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Hamlet Vs Death Of A Sales Man Essay, Research Paper
Hamlet and Death of a Salesman:
The different relationships that a person experiences
throughout their life greatly affects their state of mind. If a person
is already troubled, then their mental health is susceptible to being
swayed for better or worse. Hamlet, and Death of a Sales Man are
plays which focus on the power a relationship has over ones state
of mind. In Hamlet it is Hamlet himself whose mental state is
altered by relationships in his life. Similarly, in Death of a Sales
Man, the relationships of the main character, Willy Loman,
transform his state of mind as well. From the start, Willy and
Hamlet are psychologically troubled. As the play progresses each
man s state of mind is exacerbated by their relationships with
intimate partners, friends, and family.
In the play Hamlet, Hamlet s intimate relationship with
Ophelia changes his mental state for the worse. In a letter
Hamlet wrote Ophelia, it says Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never
doubt I love (Shakespeare 2.2.116-120). This poem clearly
indicates that Hamlet suspects Ophelia of lying to him, but never
the less he still loves her. Love is a powerful emotion and its effect
over mind and body are tremendous. This battle between Hamlet s
heart and his trust in Ophelia would affect the strongest of minds.
Similarly, in Death of a Salesman, Willy s wife Linda negatively
affects his state of mind. The only difference here is that Linda is
unconscious as to how her actions are affecting Willy. Linda s
effect on Willy is shown when she is in the kitchen mending her
stockings and Willy angrily takes the stockings from her and says,
I won t have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw
them out! (Miller 687). Willy says this because the act of Linda
mending her stockings brings back a slew of memories about an
affair Willy had had. Willy loves Linda and memories about a past
affair plays with his emotions. This internal conflict toys with
Willy and endangers his mental well being. In both plays, intimate
partners vastly affect each character s state of mind.
Another relationship in the play Hamlet that affects Hamlet s
well being is that with his friends. The two friends that contribute
to Hamlet s madness are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The King
addresses Hamlet s two friends and says:
I entreat you both that, being of so young days brought
up with him (Hamlet), and sith so neighbored to his
youth and havior, that you vouchsafe your rest here in
our court some little time, so by your companies to
draw him on to pleasures, and to gather so much as
from occasion you may glean, whether aught to us
unknown afflicts him thus, that opened lies within our
remedy. (Shakespeare 2.2.10-19)
This shows that the King asks Guildenstern and Rosencrantz
to spy on Hamlet. Having his friends sneak around him and have
ulterior motives to spending time with him, makes Hamlet
suspicious of their intentions. Having this mistrust in his childhood
friends who he loved dearly deranged his mind. Similarly, in
Death of a Salesman, Willy s relationship with his friend Charley
has negative effects on Willy s state of mind. After Willy loses his
job as a Salesman, he refuses to accept Charlie s job offer. They
both get into a bit of an argument and Charley says, “You been
jealous of me all your life, you damned fool! (Miller 724).
Jealousy is a dangerous emotion that can foul up any man s head.
To harbor such jealousy, over your best friend s life since
childhood, would make anyone s state of mind take a turn for the
worse. In both plays, relationships with friends dangerously
corrupts each man s mind.
The final relationship that affects Hamlet s mental health is
his relationship with his family. This is the relationship which
affects Hamlet s state of mind the greatest. Queen Gertrude says it
best when she says, I doubt it is no other but the main, His
father s death and our o erhasty marriage (Shakespeare 2.2.56-
57). As the Queen has said, the death of his Father and the haste
marriage of his mother to his uncle are the leading cause of
Hamlet s madness. These are the greatest factors that lead Hamlet
into insanity. If these same two actions would happen to any man
their state of mind would be altered in a way close to that of
Hamlet. Likewise Willy s state of mind is affected with his
relationship with his son Biff. He feels anger towards his father
who hits the nail right on the head when he says, Everything he
does is to spite me (Miller 746). Willy loves Biff with all his heart
and Biff hates his father. This hurts his father to no end, and
makes his father emotionally unstable. This is the major factor that
led to Willy s madness. In both plays, the primary character s
relationships with their families are the most severe for them, and
are the most significant factors leading to their unstable states of
mind, well being and irrational behavior.
The driving force behind the apparent madness of Willy and
Hamlet, is a direct cause of their different relationships. Their love
for their intimate partners mixed with betrayal, altered both of their
states of mind. Moreover, their relationships with friends brought
out horrid emotions that created a volatile slew of thoughts in both
characters heads. In addition, both of their relationships with their
families proved to be the most significant for them, and was the
major force behind their madness. Relationships throughout our
lives, no matter how small, form who we are significantly define
our state of mind.
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