Ideologies in real life
In one’s life, there are many ideologies that are pressing on them; from religion to education to the police force and many more. All of these ideas and groups of people occupy one’s mind and begin to evade into one’s everyday life. Religion is one ideology that this evasion can be seen or known of the most; most everyone believes in something and those be beliefs spill into everyday life and what the outcomes can be. This idea can be found not only in today’s world but also in Hamlet.
In Althusser’s essay, “Ideology” and “Ideological” begins to explain what he believes to be an imaginary established repressors that are found in everyday life which he calls Ideological State Apparatuses. These apparatuses are different than those of the State Apparatuses; Althusser states that the differences between these two apparatuses is quite simple,the Ideological State Apparatuses is part of the private domain while the State Apparatuses are part of the public domain.One big Ideological State Apparatuses that Althusser looks at is that of the ideology of religion; ideology for this context is a worldwide view. Religion can be seen in most everyone’s lives; when one begins to look at religion and how it shapes who one thinks, one can see that religion has a strong hold on how one makes decisions.
One place that religion is seen is when Hamlet speaks with the Ghost:
Ghost:I am thy father’s spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
And for the day confined to fast in fires
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away.
What is going on here is that two different religious ideas are going brought to the fore ground. The first ideas is the fact that the ghost states that he is the spirit of Hamlet’s father which shows that when someone dies they do become other worldly. The following that idea the ghost states that he is stuck in a what one can understand to be purgatory for some reason; the belief is that these Purgatorial ghost/spirits where in purgatory to have their souls purged until they could make it to heaven. Usually, the spirits come back to ask loved ones to pray for them so that they can be freed from purgatory but that is not the case with this spirit. This spirit who says he is the spirit of Hamlet’s father asks Hamlet to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.”(1.5.25). Though not quite clear whether the main religion in Hamlet is Protestant or Catholic, both believe murder to be a sin so Hamlet’s father is asking him to go against the ideologies that he has been taught to follow which Hamlet is willing to do to right the wrong that has been done.
One place that is is put to the test is in reference to Hamlet is when he has the opportunity to avenge his father:
Hamlet: Now might I do it [pat], now ‘a is a-praying;
And now I’ll do’t- and so ‘a goes to heaven,
And so am I [reveng’d]. That would be scann’d…
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season’d for his passage?
Here Hamlet walks in on Claudius praying for what he thinks is the sin of kill his father. Hamlet has the chance to kill him right there but his religious ideology step in. He beings to see that Claudius is praying which is seen as a good practice in the eyes of God so if he kills him while he is doing that act he will go to heaven instead of hell which is when Hamlet believes Claudius deserve to go. What is revealed about the religious ideology in this scene is first that here is a heaven and a hell to which one will go to once they die. The second ideology is that your actions while you are living determine when you will end up when you die;Hamlet wholeheartedly believes in both of these ideologies. He clearly wants Claudius to go to hell which means he believes that there is one and that Claudius did a wrong action so that action places Claudius in hell. Here in this scene Claudius ,by doing something good, praying, one will end up in heaven. Hamlet also thinks he knows where Claudius is going to end up where he brings death upon. Hamlet in the ends up letting the ideology take over his decision; he will wait until Claudius is doing something bad so that he ends up where he belongs in hell.
The evasion of religion into everyday life is also present in Ophelia’s burial:
First Clown: Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she willfully seeks her own salvation?
Second Clown: I tell thee is, therefore make her grave straight. The crowner hath sate on her, and finds it Christian burial.
First Clown: How can that be, unless she drown’d herself in
her own defense?
Second Clown: Why, ’tis found so…
But is this law?
First Clown: Ay, marry, is’t-crowner’s law.
Second Clown: Will you ha’ the truth an’t? If this had not
been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out a’
Christian burial?(5.1 1-24)
Here the two clowns are preparing Ophelia’s grave for her burial. What the first clown is struggling with is the fact that the church states that if someone kills themselves, they do not deserve a Christian burial; a rule that is established by the church but Ophelia is receiving a proper burial even though she killed herself. What it comes down to is the fact that money and status were able to change the rule of the church. Here is a point in the play where due to an outside factor, the ideology was not followed but instead reversed.
In the end, Hamlet kills Claudius but not before his mother dies and he himself is deathly injured. Yes Hamlet got his revenge but at what cost? By going against the ideology of religion, Hamlet caused the downfall of many others including himself and all for what? Avenging his father? Getting back at his uncle? Hamlet started off strong by keeping these ideologies in his mind but once those went out of his mind bad things began to happen. These ideologies are the backbone of what keep things in order so by stripping them away chaos ensued.
Wofford,Susanne. Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism: William Shakespeare Hamlet
Althusser, Louis. “Ideology” and “Ideological” ,Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism p.1483-1509