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shakespeare


            In William Shakespeare's two most popular works of art, Macbeth and Hamlet, several parts of the plays are similar. These two plays can be compared easily because Shakespeare used the same formula for each of his tragedies. The tragedies use supernatural incidents to intrigue the reader's interest and included in the play is a hero who has a tragic flaw, which eventually causes him to make a fatal mistake. Throughout both of these plays, Shakespeare uses the leit motif of poison, death, ambition, and appearances can be deceiving. We are first introduced to poison in Hamlet in the very beginning of the play. King Hamlet is killed when his brother, Claudius, pours poison into his ear while King Hamlet is asleep in his apple orchard. This causes a fast but excruciating death. Poison is later brought back into the play when Claudius will try to slip a poison into Hamlet's drink of wine. His plan backfires when his wife takes a drink from the cup instead of Hamlet and the poison eventually kills her. During the time of that incident, Hamlet is fencing with Laertes. Laertes sees that Hamlet if far beyond him in his fencing ability, so he decides to wipe the blade of his sword with a cloth soaked in poison. As the fight goes on Hamlet is cut on the arm, causing the poison to slowly seep into his blood. While they are fencing Hamlet is able to switch swords with Laertes and when he stabs him he unknowingly poisons him with the blade of Laertes own sword, eventually leading to his death. Although actual poison was used throughout the play, the poison of the mind was just as important. When Hamlet had learned that Claudius had killed his father for his own greed, Hamlet's mind was poisoned. All he could think of was a way to avenge the death of his beloved father. Later when Hamlet had accidentally killed Polonius thinking he was Claudius, Hamlet had also accidentally "poisoned" two separate minds; Laertes and Ophelia.


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