What is the importance and meaning of ears in Hamlet? There are so many things related with ears (spilling poison to ear, eavesdropping...)

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From the onset of the play, Hamlet, the motif of the ear and hearing is woven throughout the plot. When Hamlet encounters his father's Ghost in Act I, Hamlet tells the Ghost to "Speak, I am bound to hear" (Act 1, Scene 5, line 7). Hamlet gives the Ghost his full attention, and the next lines set the plot in motion for the Ghost's command for Hamlet to take revenge: "So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear" (Act 1, Scene 5, line 8). The theme of revenge, or lack thereof on Hamlet's part, becomes integral to the action in the play. As well, Claudius kills the ear of Denmark, Hamlet's father and Denmark's king, by placing poison in his ear.

As well, eavesdropping and/or spying become a central motif in the play and results in the death of Polonious in Act III. Prior to the death of Polonius, Ophelia agrees to help her father, Polonius, and Claudius to spy on Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern also agree to spy on Hamlet. In this manner, what is said and what is heard drive much of the action in the play. The Danish court is beset by both intrigue and deceit.

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lmillerm eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ears and the act of hearing are a motif that runs throughout Hamlet, which enhances the theme of "Appearance versus Reality." Words and conversations are used as a form of manipulation and corruption. Manipulation is used by some characters (specifically Claudius) to improve their social status or power.

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