.. Three, there are signs there that Ophelia is not unlikely to lose her mind. (Go here for that answer). I will confine myself here to what Ophelia’s songs can tell us about her state of mind and to what Ophelia’s madness adds to our understanding of madness in the play. We are told that Ophelia is mad by the unnamed gentleman at the opening of scene five.

He says she speaks much of her father and then: Her speech is nothing, Yet the unshapd use of it doth move hearers to collection. They yawn at it, And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts.. (IV.v.7-10) This means Ophelia’s speech is meaningless, but this chaotic state makes those who hear it try to make sense of it. They are amazed by her speech and make the words fit their own interpretation. This statement seems to be crucial to understanding how madness is presented in this play.

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When Hamlet and Ophelia are thought to be insane, their observers try to interpret the reasons for their insanity. The reasons they come up with always reflect the preoccupations of the observers. In the case of Hamlet, Claudius thinks he has a hidden secret (III.i.158) since he himself has a hidden secret. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern think that Hamlet’s ambition is the cause of his madness since they themselves are ambitious. Similarly with Ophelia, Laertes thinks she is trying to tell him to take revenge for her father (IV.v.168), a course he has already decided on. In Hamlet, madness is a mirror. Our interpretations of Ophelia’s madness are therefore put under question by the play.

Are we seeing what is really there or are we projecting our own expectations onto her? Nonetheless, I set the question, so I ought to attempt to answer it. I am only going to deal with her songs as they are probably the most striking and interpretable aspect of her madness. Ophelia sings three songs to the Queen in IV.v., and two more later in the scene after her brother’s arrival. The first (How should I your true love know..) is about an absent lover. The second (which might be a continuation of the first) begins He is dead and gone lady.

The third Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day is the story of how a young girl is duped into sleeping with a man who promises to marry her and doesn’t. Applying the first two songs to Ophelia’s history doesn’t take much ingenuity. She has an absent lover and a dead dad. The third, more bawdy, song is a little trickier. Hamlet has not been unfaithful to Ophelia, in fact the opposite is more true.

Yes, he’s unpleasant to her, but she’s the one who participates in a plot to trick the other. It is possible that Ophelia’s madness transposes the sexes of the characters and that the song is about her infidelity. It is also possible that Ophelia is mourning her own virginity. Or that her delirium releases the sexuality which has till this point been pent up by the demands of propriety and decorum. We don’t know enough to make a definite choice.

The next song, after Ophelia hands out the flowers, is apparently part of a popular series of Bonny Robin songs which were about lovers and unfaithfulness. The final song (And will a not come again) is about the death of an older man. It is not implausible, on the basis of these five songs, to assume that Ophelia’s madness was caused by the death of her father, her loss of Hamlet and her guilt about her infidelity to him. 6. What does the Queen’s speech about Ophelia’s drowning suggest about her madness and the reasons her death? One aspect of this speech may seem a little bizarre.

If the Queen knows all this, how come she was unable to save Ophelia? There are at least three possible explanations. First, the Queen doesn’t know all this. She knows that Ophelia has drowned but wants to make it sound nice in order to break the news gently to Laertes, so she adds all the stuff about flowers and singing. Second, the Queen knows that Ophelia didn’t drown like this, but rather committed suicide, as the gravediggers and the priest are to suggest in Act Five. She doesn’t want to tell Laertes this and also wants Ophelia to receive a Christian burial rather than be treated as a suicide.

Or, third, Shakespeare intended that the Queen to be acting as a storyteller here rather than as herself. She steps out of role for a minute to relate things that couldn’t be shown on the Elizabethan stage. Any of these are acceptable answers to this puzzle. I tend to think the third explanation is best. Ophelia is (sort of) killed by a willow tree, also known as a weeping willow. Therefore, the line suggests that Ophelia died of grief.

Note that the brook is described as a weeping brook. As she floats downstream, Ophelia is described as like a creature native and indued / Unto that element. That is, like a creature that belongs in the water. I would say that this is not only about her passivity in the water, but also because of her excessive grief. When Laertes says that she has had too much of, he probably means that she has had too much grief, rather than that her lungs are full of water. Another thing to note are the plants.

