The Play Hamlet by Shakespeare and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte are artifacts which some notably similar attributes. Both story lines are run on complex plots and critical thematic concerns which can be compared. The play ‘Hamlet’ is composed of various thematic connections which pit various critical roles by different characters and the whole plot and character roles coalesce in a compelling story line dominated by the theme of betrayal right through its complex plot. The betrayals of individuals that dominate the plots in both plays form a resonating thematic thrust of the fall of the individuals as they pursue their selfish agendas. The running hypothesis of this paper is that the theme of the fall pervades through the story lines in both ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’. In ‘Hamlet’ full sense of betrayal actualizes towards the middle of the play in the realization by Hamlet that his father was murdered treacherously by a cunning and power hungry Claudius. At that point the play reaches a betrayal thematic climax in the lucid presentation of Claudius plot of usurping the throne of Denmark by Killing Hamlet and appropriating his wife. Banham Martin (2007) contends that it must be maddening to have to Hamlet to stomach the depth of treachery that Claudius and his mother have subjected him to. Although Gertrude did not work in cahoots with Claudius in his devious scheme it is of thematic significance that she finds it easy to give her hand into marriage with the despot that Claudius is. What also illuminates the aspect of betrayal on the part of Gertrude as Hamlet’s mother is the level of her abysmal l naivet?. Whilst hamlet is suspicious of the way things have turned out, Gertrude is over trusting in a manner that smacks of betrayal than mere innocence. It is arguable that the role played by Claudius in the play Hamlet lies in the core of thematic thrust of betrayal. The development of the Character of Claudius in the play as well as its exposition is leveraged on the motif of appearance versus realty. In the council Claudius’ puffed up conduct presents his stature as a man of virtue and noble deportment.
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Claudius conduct makes those around him see an honest and honorable man. From Act one scene two the reader is lavished with Claudius developed skill and verbal acumen as he addresses the council. This contributes to his aura of gentility and nobility under which his real devious self is concealed. One of the most striking manifestations of hypocrisy comes through the way Claudius speaks so well of the late King (whom he murdered) by showing a general affection for him by all his subjects. “Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death The memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe”. (Act I) He also goes on about the late King's good deeds. What unfold is that in reality Claudius cares little if anything of Hamlet as we learn from the Ghost that he has actually poisoned the king into death. In appearance Claudius renders an aura of a loving brother. The assassination of Hamlet the king by his brother is one of the salient manifestations of well sustained theme of betrayal right through the play hamlet. Claudius has not only betrayed the trust of his brother Hamlet, he has shattered the trust of the Hamlet the protagonist, even Gertrude , all his subjects and everyone who held him at higher moral standards. His kingship is a wholesome betrayal of the entire county of Denmark ruled by an establishment and kinship of malice, treachery and cunningness. The manifestation of theme of betrayal is elucidated by Claudius gesture towards his subjects. As Claudius commissions Voltimand and Cornelius off to deliver the message of Fortinbras to the King of Norway, he expresses his gratitude and gives them his implicit trust. Claudius does this in a way that depicts his trust and admirable as well as warm ties with his subjects which all earns him affability in the council and among his subjects. In the play we see more of Claudius warm gestures in the way he handles his subjects. He shows respect for Polonius and enhances his aura of a genuine and honorable man.
