Hamlet

Hamlet One of the most unique elements of the Hamlet character is that he is so human. Many types of readers can identify with him. Hamlet is imperfect, and he is fretful. Hamlet has human properties, and it is his humanity that I intend to explore. Indeed it is these human qualities and imperfections that make his story so tragic. Another tragic part of the play is the plays irony.

Irony is an important tool in the hands of the playwright to achieve both comical and/or dramatic effect. There is usually little reason for a tragedy to be funny, so Shakespeare has used this tool to add more tragedy to the play. I will investigate the nature of this irony. Also, I will investigate the types of conflict that play a major part in the play and the relationships between Hamlet and the two people who have been closest to him; Ophelia and the Ghost. Hamlet cannot share his strong feelings and emotions with his mother or his girlfriend.

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While his mother is literally sleeping with the enemy, Ophelia has chosen the side of Claudius because of her father, Polonius. It is especially difficult for Hamlet to talk to Ophelia. The only other woman in his life, Gertrude, has betrayed his father by marrying Claudius. Hamlet may be obsessed with the idea that all women are evil, yet he really does love Ophelia, because when he finds out Ophelia has died, he cries out, “I lov’d Ophelia; forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum.”(Act V, Scene 1) The ghost provides Hamlet with a dilemma. In Shakespeare’s plays, supernatural characters are not always to be trusted; think of the three witches in MacBeth, who are instrumental in his downfall.

Hamlet does not know whether the ghost is telling the truth or not. If Hamlet had killed Claudius solely on the ghost’s advice, he would certainly have been tried and put to death himself. There would probably have been a war to choose the new king. Being the humanitarian that he is, and taking account of his responsibilities as a prince and future king, Hamlet most likely would want to avoid civil war. Even though Claudius is a murderer, and probably not as noble a king as Hamlet’s father was, he is still a king. He brings order to Denmark.

Hamlet does not wish to plunge his country into chaos. He realizes that this will happen when he kills Claudius. Hamlet is unable to combine the spiritual world (in the form of his father’s ghost) with the tangible, every-day world that surrounds him. There is much irony throughout this play. One occurrence of irony I found particularly striking was the fact that Hamlet effectively maneuvers himself into the same position as Claudius.

Claudius had attacked and killed a man who did not have the opportunity to defend himself, but when Hamlet kills Polonius, is he not guilty of the same? It is intriguing that both Claudius and Hamlet have killed fathers. It is interesting to see how these two completely different characters deal with this problem in different ways. Other interesting parallels I found are the numerous deaths by poison. Hamlet’s father was murdered by Claudius with poison. In the final act, the queen is the first to be poisoned, by drinking from Hamlet’s cup. Then, Hamlet is wounded by the poisoned tip of Laertes’ sword.

When they change swords, Hamlet gets the upper hand and Laertes is poisoned. When the queen dies, Laertes explains all to Hamlet, before he dies. Hamlet then kills Claudius before dying himself. It is ironic that, as Claudius is poisoned because of his own plotting, he had already signed his own death warrant when he killed Hamlet’s father, the first tragic action of the play. There are only three people in this play who don’t die by poisoning: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet their deaths in England, after being outsmarted by Hamlet.

The third is Ophelia, who is drowned. There are three types of conflict I can identify in the play: ‘man versus man’, ‘man versus nature’ and ‘man versus himself’. Hamlet’s fight with Laertes in Ophelia’s grave and the subsequent duel would both easily classify as ‘man versus man’ conflicts. Man also struggles with nature in this play, most notably in the form of Ophelia’s drowning and Hamlet’s crossing the sea to England – although the latter conflict plays more of a background role. The ‘man versus himself’ conflict is most directly exposed in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, where he is wrestling with his conscience.

The realization he comes to in this soliloquy is that we are afraid to kill ourselves because we do not know what is to be found after death. Another ‘man versus himself’ conflict is Claudius’ inability to pray. He cannot really justify his past deeds. For him this is actually another step into darkness. Hamlet may be a thinking man; however, this does not mean he actually likes to think.