Ophelia is associated with flowers throughout the play. She’s an infant of the spring in I.ii. Laertes calls her a rose of May in IV.v. where she also hands out flowers to the court. At her funeral, Laertes imagines violets springing from her grave. Ophelia may be viewed as flower-like because of her innocence, beauty, youth and fragility.

Here, though, the flowers are weeds: crow-flowers, nettles, long-purples and daisies. Perhaps a symbol of decline or of her corruption by the Danish court. Structure 1. A past exam question reads: ‘The action of the play begins to break down after act three’. Discuss. Why might you agree on the basis of act four? Points one might include in this answer are: Short Scenes: Most of the play is made up of long, set-piece scenes, centred around a particular character.

In Act Four, we get seven brief scenes. is likely to make the audience uneasy and feel that the action is moving around very swiftly. Hamlet’s Absence: Obviously Hamlet is the main character in the play, but for the second half of the Act, he’s gone away. We have lost the main focus of the action. Subplots: Again, most of the action so far has been directly related to Hamlet’s quest. In this act, that quest is postponed and new plot lines centred around Laertes and Ophelia are introduced. Minor Characters: Similarly, six new characters suddenly appear: the Captain and Fortinbras, the gentleman, the messenger, the attendant and the sailor. Characters such as Horatio, Ophelia and Laertes, who have had relatively minor roles until now, are suddenly given scenes in which they are centre stage.

Shakespeare seems to want to increase the pace of the play, to give an indication that the danger to the central characters has increased. He also wants to reintroduce Fortinbras and let us see him in person so that we are not too surprised by his arrival at the end. He also wants to begin to explore revenge more widely through the introduction of Laertes’ mission and to begin preparation for the final catastrophe. Themes and Imagery 1. Where is disease imagery used in this act? Find FOUR examples.

How is the meaning of this imagery made explicit? There are quite a number of disease images in this act. Perhaps this reflects the spread of corruption and the intensification of the action. They include: Diseases desperate grown / By desperate appliance are relieved, / Or not at all. (Claudius, IV.iii) ..like the hectic in my blood he rages, / And thou must me. (Claudius, IV.iii) This is th’impostume of much wealth and peace.

(Hamlet, IV.iv) To my sick soul, as sin’s true nature is.. (Gertrude, IV.v) ..wants not buzzers to infect his ear / With pestilent speeches.. (Claudius, IV.v) It warms the very sickness in my heart.. (Laertes, IV.vii) But to the quick of th’ulcer.. (Claudius, IV.vii) I’ll touch my point / With this contagion.. (Laertes, IV.vii) The Queen’s line, To my sick soul, as sin’s true nature is makes it very clear that the disease imagery in the play is an image of sinfulness. Often, it particularly refers to treachery, and here, Laertes’ line, It warms the very sickness in my heart, is very useful. 2.

What do scenes five and seven suggest about what commitment to taking revenge does to people? Laertes used to be a noble youth (V.i.). On his return from France, he has turned into a maniac. He is willing to dare damnation and he will cast aside all sense of tradition and loyalty to the king. He is happy to kill Claudius in cold blood on the basis of rumours. Lastly, Laertes is very willing to use treacherous means to kill Hamlet. Revenge is presented very ironically in the play.

Prompted by the demands of honour and loyalty, revengers become treacherous and dishonourable. It is Laertes’ single-minded devotion to his task that leads him to abandon all sense of morality and to his destruction. 3. Nonetheless, in what ways might Hamlet appear to be (morally) better than (a) Fortinbras and (b) Laertes? (a) Act Four, scene four reintroduces Fortinbras to the audience. He is on his way to the borders of Poland to fight over a little patch of ground that has no economic worth. This is likely to lead to the deaths of two thousand men. In his soliloquy which follows, Hamlet reflects (rightly) that he has got considerably better reasons to go to war and is only risking his own life.

He envies Fortinbras’ daring, but despises his callous sacrifice of the soldiers for a trick of fame. (b) Hamlet, unlike Laertes, is not willing to daredamnation in the pursuit of his revenge. Hamlet is terrified of damnation and only manages to kill Claudius when he is satisfied that it is perfect conscience (V.ii). He also commits his revenge publicly in full view of the court, rather than trying to arrange an accident for his enemy. Theater Essays.


