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Hamlet And King Lear Shakespeare has many overlapping themes that seem to correlate throughout his different works of literature. However, there are many themes that conflict as well. King Lear and Hamlet are two works of literature that can be both compared and contrasted. Hamlet and Lear seem to be complete opposites on the surface. Hamlet is a young prince who is lost in a world of confusion and deception. His father is brutally murdered by his uncle and he then must face him as his new father-in-law when he marries his mother. Lear is an elderly man who is past his prime and is trying to raise his daughters in a world of vanity and live with the Renaissances preoccupation with appearances.

As conflicting as these two characters seem they also have to deal with many of the same pressures and they surprisingly handle certain situations similarly. One such circumstance is that they are both forced the verge of madness. But this isnt the only thing that is coincidental between the two characters situation. They both have methods to their madness. Hamlet goes through many trials and tribulations throughout this play.

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He must live though his fathers untimely death, his uncles hasty marry to his mother, Ophelias refusal to see him or except his love letters, and the conspiracies that he sees planned against him. This alone is enough for any reader to understand why he has gone mad and to sympathize with. But Hamlet is stronger than he lets on to anybody. He is only pretending to be as mad as he is so that people will not become suspicious when he snoops around the house and acts irrationally toward his mother and step-father. His madness becomes the obsession of the house and King Claudius actually brings his old friends, Rosencranz and Guildenstern, to the house to find out what is causing him to loose his sanity. He asks them, “Something have you heard/of Hamlets transformation?” Everybody ends up with his or her own personal explanation to why Hamlet has gone mad.

Queen Gertrude feels that it is simply his fathers death and her marriage that has caused him to cross the line between sanity and insanity. Polonius believes that it was his refusal to let Hamlet see his daughter, Ophelia, that has made him mad. Ophelia can not find a reason for his madness, and feels it is the pressure of society and his new family that has changed him so dramatically. Whatever the reason, most of Hamlets friends and family were set on the fact that Hamlet was no longer in his right mind. However, Hamlet used this tactic of pretending to be out of his wits to fool his enemies into underestimating his plans of revenge until the moment of attack, and then, of course, it would be too late. King Lear also was accused of going mad.

He divided his kingdom into three parts so that each one of his daughters could share in his wealth. He had each daughter battle against each other to see who could flatter him the most. Goneril and Reagan both fought ruthlessly to attain the better division of land. When his youngest daughter (who was also his favorite) told him that she loved him like a daughter should love a father and that one day she would have a husband that she would also love, he became frenetic. He disowned her from the family, leaving the property to his other two daughters.

Lear is shunned by his two daughters later on in the play, and is kicked out onto the streets where he becomes delirious. Although this display of daft behavior is more genuine than Hamlets, I believe that Lear ranted and raved because he was used to getting attention. Social status was very crucial in the renaissance era. Many people would judge a person by how many followers and possessions they held. Now that Lear was on his own and not surrounded by his followers he felt that he was worth nothing if he had nothing. For the first time in his life, he had to face his true self worth.

I think this frightened him more so than anything else did. So instead of facing this awakening thought he began to act mad, so that he would not have to face the inevitable truth. I do not believe that this alone was the cause of his deliriousness, or that he was faking his madness. But I believe that this pushed him to the edge, and that he easily accepted this behavior instead of dealing with his fate. Hamlet and Lear handle this situation similarly because they both use a method of madness to escape the disaster unfolding around them.

Another similarity between the two plays is the loyalty that is felt toward a parent from a child. Hamlet decides he will do whatever it takes to revenge his fathers death, even if means putting his own life on the line. Hamlet states his dedication to his father and his revenge by stating “Suit the action to the word/and the word to the action.” It became his obsession. To find a punishment that would fit the crime. In King Lear, Cordelia tries to be a truthful daughter and answers her fathers question with brevity and frankness.

Instead of enjoying the refreshing truth for once, the king banishes her from his property. Later on, Cordelia reenters the play and attempts to save her father and win him back his throne. When the French army is defeated her and her father are captured and brought to prison. In the chamber she tells her father that she does not hold a grudge against him and is happy that he has come back into her life. Although they are both killed shortly after, it is presented to the audience that Cordelia was the only daughter to remain loyal to her father. It is important to realize that both plots revolve around the idea that these two characters remain loyal under all circumstances throughout the plays.

The last similar theme that I will discuss is the part of the fool. In Hamlet, it seems that whenever he speaks it is out of madness and that there is no validation to what he has to say. But he is usually trying to get across the evil plots of King Claudius without coming out and saying it. He says, ” though this is madness/yet there be method int.” He uses these outbursts of delusions to spread the truth. In King Lear the fool plays an important but small role. He is the one that takes Lear under his wing when he is forced to live on the streets.