Although he might have liked to think in the time preceding the play, when the time has come for him to take action, he cannot because of this urge to contemplate. His capacity of thinking becomes a handicap rather than an advantage. And this is not even the most painful or tragic part of the Hamlet character. The biggest problem is that he is aware of this. Not only is he incapable of acting without thinking, he knows that this is the case, which makes the burden even heavier. Hamlet cannot face reality. It is already a traumatic experience for him when he has to believe the words of the ghost, and actually the ghost’s demanding him to act on this information is too much for him.

Hamlet is however, a man of decision. But he is also contemplative. He needs to think in order to justify his actions, and his intellectual characteristics are the major difference between Claudius and himself. Hamlet is very aware of the relationship between action and reaction and realizes that he has to proceed very carefully. In the play, Claudius is the decisive character, and the man of action.

He takes the first action, the action that sets the story in motion – the poisoning of Hamlet’s father. He also instigates the final action, the poisoning of the blades and the cup; an action that will backfire and cause his own death. In the play, there seems to be a constant shift of action, where only one party can act at any time. These two parties are of course Hamlet and Claudius. When Claudius has taken the action that secures him the throne, he allows Hamlet to become the man of action.

But Hamlet procrastinates. The only action Hamlet takes is staging the play, which seems more to serve the purpose to establish that Claudius is indeed guilty of his father’s murder. He does this for himself and for Horatio. Then he proceeds to kill the eavesdropping Polonius. Hamlet is given the chance to avenge ”this foul and most unnatural murder” when he sees Claudius praying.

Hamlet, being a Christian prince, cannot bring himself to kill Claudius while he is praying, as this would secure his place in heaven. Hamlet wants to make sure Claudius will suffer in the afterlife, just as his father did. Hamlet leaves just before Claudius gets up, declaring he cannot pray; “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go” (Claudius, Act III, Scene 3). Had Hamlet known Claudius was unable to pray, then he could have had his revenge right then and there, instead of waiting until the end, and taking everyone else with him. Most of the other characters would probably have acted much quicker than Hamlet if they were in his position.

Imagine Polonius in the situation Hamlet found himself in. He would not procrastinate as much. It would have most likely been off with the head of the murderer! Any other character in the play would not have stayed as quiet as Hamlet does (confiding only in his best friend, and even keeping the truth from his mother until the end of Act III). Although not every one of them might have come to killing Claudius. But Hamlet does not seem to do anything.

Again, he thinks too much. But why? Hamlet is self-conscious, while the majority of characters that surround him are not. This explains why he feels inhibited to act. Hamlet resembles a real person more than any other character in the play, which might be another reason why he still remains a subject of discussion, and why the play remains so popular. Hamlet is one of the most interesting characters in English fiction because we can identify with him, and understand, although not always agree with his actions. Hamlet is also set apart by his elusiveness. Many of the characters in the play can be categorized within minutes of their introduction. I’m not calling them caricatures, but there is definitely a caricature-like side to some of them. The pompous Polonius and the deceitful and thick-headed Guildenstern and Rozencrantz come to my mind.

However, this does not hold true for some other characters, such as Laertes and Ophelia. The character of Hamlet refuses categorization. Interesting with regard to this is his love of theater. He is particularly interested in the idea that things may seem different from what they really are, just like the people that surround him. His mother is no longer his father’s wife, but his uncle’s, his girlfriend is no longer there for him, and Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are no longer his friends.

Also, he is aware that he will have to disguise himself and his real motives and goals in order to attain them – this is why he fakes his madness. It is not until he picks up Yorick’s skull in the beginning of Act V that he finds out what is real and what not. In the end, when the truth is revealed and everyone’s “masks” are removed, death is all that is to be found.

Hamlet

Hamlet In the first three acts of the play Hamlet, King Claudius go through a subtle, but defined change in character. Claudius role in the play begins as the newly corrinated king of Denmark. The former king, King Hamlet, was poisoned by his brother, Claudius, while he was asleep. Claudius, however, made it known to everyone that the king died of a snakebite in the garden, and thus no one knew of the murder that had just taken place making his murder the perfect crime. The only problem that Claudius must deal with now is his conscience. After Claudius commits the deed of killing King Hamlet, he almost immediately marries Hamlet’s wife, Queen Gertrude.

