Literary Essay Sample: Use of Imagery and Symbolism by Shakespeare

Published: 2019-09-24
Literary Essay Sample: Use of Imagery and Symbolism by Shakespeare
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  English literature Literature Shakespeare Symbolism
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 916 words
8 min read

Images or symbols refer to shapes, objects, colours, characters or shapes used to symbolize something else, commonly an abstract quality or thought. The use of imagery and symbolism generally represent something else by connection, similarity or conventionality. Shakespeare utilizes imagery throughout his literary works, applying images to tell intangible or inconspicuous qualities or ideas in specific. He employs various symbols in the play which facilitate easy understanding and telling of the ideas in his mind (Innes and Michael, 27). The symbols and images used are reinforcing the characters aspects in shaping the themes portrayed in Hamlet. The motives demonstrated include madness, betrayal among others.

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Shakespeare allows for his audience speculative of the several disputable themes open in arguably his most dramatic play. Although Shakespeare systematically uses a copiousness of rhetoric all over the plays, much magniloquence of his prose depends on imagery to think over and reinforce the several contentious motifs he exposes within his pieces of work. Shakespeares Hamlet exhibits ideas of betrayal and madness to which he employs imagery to paint a picture in the audiences mind as to the in-depth sentiments of the plays characters and their different situations. Now that Hamlet is looking for an answer to his questions, for example,to be, or not to be," the reader possibly comprehends his dilemma by the prolonged imagery (Shakespeare, III, i, 58)

Hamlet is disapproved to his mothers headlong wedding as of his foremost monologue at the beginning in the play. Shakespeare utilizes enough imagery to show Hamlets suicidal and sadness views, as he senses his mother has denounced so awesome a king" (Shakespeare, I, ii, 139). Hamlet accounts his mothers fresh fixation: she would cling on him/ as if gain of appetence had grown/ by what it ate on," (Shakespeare, I, ii, 143-145). Shakespeare also applies imagery to affirm the significance of the subject of betrayal, instead of simply remarking that Hamlet feels deceived. Therefore, the reader has a superb understanding of the extent of the theme, and acknowledges its importance. Further, in the play, more imagery is used to extent the motif of betrayal, as Hamlet weeps to his mother of her hapless choice to marry again. He tells her pick was not wise, and likens her imprudent choice to one selected by eyes lacking feeling, feeling minus sight,/ears less eyes or hands,/ smelling sans everything," (Shakespeare, III, iv, 80-83). Hamlet arrogates that even disadvantaged of all but one sense, one would acknowledge the senselessness to the conjoining, and marvels what devil was not" (Shakespeare, III, iv, 78) that obligated Gertrude to marry again such Hyperion to a letch" (Shakespeare, I, ii, 140). Thus, Shakespeare is capable of showing the extent of Hamlets dislike of the marriage, which advances the motive of betrayal that predominates all around the play.

Shakespeare employs imagery to describe a subject of madness. Following the slaying of Polonius, Gertrude demonstrates Hamlets craziness by equating it to the sea under a storm. She exemplifies by announcing Hamlet is as mad as the wind and sea when all argue/ which is the more powerful," (Shakespeare, IV, i, 8-9). Shakespeares application of imagery enables the reviewer to relate the circumstances to a most familiar scenario, thence spotlighting the magnitude of Hamlets madness in the drama. Consequently, Shakespeare expends imagery in Laertes words of Ophilias rage. Through imagery reader is cognizant of his distress, as Laertes weeps, O hotness, dehydrate my brains! Tears several times salt,/ blow out the virtue and sense of my eye!" (Shakespeare IV, v, 130-131). Shakespeare originatively states the salted tears of which Laertes senses could ignite his eyes out, admitting the reader to get into the piece and associate with Laertes sorrow and anguish as he watches Ophilias rage. The sensing of miserableness originates through the imagery given in the genre. Laertes proceeds; Near heaven, where rage shall be gained by weight,/ until our scale turn the glow," (Shakespeare, IV, v, 132-133). Shakespeare introduces imagery once more here to facilitate the reader to see an overflowing surmount of retaliation for Ophilias madness, which will be got in heaven. The motif of madness is presented through the richness of imagery availed by Shakespeare, which grants the reader to associate to the characters at the same time pointing the extrusion of the subject.

In conclusion, due to the use of imagery and symbolism the characters aspects have been reinforced in shaping the themes of betrayal and madness effectively. Whether it is Laertes and Gertrude who clearly explains their wretchedness with images which demonstrate the madness of Ophilia and Hamlet or Hamlet who thinks death to be but a sleep perhaps full of troubling and never-ending incubi, Shakespeare does not flunk to give the reader with a profuseness of grandiosity, like a cornucopia of imagery to instance the motifs of madness and betrayal rich in importance all round his play. The descriptive language arouses sensory know how, enhancing the reviewer to enter Shakespeares Hamlet and acknowledge the key ideas. Giving the reader an ability to link to the characters phenomena by imagery and associations to more conversant considerations, Shakespeare initiates an extra elaborateness of language and persistently speculates and rewards his motives by the attracting proficiency (Brian, 19).

Works cited

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. The Literature Network. Jalic Inc, 22 Feb 2014. Web. 12 Apr 2014. <>.

Shakespeare, William, Philip Edwards, and Brian Gibbons. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014. Print.

Innes, Michael. Hamlet, Revenge!: A Story in Four Parts. North Yorkshire: House of Stratus, 2013. Print.

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