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The concept of the Great Chain of Being was an order in Shakespeare’s time and it’s also very much evident in his play Hamlet. With reference to Hamlet’s first soliloquy it is evident that Shakespeare believes that a woman is supposed to be loyal to her relations and to flirt or marry soon after being widowed is “unrighteous” or “wicked”. Also, she can be seen as representing the less human form, in that with the loss of her loving husband and with little she can turn to her son but she chooses to act lunatic rather than to cope with her loss. Hamlet cannot utter a word against his mother as he is bound in a chain of being according to which he cannot challenge or object to his mother. He is extremely disappointed with his mother for marrying his uncle so soon, and he repudiates his lover Ophelia in the harshest terms. His words often indicate his disgust with his mother and distrust of women in general. Ophelia is not higher to him and that is why he is expressing his anguish to her, rather than to his mother. The concept of the Great chain plays a major role in this play, especially when Hamlet is indecisive about murdering his uncle, as Hamlet is pondering over the fact that whether he should risk position on the chain or play it safe. He thinks that if he pursues to avenge his father by murdering Claudius, he is faced with the dilemma that his act will take him to hell. Here, he fears to lose his position in the chain. But, in the other way, he is the only heir to his father and the responsibility falls on him. Furthermore, his father’s spirit has ordered him to take revenge, which he cannot deny as he is bound in the chain of being subordinate to his father.
The most important of his soliloquies named as “to be or not to be” is the best example and explanation for the great chain of being. Here, Hamlet ponders whether it is nobler to stay alive and avenge his
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