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Bradley WhitmanMr. Cheung Period 3 1-15-2018Why do people act this way?        In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, there are many things that do not make sense to me. Why did Ophelia become crazy immediately after her dad died? Why did Hamlet come back to fight Laertes, instead of just killing Claudius? The main question that stuck out was why no one cared that the previous king (Hamlet’s dad) died? The went about their duties without any falter and did not seem to be shocked at his sudden death. This question sparked other questionabout how power worked in England and pushed me to research why this was a thing.          My first question was, how can someone become king? In Hamlet Claudius kills the former king creating a dilemma in the line of successors. From some sites( and  it says that Hamlet is the next male in line to become king. Because his mother is Queen and is still alive there is no one to assume the role of king. That is why Claudius married Gertrude, becoming the next male in line to receive the throne. But I thought is this really the only way to become king? No, this is not, but it is the easiest in its circumstance. An alternative would be to invade and take over the kingdom but because he is already considered a high ranking member he was able to marry his way to become king.         Right after the king was killed there was only two things that could have happened the first happening, was that Claudius married Gertrude to assume the role of king, or having Hamlet becoming king. During this time period, mot of the world did not acknowledge the Queen of having the same amount of power as a king. With the threat of Fortinbras’ invading, Denmark could not risk the result of Hamlet’s mom ruling alone. I think that is why Claudius married Gertrude. At the time Hamlet was away at school and was not mature enough to assume the role of king. Without the drama involved in this situation, it makes sense to have married Claudius for him to rule against the impending invasion while Hamlet is still too young to have that responsibility.        Even though I found an answer to how to become a king, it opens the question of “why more people don’t try to take control of the crown?” I a villager was to kill the king would he be punished or revered? Can a king kill another king and gain his kingdom as well as his own? An article on Wikipedia on the topic of the “Divine of kings” has a state that “the idea that God had granted earthly power to the monarch was a well-known concept long before later writers coined the term”( This brings light to the depiction of how royalty is viewed. This provides context that shows how much more power the Kings have apart from their armies and the size of their kingdoms. Viewed as demigods, they radiate a “Divine” power given to them by God. In 1500 almost all of the population were religious, and from the site (, an article talking about the different beliefs in Denmark described the majority being Lutheran. Any person of faith would never consider killing a decedent god and obeyed the king’s commands.        Adding on to this topic this justifies why they acted so scared when the guards say the ghost of Hamlet’s father at the start of the play. They regarded him as a King even though he was dead. In the Mesopotamian culture, kings were considered to be “deities”(  after death and were more powerful than when they lived. This helped royal families to keep control of the throne, scaring people away from trying to uprise or challenge the throne. This way of thinking also helps out the main question of why there was not a lot of mourning when their king died. He is not truly “dead” and still powerful and watching over them.        At the end of the book, Prince Fortinbras arrives with his army, opening the castle doors to see that all of the royal family is dead.  When translating the text to modern English Fortinbras part can be summarized to him saying. “I’m really lucky to see all of the royal family dead, I call the kingdom.” The best part of it all is that’s exactly happens. Without an heir to the throne the line of nobility stops and Prince Fortinbras becomes the new king of Denmark.        Traveling to the modern era many of the dynasties of the past have been brought down by revolutions and governments have formed more of a democracy. One of the few that remain is the royal family in England. In Britain, the way they rule has changed, and they are now using the format of a “constitutional monarchy”. From the site it talks about the roles that the king and queen have and what powers that they hold. In the 21st century the king and queen act as an ” a focus for national identity, gives a sense of stability and continuity and act as peacekeepers or ambassadors.” (royal.UK) Unlike the previous versions of their role, most of the people do not hold any executive power, and cannot make laws. This makes it hard for any corruption to happen, now that they don’t have control of the country. The way the crown is passed down is the same, however, and changes when the previous person dies and the next family member in line will be called upon for this role. As the “role model” they are considered a tradition and show no signs of people wanting to remove them from their role.        Overall I’m pretty impressed with how the play fits into its era so well. As a dramatic play I thought many of the actions made would be for the excitement, rather than the accuracy of the time period but from all the research that I’ve done I can’t find any glaring errors that would not happen. This is one of the first times that I have gone in depth in finding answers to a book (or play in book form) to understand how real something really was. It actually helped me understand the characters motive better and gave a reason to why people responded the way that they did.

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