Hamlet essay
Topic #1
Period Four
Shakespeares mastery of literary arts produced a complex and realistic protagonist in the tragic play of Hamlet. Hamlet has arguably come to be known as Shakespeares most outstanding tragic hero. The play Hamlet explores the concept of infectious circumstances destroying an innocent human spirit, all the while keeping in close alignment with Aristotles depiction of a tragedy.

The great thinker, Aristotle, has created his own rules of a tragedy and tragic hero. As defined by him, a proper tragic hero must be admirable and noble, yet destined to a heroic death. There should be a reversal (change of one state of affairs to the exact opposite), and a recognition (change from ignorance to knowledge).1 Hamlet fulfilled each of these prerequisites.
First, Shakespeare introduced Hamlets character as an innocent and intelligent scholar. He was somewhat nave and inexperienced with lifes unfortunate occurrences, yet these same characteristics made him immediately likable. His intelligence and sensitivity to his fathers death made him noble, but the best evidence of his admiralty is his apparent unwillingness to commit murder. Many scholars raise the question, Why does Hamlet delay?2 While this question will never be settled with a concrete answer, it is believed by some that it is due to his morals. After the initial instinct to seek revenge, Hamlets good nature rejected the thought of committing murder. It is because of this that he procrastinates and hesitates killing Claudius. Here there is a turning point and marker of Aristotles point of reversal. Hamlets innocence is lost, and he is committed to seeking revenge and killing Claudius. This leaves him vulnerable to the evil that is slowly taking over his soul. This infectious circumstance contaminates Hamlets beautiful spirit. He recognizes this change in his first soliloquy when he admits that his life and soul is decaying through a metaphorical garden of his life that is, an unweeded garden/ that grows in nature. (I, ii, 134-135)
This internal conflict causes confusion within Hamlet, and he plays mad to buy time and sort out his thoughts. The audience knows that despite his hesitations, Hamlet still wants to seek revenge. This is revealed in his second soliloquy when Hamlet states, A damnd defeat was made. Am I a coward. (II, ii, 571). He criticizes his own cowardice for not swiftly taking his revenge against Claudius. Hamlet begins his first stages of recognition that he must be true to himself and his father and kill the king.

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Secondly, Aristotle characterizes a tragedy by its possession of a beginning, middle, and end. These components are clearly defined as follows. The beginning takes off as Hamlet sees his fathers ghost, and instinctively vows revenge on his fathers death. The middle is market by Hamlets hesitation and plans to reassure himself that Claudius was in fact guilty, and lastly, the end is when Hamlet finally knows for sure and decides to wait no longer and carry out the kings murder. Rule by rule, Shakespeare masters every component of a true tragedy.

Each event and turning point has taken over Hamlets life and his sole purpose becomes the vengeances he seeks. He begins to question his life and worth. His soul slowly decays because of the sorrow and challenges that face him. When Hamlets spirit is completely submerged in his suffering and grief, he concludes that this unfortunate destiny is a part of living. It is through this desperate and depressed state of mind that the infamous melancholy speech is made, To be or not to be, that is the question;/ whether tis nobler in the mind/ to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/ or to take arms against the sea of troubles and by opposing/ end them. (III, I, 56-60).

Our tragic hero is then eventually sent off to fulfill his destined heroic death. When he finally murders Claudius, his mission has been completed and his life is then allowed to end. As he is dying, he nobly asks his friend Horatio to clear his wounded name. He longs to be remembered as the honorable son of King Hamlet, who merely sought the justice of his fathers murder. No less is expected of the tragic hero, and the poignant words of Horatio served Hamlet best when he said, Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight sweet prince. (V, ii, 370). This ensures that Hamlets name will be cleared by way of his best friend, who will live on to tell the story of the young Hamlet whose innocent soul was eaten away by the contaminated and ruined kingdom.
1 Quotes credited to Aristotle and Shakespeare (works cited #1)
2 Question quoted from the Shakespearean Imagination (works cited #2)


Hamlet THESIS: In the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. the theme of this play is revenge. William Shakespeare was born in April, 1564 in Stratford, Warwickshire, about 100 miles northwest of London. According to the records of Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church, he was baptized on April 26. Since it was customary to baptize infants within days of birth, and since Shakespeare died 52 years later on April 23, and–most significantly–since April 23 is St. George’s day, the patron saint of England, it has become traditional to assign the birth day of England’s most famous poet to April 23. Shakespeare’s parents were John and Mary Shakespeare, who lived in Henley Street, Stratford.

