Hamlet by William Shakespeare is one of the world’s most revered literature. The main character, Hamlet, is arguably one of the most intriguing characters the playwright ever developed. Hamlet is daring, philosophical, mentally unstable at times, and clever. Throughout the play though, these characteristics change and/or diminish as Hamlet is put through a plethora of unfortunate events. His father is murdered by Claudius, his mother soon after marries Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern betray him, and his girlfriend most likely commits suicide. While Hamlet is incredibly philosophical, indecisive, and full of resentment in the beginning of the play, he becomes violent, instinctive, caring and sympathetic towards the end of the play.
People all around the world are familiar with the “To be or not to be” speech. Although some might not realize it is a speech by Hamlet, they do realize how powerful those lines are. Those lines show the mark of a great philosopher, and this is precisely what Hamlet is. Because Hamlet is such a fantastic philosopher at the start of the play, it leads him to what some believe is his downfall. The fact that perhaps he thinks too much on the people and incidents surrounding him is really what pulls him down. He spends an excessive amount of his day thinking about every aspect of every event.
Hamlet sees a ghost of his father and learns that he was killed by his own brother, Claudius. This is when Hamlet falls into an ocean of thought. The philosopher devises ways to unmask his step father to his mother and Denmark and obtain justice and revenge for his father’s smeared death.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Shakespeare, 40). Hamlet realizes what is considered good and bad are only norms set by society and nothing more. Also, thinking too much about something will only make it seem good or bad and never get someone to act. The real question that most likely arises to Hamlet is if his action is right and justified. To him, it certainly is but his thoughts stymie his revenge.
Although Hamlet is still quick-witted towards the end of the play and near his death, he puts his actions before his words. This enables him to fulfill what he was planning at the beginning, making sure his father was avenged. For a character like Hamlet, it would be fairly difficult to keep his great ability to ponder and at the same time, become aggressive and violent. Therefore, he had to sacrifice one to have the other, and he picked the latter so he can accomplish what he desires.
“My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth” (Shakespeare, 86). When Hamlet makes this promise to himself, he also sets a new tone for the story. Hamlet’s character drastically changes as well. He ensures the audience that he will have no mercy when it comes to fulfilling his now innate desire to kill and unmask Claudius for the corrupt man he is. To him, if a thought is out of focus and merciful, it is wrong and worthless.