In
class, we have read Hamlet by William
Shakespeare, Pride and Prejudice by
Jane Austen and watched Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated film Notorious. While both watching and reading these great works I came
to realize how each of them represent the theme of desire in very distinct
ways.  Even though most people tend to
equate the word desire with love or lust, it can also be portrayed in other
forms.  By consuming the works of
Shakespeare, Austen, and Hitchcock I found that they each depicted desire in a
different light which helped drive the stories that they were telling. In this
paper, I hope to argue how even though the authors use the theme desire in the
works, they each define the term in different ways which in turn helps drive
their plot.

 Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of the most known and popular plays in literary
history. The play represents many themes, however the one that I would like to
focus on is this idea of desire. In the play, Shakespeare depicts the theme of
desire when highlighting Hamlet’s desire for revenge against his uncle
Claudius, the person who murdered his father. 
Throughout the play, Hamlet spends the majority of his time
contemplating his uncle’s murder instead of actually going through with the act
until the end. Hamlet’s desire for vengeance against his uncle plays a
prominent role in developing the plot because it’s what ultimately leads to him
becoming ‘mad’ and obsessed with the idea of murdering his uncle. For example,
when Hamlet is watching the play put on by Claudius and realizes that he is
guilty, his desire for revenge grows stronger but he still contemplates if he
should do it. Hamlet’s burning desire for revenge functions as the main feature
that helps develop the idea of death throughout the play. For example, in Act 4
Scene 5, when Hamlet states “O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or
be nothing worthy!” the idea of death and knowing that if he went through with
it he would be responsible for his uncle’s death becomes a scary thought for
him and causes him to go mad. His soliloquies throughout the play also play a
big role in the theme of desire as Hamlet goes back and forth with the idea of
killing his uncle which in turn fuels his desire for revenge. Even though
desire is most often portrayed as healthy, in the case of this play, desire is
considered to be problematic and its was ultimately drives Hamlet to go crazy
and kill his uncle and ultimately what leads him to his own death.

In
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,
the theme of desire becomes evident when analyzing the relationships between
the characters. Throughout the book, desire is expressed in more ways than one
and the desire between the characters becomes difficult to come by because of
the social norms in their society. In the novel, Austen portrays desire as
restricted desire and displaced desire. Desire is restricted because the
characters are unwilling to express how they truly feel about each other. In
the case of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship 
Darcy refuses to admit his love for Elizabeth and it’s not until the end
of the novel when Darcy finally admits his love for her when he states to
Elizabeth “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you
(34.4).” Darcy also displaces his desire for Elizabeth towards the beginning of
the novel when he is incapable of expressing his love for Elizabeth because of
his pride and his social standing in society. For example, during the dance
scene, Darcy states about Elizabeth that she is “tolerable; but not handsome
enough to tempt me.” In the novel, Austen uses desire as something that the
characters use to defy the norms of society and do what they ultimately
desire.  I believe that Austen views
desire as healthy and essential in providing the characters with the decision
to ignore societies view on marriage and do what they want to do instead.

In
Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, Ingrid
Bergman’s character Alicia is portrayed as a dangerous object of desire rather
than a desirable object. For starters, she is introduced in the beginning of
the film as the daughter of a convicted spy. Due to the outcome of her father’s
trial, Alicia acts up and uses alcohol, partying, and men as a way of escaping
her sadness about her father’s criminality. Alicia is presented as a dangerous
object of desire through her characteristics and her actions. Throughout the
film, Alicia is portrayed as dangerous, threatening and “the bad guy” while
Devlin is presented as “the hero.” For example, in the end of the film, Devlin
comes to Alicia’s rescue when she gets poisoned by Sebastian’s mother. In this
film, Desire functions as a way to portray Alicia as dangerous and corrupt
while Devlin is portrayed as a victor who comes to her rescue. Even though both
Alicia and Devlin desired each other, Alicia’s strong desire for Devlin’s love
causes her to make choices that almost killer her in the end.

            Shakespeare,
Austen and Hitchcock all use the idea of desire drastically different
throughout their work. On the one hand Shakespeare uses desire to help drive
the plot while Austen uses desire to help the characters defy societal norms
and make individual choices and Hitchcock uses desire as a catalyst that leads
Alicia to do the things that she does and in turn represents her as a dangerous
women who men shouldn’t desire. Even though the idea of desire can be found in
each of these works, the authors each use it in very distinct ways.