It is the fool that continues to give him the advice and remind him of his folly and to plead with him to alter his course. This is no court jester but a voice of inner sanity and outward conscience. Perhaps Shakespeare wished to remind us of the Psalmist: ” Out of the mouth babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.” Therefore, whenever the fool speaks in either Hamlet or King Lear, it is to state some truth or fact so that perhaps the readers can detect it but the characters are still clueless. The contrast that I can determine from these two plays is the fact that Hamlet seems to be based on the thought that when an evil has been done; it is almost impossible to fix. No matter how hard you try to turn things around, you must realize that revenge is not the answer.

Hamlet succeeded in his plan of attack against the king. But in the process he managed to kill every main character in the play, including himself. I think that Hamlet was a perfect example of how Shakespeare loves to send contradicting messages. He presents the idea that not everything is black and white. In life, there are always gray areas.

He says that revenge does not solve the problem yet he revolves his plot around it and shows how Hamlet could not rest until he sought out revenge, no matter what the cost. In King Lear, I do not believe that the message was mixed at all. I believe that it was very clear that the theme of the play was to love the ones that are true to you, even if they dont love uxoriously, their love is real and it will withstand any obstacles in its path. The ending also distinctively shows that if you live your life holding grudges, you will end up alone or surrounded by fools. Regardless of the similarities and differences of these two plays, the reader will learn a lesson in love either way. And the lesson that Shakespeare teaches time and time again is simple.

Love is a paradox; it will never be understood.


Hamlet People like to put things into categories. Movie critics do so with films: slasher,buddy,western, war, and more. You can do the same with books: science fiction, gothic romance and so on. Shakespeare’s plays also have categories: tragedies, comedies, and histories. But these terms don’t mean exactly what you may think they mean. Shakespeare’s most famous plays are his tragedies, such as Hamlet. These plays follow the standard rules for tragedies: The hero has a basic human failure that brings about his downfall and death, but before he dies, he learns an important lesson about his failure and how it destroyed his life (and usually the lives of those he loved).

Shakespeare didn’t write these plays to deliver a moral message, butthat doesn’t stop us from learning from his plays. He fills his plays with ordinary people, and we can see ourselves in their situations. When the heroes face their tragic ends, we can learn from their mistakes and ordinary problems, and we can see ourselves with the same problems. At the same time, we can watch a play that is fun and entertaining, full of action, intrigue, and excitement. Hamlet, for example, is clearly an honest, decent person who is wrongly cheated out of the throne of Denmark by his conniving uncle, Claudius.

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We root for Hamlet, cheer his triumphs, and pity his failures. The protagonist is not always a hero, though. Sometimes he is his own worst enemy. Coriolanus, for example, is too proud. He is a great Roman general the best, and he knows it. His arrogance and conceit affect all around him and drive away those who would be his friends.

In the end, you almost cheer when they conspire against him and he gets his due. In other words, Shakespeare felt free to break the rules whenever he felt like it. After all, his audience didn’t care whether the plays followed the rules, and Shakespeare wrote to make his audience happy, not writers and authors.


The Member Of The Wedding and The Catcher The Rye are both similar novels in the way adolescents want to belong to a group of people but there is one major difference. Frankie is looking to grow up so that she can fit in with the people around her while Holden wants to avoid adulthood completely as he sees the adult world as being false and corruptible.
In Member Of The Wedding Frankie feels like she doesnt fit in to a childs world. This is due to a number of reasons. She wishes now to belong to a more adult society.

Frankie feels alienated from the rest of her friends. When they play underneath the arbour Frankie doesnt fit because she is too tall. She resents this and sees her friends as ugly screaming kids. Frankie attempts to befriend the older girls but they say she smells and when they talk about sex Frankie doesnt understand referring to this as nasty lies. Here we see Frankie excluded from the adult world that she desires to belong to.

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Frankie also feels excluded from her family. Her father wont allow her to sleep in the same bed as him anymore. He says that she is too big now. He is rarely at home and when he is he hardly speaks to Frankie. She attempts to converse with him but he just grunts at her. Eventually when he does talk to her he doesnt say much. After the wedding he shows a lack of understanding towards his daughter. She needs him but he tells her to wait until they are at home because then he will punish her for her behaviour. Berenice is the mother figure in her life but she returns to her own home and family in the evening. She feels excluded from Jarvis and Janice too because when they arrive home for a few days they invite Frankies father but not her. She feels this isnt very fair as she is also part of the family. This heightens Frankies isolation and also heightens her desire to belong to a group.

