ips on Children as Evidenced by Hamlet Hamlet essaysEffects of Parental Relationships on Children as Evidenced by Hamlet
Families are the essential building blocks of the relationships we form in the later years of our lives. If we are given unconditional love by those we hold most dear, we learn to trust in others and their love for us. However, if we do not receive the appropriate attention, we may grow to believe that we are incapable of either being loved or loving others. These kinds of proceedings in a household may lead a child to a lifetime of troubling consequences. Just as important as the relationship they hold with us is the relationship between the mother and father that we grow up observing. Parents should maintain a healthy relationship in order to prevent their children from forming a skewed image of love and trust.
After Hamlets experience with his mothers incestuous remarriage to Claudius, he no longer sees love as a pleasant sentiment. Gertrude exclaims the exact basis of her sons apparent madness when, in response to Claudiuss proclamation that Polonius knows the origin, she exclaims I doubt it is no other but the main, / His fathers death and oerhasty marriage. (II. ii. 59-60). This swift and incestuous marriage suggests to Hamlet the impermanence of human affection as well as of life, and it also, less obviously, compels him to think of the violation of the union which gave him his own life and being. (Scott 110). He learns from this occurance that love is nothing but a fleeting emotion, with no meaning to it. This attitude towards love spills over into his treatment of Ophelia. Hamlets exclamation of Frailty, thy name is woman! (I. ii. 152) applies in his mind, not only to Gertrude, but now also to Ophelia. He is deeply hurt when he comes to her after his exchange with the ghost of his father. She does not respond to him with loving concern, but instead rushes from the room to tell her father of the insanity that she has witnessed. He discovers that he cannot trust the one woman he loves. Hamlet feels quite out of love with Love, and unable to trust anyone because he has been betrayed by the two women in his life: his mother and his lover (Harris 157).
Hamlet has completely lost his trust in Gertrude after her show of unfaithfulness by marriage to her fathers brother. He is left with no option but to wonder if she was involved in the murder of his father (Shipley 629). He feels deeply betrayed by Gertrude not only in this respect, but also because she completely lacks sympathy for young Hamlet during his mourning for his fathers death. She is essentially inert, oblivious to the whole realm of human experience through which her son travels. She seems not to care, and seems particularly not to care about his grief. (Scott 110). This lack of understanding is evident when Claudius and Gertrude are attempting to inform Hamlet that his unmanly grief is unnecessary. Gertrude explains to Hamlet, Thou knowst death tis common, all that lives must die, / Passing through nature to eternity. Hamlet responds, Ay, madam, it is common. The Queen asks, If it be, / Why seems it so particular with thee Hamlet rudely retorts, Seems, madam Nay, it is. I know not seems.? (I. ii. 76-81). Gertrude does not comprehend the enormity of her sons emotions at the loss of his father, further tossing her in the boiling betrayal that Hamlet feels.
These distortions of love and trust occur not only in Hamlet, but also in modern day life, after cases of divorce. Statistics show that the divorce rate in the United States is rising rapidly. Although not all of these come in homes with children, those that do usually occur when the children are young and still living at home. If the divorce does not occur on healthy terms, the experience may leave a child with strong mixed emotions concerning future relationships.
Divorce sends the message to children that intimate relationships are not stable institutions. Many grow up believing that every lover will desert them and therefore cannot trust them. The author of The Love They Lost, Stephanie Staal, was the child of a divorced couple. She writes, Beyond our parents experience, we see divorce everywhere among friends, colleagues, other relatives As a result, overall attitudes toward love and marriage become increasingly laced with caution. (178) Experts explain this feeling of insecurity in intimate relationships by rationalizing that children who grow up with divorced parents are more likely to go through a divorce, and may even expect that their relationships will fail. Because they do not have a fit model of marriage or relationships in their mind, they may gain a skewed picture that they recreate in their behavior. Furthermore, many times they are deprived of the emotional security that a loving family may provide, thus preventing them from obtaining the ability to form healthy relationships as adults. When divorce denies children what British psychiatrist John Bowlby refers to as a secure base, they are often left behind to start below ground zero in adult relationships (Staal 178). According to psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, this secure base for intimacy cannot be found until the child finds an identity for himself. When the child goes through an identity crisis (usually during adulthood), it becomes important to determine why his parents married and then broke apart in an effort to further understand himself and establish his role in society. Erikson points out that one can only find intimacy and trust in others after forming a firm sense of ones own identity, saying, It is only when identity formation is well on its way that true intimacy which is really a counterpointing as well as a fusing of identities is possible. (Staal 27).
Although not all cases of divorce may end in this fashion, more than likely, most will. It is a difficult experience for children to adjust to and compensate for in their behavior. The same is true of Hamlet in respect to Gertrudes rapid remarriage to the murderer of her recently departed husband. Her actions have an effect on her sons way of thinking and ultimately, acting throughout the play. Love and trust are the two most difficult emotions for children in these situations to rebuild after a complicated experience. Therefore, to protect their children, parents should always maintain a healthy, cordial relationship.