What tactile imagery is used in Hamlet?

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Writers use tactile imagery to provide description for readers to understand what a character touches and feels. It is especially effective as a contrast in Shakespeare's Hamlet because Hamlet has many non-tactile experiences. The visual appearances of his father's ghost are a good example of visual imagery.

In act 1,...

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Writers use tactile imagery to provide description for readers to understand what a character touches and feels. It is especially effective as a contrast in Shakespeare's Hamlet because Hamlet has many non-tactile experiences. The visual appearances of his father's ghost are a good example of visual imagery.

In act 1, scene 4, as the ghost of Hamlet's father departs, Hamlet announces his intention to follow it. Marcellus and Horatio physically restrain Hamlet. In response, he tells them "hold off your hands." He is desperate to know the truth of his father's death and afterlife, but his friends fear for him and hold him back. They physically anchor him to reality. The insubstantial nature of the ghost is contrasted with the human strength of his friends's grasp.

When Hamlet arranges for the play that Gertrude and Claudius will watch in act 3, scene 2, he is hoping to elicit a reaction that will indicate guilt. There is no dialogue in the play, but the imagery is tactile and succeeds in provoking Claudius. The action of the play is described as such:

...the Queen embracing him and he her. She kneels and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up and declines his
head upon her neck. He lies him down upon a bank of flowers. She, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in another man, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours poison in the sleeper’s ears, and leaves him. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, makes passionate action. The poisoner with some three or four come in again, seem to condole with her. The dead body is carried away. The poisoner woos the Queen with gifts.

In act 3, scene 3, Hamlet has an opportunity to kill Claudius while the king kneels in prayer. He draws, and then sheathes, his sword. These acts are a tactile demonstration of how he holds the power of life and death over Claudius at this moment. In the next scene, Hamlet kills Polonius by thrusting his rapier through the arras and into Polonius's body, killing him.

There is abundant use of tactile imagery in act 5,scene 2 as Hamlet engages in a fatal duel with Laertes. They strike blows upon each other, and by play's end, the bodies of Hamlet, Laertes, Gertrude,and Claudius all drop to the floor.

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