The Consequences and Reactions to Death

For the overall analysis of act IV my group has narrowed down our sights to one central question: what are the actions and consequences in relation to life and death demonstrated by the characters? I am quite satisfied with this question, as it acts as a sort of progression from my last post and the inquiries I was making in regards to the actions undertaken by the characters. In the process of answering this question, it is my program of TAPoR which works as a starting point, giving me room to have an open mind with my results. I start by looking at the speaking frequency of each character, to then go and list out their common words.

I start with Claudius because he is very central in this act and holds the most lines. The results I pull from him are very enlightening towards what I am looking for. From his words, I see very a formal and careful way of speaking:

These words give off a sense of careful manipulating and a sort of plotting. Claudius is also familiar in what he says such as the reference of ‘friends’, the personal use of ‘thou’ and the use of ‘good’:

Finally, a common reference he makes is towards such themes as truth and knowledge, leading me back to the actions of manipulation and lying he undertakes:

The word usage of Claudius suggests to me that his reaction to the death of Polonius is that of becoming manipulative and plotting towards the other characters, all in order to regain control of the situation.

Laertes’ use of words is similar to that of Claudius; his speech is very action related, mainly in regards to revenge:

Laertes’ words show that he is spurred to take vengeance, and his references to ‘father’ and ‘sister’ highlights the reason for this action.

Hamlet, as opposed to Laertes, uses his speech to convey a focus on thoughts:

However, as is seen in his meeting with Fortinbras, he stumbles onto the idea of death, which in the end provokes him to become inspired (finally!) to take his revenge.

Gertrude is a bit odd in her usage of words, with her focus differing from the usual focus of revenge:

As seen, she ends up focusing on other characters and their situations, seen in her defense of Claudius, Hamlet’s murder of polonius, and Ophelia’s drowning. Mainly, her usage of words is very emotional, using words such as ‘cry’ and ‘weep’.

Finally, there is Ophelia, who I focused on in my last post. It is seen in her word list that she is focused on life and death as seen in her use of ‘come’ and ‘gone’. As opposed to the other characters in the act, Ophelia does not act as a demonstration of the actions in regards to life and death. Rather, her focus is on the consequences of these things, seen clearly in her development of madness, and subsequent death.

In looking at the frequency of words of the characters in the whole of the act, I pull out two general answers:

  • The main action (or reaction) to life and death is that of plotting, lying, or vowing to take revenge.
  • The main consequence of life and death is madness and death itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *