Power Structures in Hamlet

In the Shakespearean play, Hamlet, there appears to be a power structure.

What exactly is a power structure? A power structure is “the hierarchy that encompasses the most powerful people in an organization.”

After reading the first few acts, I thought that the power structure started with Orphelia on the bottom moving to Laertes, Polonius, Hamlet, Gertrude, and finally Claudius.

So I created a power structure through note cards and paper clips.

The papers overlap each other with the one with more power being on top of the other cards. Red is the weakest with the rainbow colors transitioning into purple, the highest power.

Because Orphelia is the daughter of Polonius, who acts as a sort of advisor to the king, she is higher than the average person like soldier Marcellus, Barnardo, and Francisco. However, she is “lower” in the power structure because the society she lives in is hierarchal and male-dominated. With Laertes above her, Polonius hold lots of influence to the king. However, he is not blood related to King Claudius. Hamlet holds a lot of power as the prince, but Gertrude holds more influence. As a result, the remaining order stands as Polonius, then Hamlet, then Gertrude, and finally Claudius.

I also saw that some characters were static, dynamic, round, and flat.

Hamlet clearly stands as a character who is both dynamic and round due to his inner chaos and confusion over the revelation that his father was murdered and his mother decided to marry his uncle just after this occurred.  “That it should come to this!”- Hamlet (Act I, Scene II)

Polonius seems to be static, as someone whose basic character hasn’t appeared to change since the beginning of the story. However, he has a round figure, Like a two-headed snake and a Janus-like character, Polonius is fatherly as demonstrated when he offers his son Laertes, advice – “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” (Act I, Scene III)- and his political and shrewd side when he tries get court information and screw over his son when he [Laertes] is out the country.

Gertrude  is both static and flat,  appearing to a be a child-like, mindless woman. Although she is queen, she appears to lack the analytic and scheming plan of royalty- like Lady Macbeth in one of Shakespeare’s other plays, Macbeth. She is also shown to be shallow and uncaring when she tries to tell Hamlet to “not seek for thy noble father in the dust [because] all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.



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