Hamlet by William Shakespeare illustrates foreshadowing through its characters to keep the reader interested throughout the play. An example of foreshadowing is Hamlets depressed state of mind which foreshadows his motivation to find out the truth about his fathers death. A second example of foreshadowing is when Hamlets father comes to him as a ghost and informs him about his murder, this causes rage within Hamlet that foreshadows his revenge. A third example of foreshadowing is when Hamlet asks the players to perform “The Mousetrap” which might prove Claudius involvement in King Hamlets murder and foreshadows Hamlets revenge.
Another example is Hamlets sudden unusual behavior towards Ophelia which foreshadows a fatal outcome for the lovers. Finally, the concluding example is Laertes anger and pain towards his fathers death which foreshadows his revenge towards Hamlet, his fathers murderer. So these five examples of foreshadowing keep the reader interested and eager to continue reading the play. In the beginning of Hamlet there is an immediate introduction to Hamlets grief and gloominess which foreshadows his need for revenge. Hamlets lovely personality and pleasantry were gone and he found himself dissatisfied of the world around him.
His world was falling apart in front of him. His fathers death was a bitter wound in his heart he couldnt be forgotten. King Hamlet was an excellent king who loved his wife, Queen Gertrude, deeply. But Hamlet couldnt understand how his mother who would “hang on [her husband]/as if increase of appetite had grown” could forget about him so quickly (1. 2. 147-148). It seemed to Hamlet as if they both loved each other immensely. However, before Gertrudes “unrighteous tears/had left the flushing in her galled eyes/she married” her husbands brother (1. 2. 159-161). It was only two months after the funeral and she was married.
This hurt Hamlet a lot because he felt his mother didnt seem to love her deceased husband as much as he loved her. She proved this by marrying his brother which was considered improper to Hamlet and others. Hamlets depression and madness were not only caused by the death of his father but by his mothers remarriage. His love for his dear father motivated him to seek the truth. Hamlet does find out the truth when his fathers ghost comes and tells him he was murdered. So Hamlet has a mission to find his fathers murderer and get revenge. Another example of foreshadowing Hamlets revenge occurs when he speaks to his fathers ghost.
Hamlet had heard from the soldiers who worked as night watchers that they had seen an image resembling the king. The soldiers said the Kings spirit would come exactly at twelve midnight. They explained he was dressed in a full suit of armor and very pale. Hamlet stood guard with Horatio and Marcellus on the platform awaiting his fathers spirit. Hamlet was in awe at the sight of the ghost and he couldnt help but be scared. He became relaxed as he noticed the ghost, his father, was eager to speak with him. He wondered why his father “revisits thus the glimpses of the moon” since his death (1. 4. 58).
King Hamlet came to inform his son he was “stung by a serpent” and the “serpent that did sting [his] life/now wears his crown” (1. 5. 43,46-47). He explained that his brother Claudius arranged to have him poisoned in his sleep with the poision being poured into his ear. Consequently, Claudius murdered his brother to gain his brothers crown. He told Hamlet if he loved him he would get revenge on his murderer. This incident foreshadows Hamlets revenge. Hamlet plots a way to have Claudius admit he killed King Hamlet. His plan was to have the players perform the play “The Mousetrap” which was an allusion to the truth.
Claudius gets angry during the play which proves he was the murderer. For that reason Hamlet eventually gets revenge and kills Claudius. Hamlet was obligated to his father to seek revenge on his murderer which foreshadowed the death of Claudius. He felt that the longer he waited to capture the truth and bring justice to his fathers death he was dishonoring his name. Therefore, Hamlet plotted a plan to make Claudius confess. He asked the players to performed “The Mousetrap” which was really a way of solving the mystery of his fathers death. The play was a story about the murder of a Duke in Vienna. The
Duke was murdered by a family member and soon after the Dukes death the family member gained his crown. Hamlet selected this play since it was an allusion to his fathers murder. His intention was to make Claudius feel guilty as he watched the play so he would breakdown and confess. Claudius becomes very angry and leaves and does not continue to watch the play. Claudius was setup and got caught in a trap which was laid for him. Hamlets premonition that Claudius murdered his father was proven with Claudius reaction while watching the play. This is another example that foreshadows Hamlet getting revenge on Claudius.
The death of Ophelia is foreshadowed by Hamlets unusual behavior towards her. Hamlet showed Ophelia his unconditional love through his acts of kindness. He showed her his affections by sending her letters and pledging his undevoted love to her. She believed his devotion of love and felt the same way because he “made many tenders/of his affection to [her]” (1. 3. 108-109). His madness increased after his uncle Claudius and his mother Gertrude married two months after his fathers death. Ophelia described Hamlets appearance “as if he had been loosed out of hell/to speak of horrors” since he was so pale and dreadful looking (2. . 93-94). After his fathers death and his mothers marriage Hamlets depressed state of mind caused him to neglect Ophelia. Therefore, she felt very lonely especially since her father, Polonius, was murdered by her lover. Her lovers neglect, her brothers absence and her fathers death caused her to go mad. She just needed to be comforted. The lack of love she received caused her madness which left her with no other choose but to take her own life by drowning.
Laertes rage towards his father, Polonius death foreshadows his revenge towards Hamlet who killed Polonius. Hamlet was sent to England by Claudius since he urdered Polonius. However, Hamlet managed to return to Denmark to finally get revenge on Claudius. Yet when he arrived there was a funeral in procession. Hamlet noticed that the funeral was for Ophelia his lovely maiden. He declares he loved Ophelia more than “forty thousand brothers” who “could not with all their quantity of love/make upon [his] sum” (5. 1. 285-287). Laertes was full of grief as well and blamed Hamlet for this so he seeked revenge. Laertes and Claudius plotted a plan to murder Hamlet. Laertes challenged Hamlet to a fencing match and Hamlet agrees. Laertes prepares a poisoned weapon to kill
Hamlet in guidance from Claudius. By the end of the match Hamlet dies, Laertis dies, as well as Claudius and Gertrude. Horatio is the only one living to tell the story. So Laertes gets revenge on Hamlet for killing Polonius and Hamlet finally gets revenge on Claudius for killing King Hamlet. In conclusion, these five examples of foreshadowing keep the reader interested in wanting to find out the ending of this tragedy. Hamlet is forced to seek revenge not only for himself but for his father as well. Laertes, Ophelia, and Polonius were innocent victims of Hamlets procrastination to get revenge throughout the play.