The Power of Moral Duality in Hamlet

The author Izaak Walton noted, "The person that loses their conscience has nothing left worth keeping." The characters in Hamlet constantly struggle with the power of their consciences, as they are tempted to satiate their innermost desires. Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is the epitome of the power of conscience in the play. Although at first he is ruled by his conscience, he only begins to carry out his father's will as he alienates himself from his sense of morality. However, the other characters in Hamlet also feel the power of conscience as they consider actions they are about to perform and as they reflect upon their past deeds. Shakespeare utilizes the struggle between morality and immorality to create characters with real depth and with whom the audience can connect. The presence and duality of conscience in Shakespeare's Hamlet illustrates the depth of Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet.

The depth of Laertes is evident in his struggle with his conscience on his quest to avenge the murder of his father, Polonius. When Laertes learns of his father's murder, he return from France enraged. He seeks immediate vengeance and cries, "Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!" (4.5.131) Clearly,...

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