Claudius also gains a new son, his former nephew Hamlet, the son of King Hamlet. Young Hamlet is very displeased with his mother’s hasty marriage of Claudius and is angered by this incest. Hamlet has a deep attraction for his mother which goes beyond the traditional, mother-son relationship. At this point in the play, Hamlet does not know that Claudius has murdered his father, but he dislikes him anyway. Claudius is not a bad king, which is demonstrated by his handling of the situation between Young Fortinbras and Denmark, but he is not extremely popular with the people and has brought back the obnoxious custom of firing the cannons whenever the king takes a drink.

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Claudius’ conscience, here is non-existent. After the ghost of the dead King Hamlet tells Hamlet to avenge his murder, Hamlet has a reason to truly hate Claudius. From this point on in the play, there is definitely friction between the two. When Claudius offers Hamlet the throne after he dies, Hamlet acts apathetic as if the rule of Denmark was, but a mere trifle. Hamlet enters a deep depression which the king and others, see as madness.

First they think that Hamlet is lovesick over Polonius’ daughter, Ophelia, but after the king spies on Hamlet and Ophelia in conversation, he comes to the conclusion that Hamlet is mad, a threat to his rule, and must be sent to England to be executed. This is a sign of the king’s uneasiness over the mettle of Hamlet’s anger which is directed towards him. The last thing that Claudius wants is for Hamlet to be unhappy with him, in fear that Hamlet will overthrow him, discover the murder, or possibly kill him. The king becomes increasingly nervous as time passes, making him a bit paranoid over Hamlet. By the beginning of Act III, Hamlet is almost ready to kill Claudius, but he still needs more proof that Claudius killed his father, and he also wants to put off the murder because he is a bit of a coward. Claudius is beginning to lose his composure.

Hamlet decides to set a trap for him in the form of a play. The subject of the play is the murder of a king by his brother who, in turn, marries the king’s wife. The plot of the play is strikingly similar to the circumstances of King Hamlet’s murder, which strikes a disharmonious chord in the conscience of Claudius. In the middle of the play during the murder scene, Claudius gets up and begs for the play to stop so that he can get some air. Hamlet is very angered by this because it confirms that Claudius did kill his father. Later that night, Claudius prays to god to forgive him for his sins, but he is not ready to give up his new crown and his new wife. Guilt has begun to cloud over Claudius’ thoughts, and it will indeed drive him to the brink of insanity and beyond.

Hamlet spies Claudius, praying with his back turned and on his knees, but he passes up the opportunity to kill the monarch with the excuse of not wanting to accidentally send Claudius to Heaven. The development of Claudius’ guilt is a gradual transformation. This metamorphosis will come to a head later in the play. The guilt though, has already begun to affect the actions of Claudius in his everyday life, by transforming a normal night out to the theater into a devastating insight into his own life. Hamlet, although he does not know it, is a key instrument in bringing about Claudius’ guilt, and Gertrude is still a bit nervous about her marriage with Claudius.

Claudius life, because of the murder, will never be the same because he cannot bear to live with his conscience. This flaw will be his downfall.

Hamlet

Hamlet HAMLETS MADNESS: Hamlet is mad, feigns madness or his pretense turns into real madness. Outline arguments for all three and discuss. 1.Hamlet begins with guards whose main importance in the play is to give credibility to the ghost. If Hamlet were to see his fathers ghost in private, the argument for his madness would greatly improve. Yet, not one, but three men together witness the ghost before even thinking to notify Hamlet. As Horatio says, being the only of the guards to play a significant role in the rest of the play, Before my God, I might not this believe / Without the sensible and true avouch / Of mine own eyes. (I.i.56-8) Horatio, who appears frequently throughout the play, acts as an unquestionably sane alibi to Hamlet again when framing the King with his reaction to the play. That Hamlet speaks to the ghost alone detracts somewhat from its credibility, but all the men are witness to the ghost demanding they speak alone. Horatio offers an insightful warning: What if it tempts you toward the flood, my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff That beetles oer his base into the sea, And there assume some other horrible form Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason, And draw you into madness? Think of it. (I.iv.69-74) Horatios comment may be where Hamlet gets the idea to use a plea of insanity to work out his plan. The important fact is that the ghost does not change form, but rather remains as the King and speaks to Hamlet rationally.

