from his brother as Hamlet from Hercules, proves that Hamlet’s uncle was not by any means a good soul.

To conclude, Shakespeare uses allusions to Greek mythology to help develop characters in his soliloquy Hamlet. His use of references to Hyperion, satyrs, Niobe, and Hercules are very effective in revealing information about
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