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Hamlet Motifs by Mind Map: Hamlet Motifs
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Hamlet Motifs

the bloody ending scene


Lots of words that have to do with wheels: revolution, spokes, knave, whirling (for example, see link, line 3430)

Birth and Death


23yr old

Hamlet's Birth = Denmark takes over Norway

Hamlet's father's death is the birth of another king, Claudius

Hamlet's death is to the birth of another king in Denmark, Fortinbras



king's flesh in begger's belly

worms eat dead king, fish eat worms, beggers eat fish

Ophelia's dead body being burried underground

everyone goes back to the soil in the end.


leprous distillment


Gertrude drinks this and dies

sharing food or drink = union

envenomed sword

Laertes reveals all the truth "King is to blame"

"O, this is the poison of deep grief" (4.5.72)

poison leads to death: in this case Ophelia was poisoned with grief, which led to suicide.

The poison used to kill King Hamlet



poison in the ear distorts the truth

Ears can represent gullibility. Claudius mentions ears a couple of times when speaking in front of his people (deceit)

Maybe Claudius did not literally kill King Hamlet by pouring liquid into him. Shakespeare could have meant it figuratively: Claudius could have framed King Hamlet, Whether Claudius really did or not, it tells about his use of authority. He poisons Demark's ears, by telling the untrue story., "So the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abus'd." (775) "process of my death" would be the poisoning. Ghost is talking about how Claudius is doing the same to the country.

"The rest... is silence" -Hamlet's last words


First choices then comes fate

Ophelia's Death: choice

Horatio: Heaven will direct it (1.4.66)

Horatio foreshadows everything., He talks like a prophet.

"O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!" (1.5.196-197)

"You will lose this wager, my lord." (5.2.156)


Hamlet to Rosencratz and Guildenstern

Hamlet to Claudius

Laertes to Hamlet

Fortinbras to King Hamlet




the Oedipus complex, Sigmund Freud, The idea that people are motivated by sex and aggression. (Seems to include every character in the play)

Women seem to be blamed the most. Hamlet criticizes women

Hamlet is constantly exposed to the bad side of women (Ophelia, Gertrude) - therefore his perspective on women is not so positive., Frailty, thy name is woman

criticizes women for painting their faces that God gave them with makeup and lies


Hamlet feigns madness, but he seems to be really mad in aspects

insanity is triggered by Gertrude's marriage to Claudius plus the king's death

Ophelia becomes mad after Polonius's death

insanity triggered by Hamlet's refusal of her love


Ophelia Drowining

Hamlet's thoughts about suicide - "To be or not to be"

Christian's perspective regarding this issue

"Is she to be buried in Christian burial that willfully seeks her own salvation?" (5.1. 1-2)

suicide is a sin, therefore one who commits suicide does not deserve Christian burial


"Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king." (2.2.594)

"Oh, ’tis too true! How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!" (3.1.50), conscience=feeling of guilty

truth vs. uncertainty

Hamlet was not sure if the ghost was trully his father's spirit or a devil playing tricks on him

"The spirit that I have seen / May be the devil, and the devil hath power / T'assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps / Out of my weakness and my melancholy / As he is very potent with such spirits" (2.2. 587-591)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, that are dreamt of in your philosopy

the ugly truth

Although Hamelt tells his mother, Gertrude, that Claudius is the murder of the previous king, she seems to continue to believe in Claudius., "As kill a king?" asks Gertrude when Hamlet tells her the truth (3.4. 31). She seems to not trust Hamlet's words.

Uncertainty of the unnatural murder -"Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." (1.5.24)- is proven as truth.


time span


Gertrude vs Ophelia

Women seem to be generally powerless, but Gertrude has more power than Ophelia because she is the queen., Gertrude's death is shown and she is a more active character than Ophelia--who is passive.