John, the son of Richard Shakespeare, was a whittawer (a maker, worker and seller of leather goods such as purses, belts and gloves) and a dealer in agricultural commodities. He was a solid, middle class citizen at the time of William’s birth, and a man on the rise. He served in Stratford government successively as a member of the Council (1557), constable (1558), chamberlain (1561), alderman (1565) and finally high bailiff (1568)–the equivalent of town mayor. About 1577 John Shakespeare’s fortunes began to decline for unknown reasons. There are records of debts. In 1586 he was replaced as alderman for slacking responsibilities, and in 1592 was reprimanded for not coming to church for fear of process of debt.

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Mary, the daughter of Robert Arden, had in all eight children with John Shakespeare. William was the third child and the first son. Shakespeare attended the Stratford grammar school now known as The Kings New School. On November 28, 1582, the Bishop of Worcester issued the marriage bond for William Shagspere and Ann Hathaway of Stratford. On May 26, 1583, their first daughter Susanna was baptized. Two years later, twins were born, named Hamnet and Judith, named after Hamnet and Judith Sadler, apparently lifetime friends to Shakespeare.

Throughout his life, William Shakespeare has written many works that illustrated society and the psychological aspects of it. Examples of his works include Loves Labours Lost (1593), King John (1596) and Romeo Juliet (1595). Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 and was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church April 25. On the slab over his grave appear the words: GOOD FREND FOR JESUS SAKE FORBEARE, TO DIGG THE DUST ENCLOASED HEARE. BLESTE BE Ye MAN Yt SPARES THES STONES, AND URST BE HE Yt MOVES MY BONES.

This thesis statement is appealing because when I read the play it made me think about how people always use revenge for motivation to achieve their goals. Such as Hamlet when he used revenge to avenge his fathers death. I feel that revenge is a great motivation tool because for those people who feel that they need to avenge something, it can be a very self satisfying that they had fought for what was once lost. Hamlet is often called an Elizabethan revenge play. All the action of Hamlet is based on the one task the ghost sets the prince: to avenge his father’s murder.

This powerful demand is countered in Hamlet’s mind by three questions: Is revenge a good or an evil act? Is Claudius truly guilty and so to be punished? Is it Hamlet’s responsibility to punish him? Throughout the play Shakespeare raises questions about whether justice is to be left to the state or taken into one’s own hands, and about whether it is possible, in a cunning and deceitful world, to tell the good man from the criminal. These questions are focused on Hamlet, who must decide whether to avenge his father or not, and if so, how. They are reflected in the parallel stories of Fortinbras and Laertes, who also have obligations of revenge to fulfill. The Serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown (I, v) The ghost of Hamlet’s father speaks these lines in explaining to Hamlet that Claudius murdered him, and that Hamlet must avenge his father’s death. These lines set the stage for the basic plot in the play.

To be, or not to be,–that is the question:–Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles .. (III, i) The beginning of the most famous soliloquy in the play, and probably in the English language. Hamlet meditates on life’s most basic philosophical dilemma, namely life and whether it is worth living. Is it nobler to accept life’s hardships quietly, or is death preferable? In the story Laertess father also dies and decides to avenge his fathers death right away unlike Hamlet who waits until the end. According to Joel Sommer Littauer Hamlet swears revenge.

But rather than swoop instantly to that revenge, Hamlet pretends to be insane in order to mask an investigation of the accusation brought by his father’s ghost. Why Hamlet puts on this antic disposition and delays in killing Claudius is the central question of the play. But Hamlet did not swear to his dead father that he, detective-like, would investigate. Hamlet swore revenge. And he has more than enough motivation to exact revenge. Hamlet investigates his fathers murder by acting all disassociated.

