A major tenet of the ‘Five Stages’ theory which is vital to understanding its practical use is that one is not required to go through the five stages in order, nor is one required to go through all five stages. This is especially important because as a single family, the Danes do not go through all five stages together, instead, however, they go through the five stages individually, and will be addressed in the order stated by Kibble-Ross while identifying parts of the play where these stages were reached with no regard to chronological order. (Kibble-Ross)
Denial is the first stage of Kibble-Ross’ grief map. Denial is a reaction in which a person, attempting to avoid the truth of the situation, develops a false reality or simply ignores the reality at hand. This is likely the most common stage, as denial affects those dealing with all magnitudes of trauma, large and small. (Contracts, 56) Though Hamlet does not go through the stage of denial, it is evident starting in act one, scene two, that the royal family is very much in denial of how much they should be affected by the loss of their king. This is seen through the royal We’ that Queen
But I have that within which passage show; These but the trappings and the suits of woe. ” (Shakespeare, 1. 2. 2) The Royal family, in this scene, had only Just recently lost their king before Claudia and Gertrude married and started their work as regents once again. The biggest implication of their being in the stage of denial is their preoccupation with Formations’ perceived anger rather than Hamlet’s actual sadness. They are too in denial about their son’s and perhaps their own guilt and trauma that they do not help or address the grief at all.
Gertrude is a perfect example of denial because of ere lying to herself and telling herself that everything is perfect and back to normal when it is clearly not. Aphelia also goes through denial on a smaller scale in the first act, as her trauma is losing her love, Hamlet, because of her father’s orders. This denial only grows when she loses her father and he is not given the proper burial rites or respect. She then feels what Hamlet thinks he felt, yet says and does nothing until her suicide because she was very likely in denial about her ability to help at all.
Anger is the second phase of Kibble-Ross’ five stages which is characterized by ass of Judgment and simple rage at either the event which they are grieving, others, and/or themselves. Anger is often associated with madness as it impedes the objective observation skills and, like insanity, can cloud the mind with anything but the truth. (Contracts, 57) The angriest character in all of Hamlet the title character himself, Hamlet.
Hamlet’s anger is especially clear in his rash dealings with his family, which, he is supposed to be bonding with over this shared grief, his visions of his father as a ghost, and his violent outbursts against the denizens of his kingdom. When he enters his mother’s chambers in act three, scene four, he shows many signs of madness and anger, including visions of violence inciting figures, lashing out against his mother, and the murder of Polonium behind the veil. “HAMLET How is it with you, lady? Alas, how sits with you, That you do bend your eye on vacancy And with the incorporeal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep; And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm, Your bedded hair, like life in excrement’s, Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son, Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look? ” (Shakespeare, 3. 4. 18) Bargaining and Depression are slightly similar stages of grieving that as seen in Hamlet, can happen at the same time. Bargaining is characterized by an attempt at negotiating with fate, while depression understands the imminence of death.
This being said, there is no reason why Hamlet could not have been experiencing both of these stages at once. In fact, Hamlet seems to have drifted in and out of these stages in between going through anger and acceptance. (Contracts 58, 59) In act one, scene two, Hamlet demonstrates bargaining and depression by almost asking the all-powerful to take his life away completely, because he is too saddened and maddened by all of this outrageous behavior that he would rather die. “HAMLET O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon ‘against self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie onto! Ah flee! ‘its an unwedded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. (Shakespeare, 1. 2. 6) Again in act three, scene one, Hamlet makes another speech that implies his fickle, suicidal-bargaining tendencies. In this speech he talks about his self-loathing due to his cowardice and he wishes that it could all be over, like a sleep, a quiet end. HAMLET To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ‘its nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? ” (Shakespeare, 3. 1 . 1) Hamlet is not the only character to go through bargaining and depression, though. Aphelia also, in her singing and solemn visits to her father’s “burial site”, clearly shows signs of depression. She acts on these depressed thoughts by taking the bargain of suicide; if she cannot be happy in this world, she should take herself out of it to avoid the pain, and she does.
Acceptance is the bittersweet end to grieving in which individuals come to terms with the fate they are handed, whether it be death, loss, or a reminder of their mortality. (Contracts, 60) The final scene before Formations arrives to Elisions, it is almost as if each character is asking for forgiveness through their passing through he stage of acceptance. Every action, the voluntary drinking of the cup that Claudia does, Laureates’ last words to Hamlet, Gertrude voluntary drinking of the cup so Hamlet would live a bit longer, they all seemed to be actions of final absolution.
Kibble-Ross’ five stages of grief are plentiful in Shakespearean dramas, especially Hamlet, simply because of the massive amounts of tragedies that occur within Hamlet that warrant grieving. The grieving process in Hamlet is easily visible because of the steps laid out by Kibble-Ross and how they match almost exactly with the linings and actions of not only Hamlet, but the whole kingdom, including: Gertrude, Claudia, Laureates, Polonium, and Aphelia.