There is also good reason for the ghost not to want the guards to know what he tells Hamlet, as the play could not proceed as it does if the guards were to hear what Hamlet did. It is the ghost of Hamlets father who tells him, but howsomever thou pursues this act, / Taint not thy mind. (I.v.84-5) Later, when Hamlet sees the ghost again in his mothers room, her amazement at his madness is quite convincing. Yet one must take into consideration the careful planning of the ghosts credibility earlier in the play. After his first meeting with the ghost, Hamlet greets his friends cheerfully and acts as if the news is good rather than the devastation it really is.

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Horatio: What news, my lord? Hamlet: O, wonderful! Horatio: Good my lord, tell it. Hamlet: No, you will reveal it. (I.v.118-21) This is the first glimpse of Hamlets ability and inclination to manipulate his behavior to achieve effect. Clearly Hamlet is not feeling cheerful at this moment, but if he lets the guards know the severity of the news, they might suspect its nature. Another instance of Hamlets behavior manipulation is his meeting with Ophelia while his uncle and Polonius are hiding behind a curtain. Hamlets affection for Ophelia has already been established in I.iii., and his complete rejection of her and what has transpired between them is clearly a hoax. Hamlet somehow suspects the eavesdroppers, just as he guesses that Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are sent by the King and Queen to question him and investigate the cause of his supposed madness in II.ii.

Hamlets actions in the play after meeting the ghost lead everyone except Horatio to believe he is crazy, yet that madness is continuously checked by an ever-present consciousness of action which never lets him lose control. For example, Hamlet questions his conduct in his soliloquy at the end of II.ii, but after careful consideration decides to go with his instinct and prove to himself without a doubt the Kings guilt before proceeding rashly. Even after the Kings guilt is proven with Horatio as witness, Hamlet again reflects and uses his better judgement in the soliloquy at the end of III.ii. before seeing his mother. He recognizes his passionate feelings, but tells himself to speak daggers to her, but use none, as his fathers ghost instructed.

Again, when in the Kings chamber, Hamlet could perform the murder, but decides not to in his better judgement to ensure that he doesnt go to heaven by dying while praying. As Hamlet tells Guildenstern in II.ii., I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw. This statement reveals out-right Hamlets intent to fool people with his odd behavior. This is after Polonius enlightened comment earlier in the same scene, though this be madness, yet there is method int. Bibliography hamlet.

Hamlet

Hamlet Madness Hamlet appears to be insane, after Poloniuss death, in act IV scene II. There are indications, though, that persuade me to think other wise. Certainly, Hamlet has plenty of reasons to be insane at this point. His day has been hectiche finally determined Claudius had killed his father, the chance to kill Claudius confronted him, he comes very close to convincing Gertrude that Claudius killed his father, he accidentally kills Polonius, and finally the ghost of his father visits him. These situations are enough to bring Hamlet to insanity, but he remains sharp and credible.

Hamlet is able to make smart remarks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, comparing then to sponges, “When he (Claudius) needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again,” (pg 98, 20). This is random and unexpected, as many of his actions, but the comparison makes sense; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern soak up all the kings favors, only to become dry again after they mop up the Kings mess (spying on Hamlet, and getting Poloniuss body). Later, with Claudius, Hamlet tells how lowly a king can be by saying, “A man (beggar) may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm,” (pg 99, 29). This also makes sense, and is not quite as random; when Hamlet confronts Claudius, and the king asks where Polonius is, Hamlet immediatly begins the comparison by telling Claudius that Polonuis is at supper (the worms are eating him for supper, and so on). This proves that Hamlet had some kind of planning for this degrading comment, and that his thoughts are not scattered and he is able to stay focused. There is a question of what being insane really is. Since it is agreeable that Ophelia was crazy, its possible to use her as a guide to make this argument valid.

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Hamlet and Ophelia both shared the trait of having calculated thoughts, Ophelias singing and Hamlets verbal attacks. They also shared calmness before their deaths. But was Hamlet spraying rude remarks to everyone before he died, as Ophelia had sung floating down the river? No, in-fact Hamlet was the opposite of what he was before. If he were crazy, like Ophelia, he would have remained hectic and random up until the time of (and after) the duel. Hamlet, though, was nothe even reasoned what death for him was, finishing his question of whether life was worth living for. Hamlet can truley be seen to be sane, and not.

The facts that Hamlet was smart and swift thinking, and in such a reversal of emotions (from after Polonius died) in the end, leads strongly to the opinion that Hamlet was not insane.

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