The reasons for Hamlet’s obsession with exacting revenge against Claudius are fairly straightforward. The ghost of Hamlet Sr. informed Hamlet that Claudius killed Hamlet Sr. and thus usurped him from his throne. In doing so, he emasculated Hamlet by robbing him of his central role model of masculinity, namely his father.

He also committed the moral and political sin of regicide, and the familial sin of killing his brother and subsequently sleeping with his wife. Claudius also deprived Hamlet of his rightful kingship, since Hamlet was second in line after Hamlet Sr. In addition, Hamlet now knows that his love of his mother is corrupted since she is affectionate towards his emasculating enemy. ( Elliot, 22) Elliot was saying that Hamlets father returned to inform him that Claudius killed him. Hamlet then realized that Claudius has not only killed his father, he denied him of being king. In the play, Hamlet by William Shakespeare, I believe that the theme of this play is revenge.

Throughout the story, Hamlet is contemplating about revenge (against whom? and why?). Hamlet wasnt sure if he found it worth while risking his own life to avenge his fathers .He challenged Claudius to fight. He kills him, yet Hamlet dies because of poison that was on Laertes sword before he fought Claudius. Revenge isnt worth killing anyone like Hamlet did. Its like a game, if you are defeated by an opponent, you will always remember what had happened so you can be better prepared the next time you face them .

But in life I dont think its right to go out and kill someone like Hamlet did or Laertes. Say you do kill someone to avenge a persons death. Where does that take you? It doesnt take you anywhere. Mostly likely you will end up in jail for a long time. People always say revenge is sweet but there are many different ways of handling situations such as Hamlet.



Shakespeares characterization of Hamlet changes through the course of the play. It is most evident in an examination of his soliloquies. The progression of Hamlet is from an innocent person to a murderous madman.

In Act II, Hamlet is blaming himself for many problems. He is angry with himself because he has done nothing with his plan to kill Claudius. It also bothers Hamlet he is not as emotional as the actor on the stage, who is portraying him. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!/Is it not monstrous that this player here,/But in fiction, in a dream of passion,/Could force his soul so to his own conceit/That from her working all his visage wannd,/Tears in his eyes, distraction ins aspect,/A broken voice, and his whole function suiting. With forms to his conceit?
In this soliloquy, he is questioning how other people become emotional. He asks what Hecuba means to the mere actor on stage, who cried because of her. He wonders what he would do, had the actor had the same reasons to cry as Hamlet had. He says:
Whats Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, /that he should weep for her?/What would he do,/Had he the motive and the cue for passion that I have?
He answers his own questions. He says that the actor would drown the stage with tears and cleave the general ear with horrid speech. He does not talk about his mother at all in this soliloquy. He is, however, still disgusted by what has just happened. He hates Claudius and talks about him more in this soliloquy. He says:
I should have fatted all the region kites/With this slaves offal: bloody, bawdy villain!/Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
Towards the end of the play, he comes up with yet another plan to find out for sure if Claudius indeed murdered his father. He stops assaulting himself and starts to talk more declaratively about his new plan.

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Even at the very start of Hamlets soliloquy in Act III, it is evident that he is in a more thoughtful mood.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:/Whether tis 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?
These are Hamlets well-known lines. He is not attacking himself in this soliloquy; rather he is contemplating an issue. He is talking about mankind as a whole, as opposed to himself personally.
He compares death to sleep, and argues that man does not know what dreams he will see during death. He argues that the reason people dont commit suicide, is because they dont know what comes after death:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come/When we have shuffled off this mortal coil/Must give us pause: theres the respect/That makes calamity of so long life
By the fourth soliloquy in Act IV, Hamlet starts to wonder again why he hasnt yet acted and avenged his fathers murder. He has just heard that Fortinbras is about to fight over a worthless piece of land, but he cant even do anything even if his uncle killed his father and stained his mother. He says:
Witness this army of such mass and charge/Led by a delicate and tender prince,/Whose spirit with divine ambition puffd/makes mouths at the invisible event,/Exposing what is mortal and unsure/To all that fortune, death and danger dare,/Even for an egg-shell.
In this soliloquy, however, he is not attacking himself. He is encouraging himself to act. His personality has changed since the second soliloquy. He implies that one is not a man without honor.

