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Day, Daisy

AP English Lit, Per. 1

Mrs. Willard
Exile: Hamlets Isolation
Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that
Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experienceits essential sadness can
never be surmounted. In Literature, exile is often used by writers so that the reader can
experience this essential sadness and represents a separation from the character and something
that they are comfortable with. One example of this can be seen in the play Hamlet by famous
playwright William Shakespeare who utilizes exile to help the audience experience Hamlets
It is often said that family makes a house a home. Where the people you are closest to
reside is the place where you can feel most comfortable and therefore the most at home.
Hamlets form of exile was not from a physical place, but from the figurative home that is
family. After his father, the king dies; his mother moves on too quickly for Hamlets liking. This
leaves him bitter, angry, and most of all with a strong sense of being cut off from his family and
his happiness. He laments constantly and even goes as far as to consider suicide to escape from
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that his life has become (Hamlet, Act III, scene
i). This displays how he feels alienated by his exile, enough to possibly end his life.

Throughout the story, Hamlets exile slowly shapes him into a new character. At first he
mourns his father and laments in supposedly being the only one doing so. He even goes as far as
to say that The funeral bak'd meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables., or that before
his fathers death could even be recognized his mother had already moved on and was incapable
of feeling the same pain as Hamlet was feeling. But eventually Hamlet grows tired of feeling
exiled and becomes volatile and arrogant. He confronts those who used to be his close friends
with a hostile attitude. He even accuses Guildenstern of playing with Hamlet, much like a flute,
asking 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?. Hamlet continues to let
the feeling of exile guide his decision towards killing King Claudius.
This experience illuminates the meaning of the play and the advancement of the plot
more than any other aspect. If Hamlet had accepted his mothers marriage without question, then
there would be no conflict to create the events that follow his fathers death. But because Hamlet
feels this way, and practically to the point of insanity, it causes him to take actions that he would
not have taken otherwise. More than encountering the ghost of his father, Hamlets own feelings
of isolation and detachment propel him to want to kill the new King, his uncle. Without those
feelings of estrangement he doubtfully would have had enough motivation to avenge his father or
take any action besides potentially committing suicide as he alluded to doing by questioning
whether it was more beneficial to be, or not to be.
In conclusion, exile can be found in many works of Literature, a specific example being
Hamlet feeling cut off from his family and exiled from his old way of life. Exile can often
provide more insight into a character or even develop the plot and can illuminate the meaning of
a work as a whole. Hamlet demonstrates themes that discuss the meaning of life which is further

illuminated by Hamlets feeling of exile because it forces him to find a new meaning to his life
other than his mother and his father and whether or not they are alive or together.

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