Frankie wants to belong to the navy and then decides to give blood to the Red Cross. She is refused on both accounts because she is too young. She thinks the freaks and criminals are trying to make eye contact with her so she can join their group but Frankie does not want that. These are images of isolation. She also tries to form a group with the soldier. We know she is not ready for adulthood as she is not mature enough when she says that he was talking double talk.
Frankie decides to join the wedding group with Jarvis and Janice. She even changes her name to F.Jasmine to make it similar to their names. She now starts to feel a connection with humanity. The feelings of alienation melt away but return after the wedding. She quickly realises that she is not a member of anything and feels crushed.

We see that the adult world excludes Frankie time and time again. The final straw is after the wedding. She realises that she was being foolish and develops a degree of insensitivity. She now has a new friend Mary. They have many interests in common such as poetry and art. She now forms her own club and learns to exclude people like Bernice and feels like she is beginning to belong. If this degree of insensitivity is developed further Frankie will have no problems joining adulthood
In the novel The Catcher In The Rye Holden Caulfield has the desire to belong to childhood. He sees the adults in this world as phony and therefore does not want to turn in to one. Holden has many options to deal with this problem.

One option would be for him to give in and step in to adulthood and live the life of a phony. He doesnt really see himself doing this however as it would be going against what he believed in. Another option for him would be to become an adult and devise some career to be a catcher in the rye. He could also reject the world completely and become a monk. He dismisses this idea, as he does not look on religion too favourably. Death and suicide is his main option. It hovers over him all the time. If he were to die he would never become an adult and therefore stay as an eternal child. This is what happened to his brother Allie, who died from leukemia. He has been freeze framed forever. He will always be a child because death prevented him from falling over the cliff to adulthood. At Elkton Hills, Holdens old school James Castle took the option of suicide when he threw himself out of a window after a boy had fought with him. Holden was close to committing suicide himself to get away from it all after his confrontation with Maurice but decided against it because of all the people that would be watching him and all the commotion it would cause. I didnt want a bunch of rubbernecks looking at me when I was all glory.

The main reason Holden does not want to have sex is because losing his virginity will have meant that he has left his childhood and moved in to adulthood. This is the reason why he is so upset after Stradlater told him that he made time with Jane Gallagher. If this is true then he has not just lost Jane to Stradlater but to adulthood.
It is no surprise that the people Holden likes are the children mentioned in the novel. He has a great admiration for Allie and also mentions his fondness of James Castle whom he hardly knew. This is because they will always be children, as they never made it to adulthood. Holden is also extremely fond of his sister Phoebe. When Holden sees her sleeping he remarks that she like all children look all right sleeping while adults look lousy when theyre asleep. Apart from Phoebe Jane is the only living person he had a good relationship with but he is afraid to get in contact with her now, as their relationship cannot be from one child to another anymore. Despite not making the leap in to adulthood himself, he is afraid that she has after her relationship with Stradlater. Of the adults, Holden looked on Mr. Antillini as one of the better ones. Mr. Antillini is friendly and understanding in relation to his views and gives him good advice. He becomes a role model and gives belief to Holden that there is goodness in the adult world. However this hope is all spoiled when Holden is woken with Mr. Antillini rubbing him on his head. Holden believes that he was trying to exploit him. In his eyes the man he believed to be the catcher in the rye turns out to be a phony like every other adult.

There are many symbols and metaphors in the novel, which Holden relates to childhood. He sees that he is changing and compares that to the museum that has stayed the same over the years. He wants things to be eternally fixed, like the statues of Indians and Eskimos in the museum. The pond is a metaphor of where Holden is in his life. It is partly frozen and partly not frozen, like Holden who is in a transitional stage. He is not a child anymore but is not quite an adult either.

Holden is convinced that somewhere in society there is some good. He has hope that good kids can grow up and become good adults too. It is this search for goodness and incorruption, which makes the novel. He looks for a role model to become a catcher in the rye before children fall over the cliff in to crazy adulthood but needs somebody to catch him first. The novel ends sadly with Holden having a nervous breakdown as he fails to find any goodness in the world and is unable to take that step in to adulthood.

Both Holden and Frankie achieve their desire to belong with varying success. Frankie seems like she is beginning to belong to a more adult world as she is maturing and will eventually make the step to adulthood. Holdens task differs in that he is trying to avoid the inevitability of adulthood which we must all face up to.

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