Rightly to be great/Is not to stir without great argument,/But greatly to find quarrel in a straw/When honours at the stake.
By the end of this soliloquy, he is giving himself the final words of encouragement. He says let [His] thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! He ends by saying, making it seem as if he will get up right at that moment and go off to kill the king.
These three soliloquies of Hamlet, in Act II, III, and IV, emphasize a successive change that is seen in Hamlet. The change in his tone of voice makes this change more audible to the listeners ears. His evolution thus, is shown by these three of Hamlets soliloquies.


Hamlet The story of Hamlet comes from a long line of revenge tragedies in which a character attempts to avenge the murder of a family member. Just as revenge is present in literature, it is also present in todays society. It is always there, lurking in the darkness of the human mind, watching, waiting for an opportunity to lash out at the surrounding world. Shakespeare suggests in Hamlet that revenge is a debilitating force, and the pursuit of it can infect the most noble of all souls. Once tainted by this infectious disease, no weak minded individual can be cured of it.

Revenge is an unavoidable power moving the mind closer towards destruction. In order for revenge to truly corrupt Hamlet, he had to be an innocent and noble character from the onset of the play. Without this innocence and respected status, Hamlet would have nothing to lose, revenge would have no affect on him because the evil would already exist. There has to be a shift from good to evil in order for Hamlet to be a tragedy, and it is the darkness of revenge that provides this shift. It is from Ophelia that a reader gets their description of Hamlets character before it was corrupted.

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She reveals everything about Hamlet that would make him a noble man. It is in their first meeting in the play, that Ophelia states, “O, what a noble mind is here oer-thrown! The courtiers, soldiers, scholars, eye, tongue, sword; th expectancy and rose of the fair state, the glass of fashion and the mould of form, th observd of all observers” (III.I.142-146). First of all, she herself states that he has a noble mind. Then Ophelia comments on how he can relate to everyone in some small way. This ability makes Hamlet the pride of Denmark, and the most loved. He is also considered to be a model for all men, thus meaning that people admire him and look to him for guidance.

One can base the entire notion of Hamlets nobility on this one quote. What else does a person need in order to be considered noble? He is admired, he is loved, and he is a role model, thus Hamlet is noble. The nobility of Hamlet was corrupted by the power of revenge. Hamlet , although saddened by his fathers death and the marriage of Claudius and Gertrude, was not consumed by it. These were in no way the sources of his diseased soul, rather it was the desire for murderous revenge that slowly turned his heart black.

The deterioration of his righteous mind began when he first learned of his fathers foul murder and and vows swift revenge. “Hold, hold, my heart; and you, my sinews, grow not instant old, but bear me stiffly up” (Shakespeare I.v.93-94). Hamlet not only vows revenge, but he hands his mind, soul, and everything he holds dear over to it. He is no longer loyal to his father, but to revenge alone. It is at this exact moment that Hamlet and all his actions become truly dark; revenge has begun to consume him. The destructive force that revenge possesses comes from its consummation. Once an individual stands in the light of revenge, there is no turning back; revenge is unavoidable.

It is impossible to commit a crime or ponder the thought and not be affected by it in some way. Hamlet can try and justify his cause with the belief, “An eye for an eye,” but it is no use. Murdering his uncle is not his decision nor his duty. There is no such thing as an appropriate sin, or”sinning elegantly”. All sins are immoral no matter what the intention.

Hamlet is too intent on the damning of Claudius soul. “Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven, and that his sould may be as damnd and black as hell, whereto it goes” (Shakespeare III.iii. 93-95). Just because Hamlets father was murdered does not mean that he has the right to murder Claudius, much less damn him in the process. It is Hamlets decision to damn Claudius, that exposes the ultimate degredation and destruction that revenge has brought upon Hamlets soul.

Revenge is negative, but the affects that revenge produces can be far worse. In the case of Hamlet, the results were catastrophic. The first victim was the unsuspecting Polonius. The death of Polonius and young Hamlets desire for insatiable need for revenge sparked a chain reaction that soon engulfed everything and everyone around the young prince. Hamlets relentless pursuit not only caused the death of many people, it triggered the downfall of an entire kingdom.

