Hamlet Faith

A great chain of events in “Hamlet”, Shakespeare’s great revenge
tragedy, leads to Hamlets own demise. His necessity for subterfuge allows him to
inadvertently neglect is main objective, revenge. So much so that the ghost of
his dead father appears to stipulate Hamlets reserved behavior towards his
fathers revenge. “Do not forget. This visitation is to whet thy almost
blunted purpose,” (83-84) says the ghost in a motivational manner which
almost suggests a lack of faith on Hamlets behalf. Nevertheless, Hamlet is
overflowing with faith. Faith in god, faith in himself, even faith in his dead
father’s ghost a faith that will cost him his life. The untimely
“Death” of King Hamlet, Hamlets father, has sparked a disturbance in
the regularity of Denmark. Hamlets mother has waited “Not so much, not
two” (12) months after the Kings death to remarry and her new husband, who
coincidentally is King Hamlets brother, has swiftly embraced the throne. As the
plot unfolds, King Hamlets ghost appears to young Hamlet. He explains the
current dilemma and elicits a vengeful feeling from Hamlet, providing young
Hamlet with purpose, to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”.

(25) At first, Hamlet is weary of this appearance, but he compromises his
thoughts and put his faith in the ghost. In addition, the ghost even evokes a
vow of allegiance from Hamlet. However, at this juncture in time, Hamlet finds
himself in a state of disbelief. “And shall I couple hell?” (26)
speaks Hamlet once the ghost has departed, suggesting that Hamlet is very
doubtful. However, his doubts are subsequently invalidated at the performance of
‘The Murde! r of Gonzago’ where he requests a group of players to enact a
similar murder to that of King Hamlets. “I’ll have these players play
something like the murder of my father before mine uncle…. The plays the thing
wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King”. (55) Towards the end of the
play, Claudius hastily removes himself from the crowd, verifying Hamlets
suspicions. Now, Hamlet not only possesses every reason to believe the ghost,
but entrusts his faith in the ghost as well. However, Hamlets faith does not lie
solely in the ghost. He has another kind of faith faith in himself. Hamlets
belief that he can see through his revenge blatantly exemplifies his faith in
himself. In several instances, Hamlet requires himself to act mad “To put
an Antic disposition on” (30) if you will. His real life performance is so
convincing, that it arises concern in several characters such as Claudius,
Gertrude (Hamlets mother), and Polonius. Regardless of whether or not these
individuals involve themselves for their own purposes this dramatization
performed by Hamlet requires the highest degree of faith. Hamlet himself
professes “That ever he was born to set it right” (30) referring to
his very existence as a device, a device which will “Set it right”
conclusively demonstrating his faith in himself. Moving forward, in a subsequent
scene to Claudiuss’ dramatic exit, Hamlet is offered an opportunity to exact his
revenge upon Claudius, who is seeking atonement for his misdeeds. In one foolish
moment, Hamlet spares his uncles’ life. His belief is that if Claudius were to
die during confession, Claudiuss’ spirit would ascend to heaven and Hamlet will
not accept this. Hamlet figures he will wait until “He is drunk asleep, or
in his rage, or in th’incestuous pleasure of his bed, at game a-swearing, or
about some act that has no relish of salvation in’t, then trip him”. (80)
Hamlets obvious plan is to wait until Claudius sins, and then avenge his father.

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This move cost Hamlet his life. Hamlets previous decision was based upon his
belief in divine purposes. Since he was avenging his father for a decent, moral
purpose god will be on his side. Hamlet himself speaks, “My words fly up,
my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go”, (80)
indirectly suggesting that words or actions, combined with thought, will find
their way to heaven. Hamlets evocations point towards a belief in divinity. This
belief leads to the death of Polonius, and furthermore to the death of Hamlet.

In the next scene, Hamlets fate is sealed. Polonius, the “Wretched, rash,
intruding fool”, (81) was up to his old tricks, while Hamlet accidentally
slays Polonius mistaking Polonius for Claudius. Later on, Laertes returns to
avenge his father. “How came he dead?” (99) asked Laertes. Upon his
discovery of Hamlets actions, Laertes becomes embodied with grief. Claudius
quickly takes advantage of this by manipulating Laertes to duel Hamlet. Laertes,
under the influence of Claudius takes his fury one step further and poisons his
sword, a poison so lethal that one cut will end Hamlet. During their duel,
Laertes wounds Hamlet then “In scuffing”, they exchange swords. Hamlet
wounds Laertes and they are both poisoned. In the remaining moments, Hamlet
learns of the Poison, “The point envenome’d too! Then, venom, to thy
work.” (134) exclaims Hamlet as he strikes Claudius down, and they all
parish. Hamlet gets his revenge. But to do so, he must sacrifice the lives of
Gertrude, Polonius, Laertes and himself. He consequently entrusted his
“Faith” into both the right place, and the wrong place because got
what he wanted, however died during the process. Hamlet displays his faith in
himself when he was willing to sacrifice his own life to avenge his father. He
proves this by proclaiming his understanding, and compassionate feelings towards
Laertes plight, “For by the image of my cause I see the portraiture of
his”, (124) Hamlet says, suggesting he understood that he was destined to
die. We furthermore see that Hamlet does not lose faith in his fathers ghost.

The ghosts’ second visit demonstrates this when he inspires Hamlet to finally
finish what he has started. And as for faith in divinity, Hamlet himself remarks
that a divine power controls our purposes when he says, “There’s a divinity
that shapes our ends” (121)


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