Guilt In Hamlet

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Guilt is one of the emotions capable of that often leads individuals to lie to others as well as themselves, and further lead them committing actions that they otherwise would not commit with rational thought processes. However, although feelings of guilt can prompt individuals toward better behaviour, overwhelming feelings of guilt can disable individuals and hinder them from being able to think or act normally, especially through panic or fear. Oftentimes, guilt can be misleading and damaging when excessive guilt is left alone or unresolved. The theme of guilt is evident in both William Shakespeare's play, ‘Hamlet’, and in Robertson Davies novel, ‘Fifth Business’. In both the play and the novel, there are several characters that portray feelings…show more content…
King Claudius is a character who has always been envious of his brother’s success, King Hamlet, and therefore, is willing to do anything in order to acquire that power. He does so by pouring poison into the King’s ear in his sleep, thus resulting in King Hamlet’s death. However, Claudius declares that the King died of a snakebite in the garden, and thus no one knew of the murder that had just taken place. The outcome of his actions is long suppressed guilt which he only shows later in the play when he is trying to pray but is unable to after knowing Hamlet knows about his father’s death, “O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven. / It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t / A brother’s murder. Pray can I not;” ( 3.3 36-38) In this soliloquy, it is visible that Claudius is aware of the crime he has committed as he acknowledges it by referring to his offence smelling to heaven. However, he shows no remorse for the actions he has committed due to not wanting to forfeit his position as king, which affects his decision making and leads to his eventual…show more content…
During the snowball incident, he was the main reason why Mrs. Dempster went into premature labour. However, almost his whole life he denies and avoids the fact that Mrs Dempster went into premature labour because of him. Instead of apologizing for his actions, he denies and avoids the situation by running away with no kind of compensation for what he had caused. Denying the incident in this case had actually helped Percy stay motivated unlike Dunstan, who was motivated in life by his guilty conscience. “I threw a snowball at you, and I guess it gave you a good smack. (page 14) This quote shows Boy seriously thought he did not hit Mrs. Dempster which resulted in no guilt until 50 years later. Boy is very similar to King Claudius as they are both very ambitious and do not admit their guilt even though they are well aware of it. However, both characters having not admitted to their guilt, leads to bad decision making and later on to their downfall, in this case their
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