Hamlet warns that revenge is a force not meant to be tampered with. The struggle to achieve revenge, will not relieve a person of pain, it will only cause more. In writing Hamlet, Shakespeare demonstrates that revenge is not the answer, and that it in the end solves nothing. By doing this, Shakespeare leaves the audience with the moral dilema of how to live there own lives. If the path that Hamlet chose was unfulfilled, then what path is the audience supposed to take? Forgiveness. The act of forgiveness is the only path to true happiness and salvation, not only because it spares the soul of the individual affected by the crime, but also because it delivers the offender from eternal damnation.


In Shakespear’s Hamlet, the reader gets to know what has been called the
“two Hamlets in the play,” the first who is considered to be the
sensitive intellectual who is able to express himself through poetry and who
comes across as being dedicated to truth. The other, barbaric side of Hamlet who
treats Ophelia so cruelly with no empathy, slays Polonius and speaks of dragging
his guts into another room, and who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their
deaths without any remorse. However, most interpreters of Hamlet see him as a
“tragic hero” with a clear and sacred obligation to kill Claudius but
due to his being a victim of great external difficulties, is unable to do so
right away. Shakespeare purposely makes Hamlet out to be a procrastinator for
one very important reason, if Hamlet would have quickly pursued this revenge,
Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes, and of course
Hamlet himself would have survived and Shakespeare would not have achieved
tragedy in this play. There are many explanations for Hamlet’s long delay, some
of which include the physical act of being unable to commit the murder and what
held him back, the fear of what would happen, the moral dilemma of taking the
life of his uncle, his disbelief in the ghost, and his fascination with death.

The most important reason being that which physically held him back from
committing the act. If Hamlet were to carry out what the Ghost told him and
carried out immediate revenge, how would Hamlet have been able to convince the
people that he justifiably executed an act of revenge. Another reason Hamlet
procrastinates is that his psychological feelings confuse his ability to
“confront his destiny.” Hamlet’s dilemma has little to do with what
decisions he should take, but rather whether he will be able to make any
decisions at all. Perhaps due to his excessive melancholy Hamlet became morally
weakened and therefor lost his desire for revenge. As Hamlet states “my
weakness and my melancholy”(II.ii.630) and his “wild and whirling
words”(I.v.133) his mood shifts from deep depression to elation, which
might explain his indecisiveness throughout the play. Hamlet is a man of talk.

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He is imply unable to carry out actions which he wants to. In his own words,
“. . .the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of
thought.”(III.i.84-85) Here it becomes clear that when Hamlet thinks he has
finally made a decision, thinking about it causes him to change his mind or
simply put it off. The one time Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius and
achieve his revenge is when Claudius is confessing his sins. Here, Hamlet does
not kill him because if Claudius were to die right then, he would have gone to
heaven. Something which Hamlet does not want to see happen. Of course, there are
also moral roadblocks which prevent Hamlet from immediately acting upon the
Ghost’s orders. According to Goethe’s interpretation of Hamlet, he is
“lovely, pure, and moral nature, without the strength of nerve which forms
a hero.” However, Goethe’s compatriot, Schleger sees Hamlet having “no
firm belief either in himself or in anything else, in the resolutions which he
so often embraces and always leaves unexecuted, his weakness is too apparent.

His far fetched scruples are often mere pretexts to cover his want of
determination. . ..” Hamlet becomes the “creature of mere
mediation” because of his overbalanced cognition. Hamlet always finds a way
out of what he was about to do because he ends up thinking about it for too
long. This leads him being known as a character whom is full of purpose, but
lacks the quality required to accomplish that purpose. Most of these issues are
simply due to Hamlet’s over analyzation of morals. When Hamlet sees how promptly
Pyrrhus acted towards the death of his father in scene II, he promptly denounces
himself as a coward and cries out for vengeance: Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! O,
vengeance!(II.ii.608-610) it is at this point where Hamlet reveals his plan to
“catch the conscience of the King.” Again, however, even though he
vows to sweep to his revenge, weeks pass and he has not even made an attempt.

Perhaps it is because of Hamlet’s disbelief in the honesty of the Ghost which
causes such hesitation in Hamlet’s actions. Hamlet is called upon to execute
private vengeance, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, even though this is
contrary to all Christian teachings. Hamlet therefor, gets erratic because he


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