For all its preoccupation with crime, treachery and death, Hamlet is a fundamentally optimistic play. Discuss.

Hamlet is a play which is mainly based around these three themes of crime, treachery and death. Although these themes would be considered by many as negative issues, there is more to this play then meets the eye, and a person must really scrutinize it to discover the true idea behind this story.


These topics arise most frequently in this tale.

In the first scene of Hamlet we are confronted with the spirit of the late king of Denmark. We are told of, his death, that the appearance of his ghost is most unusual, and that Horatio knows this “… bodes some strange eruption..” to their state. As early as possible the readers know that the death of this king will remain a strong focus throughout this story.

As the play advances, there are many deaths and acts of crime that seem imbalanced, wrong, and avoidable. The first of these deaths is that of Polonius’. Polonius’ death arrives while inside the Queen’s Apartment during Act III Scene IV. He is hiding behind the tapestry in the Queen’s room, spying on Hamlet, and listening to the conversation between himself and his mother. Hamlet hears someone behind the arras and mechanically stabs the curtains. Although this incident could have been prevented, Polonius as they would say, ‘had it coming’. Polonius was far from a moral man. Not only was he dishonest towards Hamlet but to his son, Laertes, also. Polonius lowers himself in stature by spying, not only on this occasion but also in the past on Ophelia and Hamlet, and he even sent Reynaldo out of the country to spy on Laertes. Polonius is sly and untrustworthy, and described by Hamlet as, ‘a foolish prating knave’, and also a, ‘ wretched, rash, intruding fool’. Polonius shows no care towards his daughter Ophelia as a father should. He even uses her as a decoy dismissing how she would likely be feeling, very distressed. Even though Polonius did not quite deserve to die, he put himself in the situation where he was exposed to harm, and I was not bothered by, or surprised by the manner in which he passed away.

Another death that came shortly after Polonius’ was that of Ophelia’s. Even though her bereavement was by choice, the events that took place beforehand were the motivation for her committing suicide. Her father’s demise and the deceitfulness of Hamlet’s behavior towards her, all left her in a poor shape. Ophelia had no one to confide in as her brother was away, and considering she was such an inexperienced young woman who at this time needed to be taken care of, I was not shocked by the news of her suicide. I was however saddened by her death and felt compassion towards her. Ophelia’s death was also not unavoidable, if only Hamlet hadn’t acted the way he had towards and had given her a little attention and nurture that was required at this time.

As you can see so far in my essay, death is one of the main themes in Hamlet. Both of these losses were stoppable. They were not the only deaths. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern paid a visit to their grave and there were also the deaths of Laertes, Gertrude, Hamlet, and Claudius in the final scene of the play.

The typical view of death, is that it is a very miserable, dismal period in time. I believe that people fail to understand death is inevitable.