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Claudius gives Polonius the discretion to decide on whether to let his son Laertes stay or leave for Norway. The manner in which Claudius thanks Polonius rendering some air of openness and genuineness accumulates the proportion of hypocrisy and hence the betrayal of his subjects and everyone he has misled into perceive that he is noble and honorable and genuine. The head is not more native to the heart, The hand more instrumental to the mouth, Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father. What woudlst thou have, Laertes (Act I ii, 47-50) The veil of betrayal that Claudius creates by misleading his servant to perceive him as an honorable man who cares for them is one of the salient plot dynamics which serves to complicate the path of the role played by Hamlet the protagonist. Owing to Claudius posturing, the council sees him as an honorable and trustworthy man. This compounds Hamlet's challenges of uncovering the underlying trust behind his father's tragic death. When Hamlet enters into the Kings chamber to talk with Claudius the King shows a kind gesture of genuine concern to Hamlet's grieving disposition. He warns Hamlet that over grieving is not healthy. Even when Hamlet verbalizes that clouds still hang over Claudius, Claudius renders a disposition of a long suffering man who will not be ruffled by a 'careless' speech of a grieving prince. The entirety of Claudius disposition gives the image of a noble man who upholds family values who will ‘do his best’ to fill the gap left by his brother's departure. Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father: But, you must know, you father lost a father; That father lost, lost his; and the survivor bound In filial obligation for some term To do obsequious sorrow; but to persever In obstinate condolement is a course . Claudius even compounds the path of Hamlet towards uncovering the truth when he verbalizes that Hamlet is next in line for the throne of Denmark. You are the most immediate to our throne; And with no less nobility of love Act I The effect of the Claudius gestures is directed at sustaining the image he is carving and sustaining of himself in the minds of council and the citizens. Claudius is attempting to build a vacuous image of a noble man. This is the fulcrum upon which the manifestation of betrayal is underpinned. The closer the counterfeit is to the genuine, the higher the deceptiveness. The efforts that Claudius executes in his attempt to veil his true character tally with the significance of the theme of betrayal articulated by Shakespeare in the play. The theme of betrayal in Hamlet is used to leverage the thematic core and plot development of typical tragedy in the philosophical concepts of Aristotle. The entire scenario painted is the actualization of an anticlimax or a fall when the pursuit of revenge by Hamlet results in a lot of death. In Emily Bronte's work, "Wuthering Heights" The themes displacement and dispossession are used to succor the thematic development of the fall. In beginning of the novel Heathcliff has absolutely nothing, her scenario is well illuminated by her lack of the last or family name. Heathcliff loses his privileged status after Mr Earnshaw's death. On another dimension, Heathcliff displaces Hindley in the family structure while on the other end Catherine is thrown out of heaven. Catherine feels displaced and sees herself an exile at Thrushcross Grange in the end if the story. Catherine Hovers around the moors for twenty years as a ghost. It is her quest for a supernatural experience which prompts her to exclaim, "surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here? (Ch. ix, p. 64) The use of the supernatural in the Emily Bronte's work as much as in hamlet is a common aspect which has been manipulated by the authors to enhance their thematic thrust and make moral statements in line with their philosophies. Whilst in hamlet the Ghost is used to by hamlet to bring to the fore pertinent controversies in the mortal fabric of the Elizabethan society governed by Christian values, the ghost in Emily Bronte’s text is used to fulfill the theme of dispossessions and displacement which contribute significantly to the main thrust of the idea of the fall.
In hamlet the role of the Ghosts challenges the Christian value that revenge is a prerogative of God and God alone as the ghost of the late Hamlet demands from Hamlet the prince the vengeance of the Hamlet's (the late king) death. In Emily Bronte's novel, Hareton is also dispossessed of, education as well as social status. On another dimension the themes of displacement and dispossession are illumined when Isabella is unable to return to her loved one Thrushcross Grange and brother. To add to the themes of displacement and dispossession Linton is displaced twice the aftermath of his mother's death. In the first instance he is removed to Thrushcross Grange and then in the second instance he is moved to Wuthering Heights. Cathy is also displaced from her home. The core of the theme of the fall in Emily Bronte's novel is achieved through the various points of thematic confluence in the plot where Catherine's fall come in way of yielding to the comforts and security of Thrushcross Grange. In another perspective the moral teething of the vengeance and quest fro property pursued by Heathcliff represents a fall. In the fear of death Heathcliff' cries out; "My soul's bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself" (Ch. xxxiv, p. 254), has a religious resonance. The author has also painted a picture of fallen world by the representation of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross heights at the end of the novel. Baskerville (2001) notes that while in Hamlet the theme of fall is leveraged on the tragic flaws of the protagonist hamlet the prince which results in a lot of death, displacement and dispositions, the theme of fall in Wuthering heights is premised on the sustained reference to heaven and hell right through the story lin. The references begin with Lockwood's direct reference to Wuthering heights as a misanthrope's heaven" and the reference ends with an implicit hint on the heaven of ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine hovering the moors together.