Chaos and Disorder in HamletHow does Shakespeare present chaos and disorder in Hamlet and how does this contribute to your understanding of tragedy? 

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Chaos and disorder occur from the very beginning of the play. Denmark has lost its king and Fortinbras of Norway is threatening to invade. Horatio remarks on this as he watches for the ghost in Act I and Claudius sends an envoy to the king of Norway asking him to stop his nephew from invading. Disorder also occurs in the ruling family. Hamlet discovers that his father, the late king of Denmark, was murdered by his uncle and spends the entire play either researching the truth or plotting revenge. The house of Claudius is never put into order because of the threats from both Hamlet and Fortinbras. Hamlet is also acting as if he were insane, adding to the chaos that already exists in Claudius' administration. All of this comes to a climax at the end of the play when Fortinbras enters and finds all of the royal family dead. In their search for power and revenge, they have caused the disorder that eventually destroys them. Fortinbras is then able to restore order by taking control of Denmark.

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