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Analysis Of Hamlet’s Behavior Through Minor Characters

1613 words - 7 pages

When such a task as murder must be committed, the line between avenging and revenging becomes unclear. This is seen in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The deceased king’s son, Hamlet, embarks on a quest to avenge the death of his father, who was murdered by his uncle. Throughout the play, and the progression of his quest, it is apparent that Hamlet is a complicated character. As the play progresses the reader is able to see that Hamlet has an inability to take action, portrayed through his failed attempts at murdering his uncle to avenge his father and his indecisive thoughts about suicide. The task of killing his uncle eventually becomes complicated because it becomes unclear whether Hamlet wishes to murder his uncle to avenge his father, or for his own revenge. Through the process of Hamlet’s quest he seems to go mad, his emotions changing rapidly and his feelings towards others in his life completely change. Through the lens of minor characters in the play, one can better see the changes in Hamlet’s behavior. When looking at Old Hamlet, Hamlet’s deceased father, it can be said that the thought of him fuels many of Hamlet’s decisions, thoughts, and actions because of his deep love for his father. On the contrary, one can say the opposite for his mother Gertrude. She seems to fuel the anger and disgust in Hamlet because of the decisions that she has made after the death of the king. One last emotion that Hamlet eventually loses is love, or infatuation. This is shown through Hamlet’s behavior towards Ophelia, the woman he was so infatuated with, but later wanted nothing to do with, as he is at the peak of his obsession. All of these changes in Hamlet’s emotions are important throughout the text as a whole, but can be difficult to grasp. But, through the analysis of minor characters such as Old Hamlet, Gertrude, and Ophelia, one’s understanding of the text and the progression of Hamlet’s behavior is deepened.

To better understand the foundation of Hamlet’s behaviors throughout the play, his father, Old Hamlet, has to be brought to attention. Hamlet had a deep love for his father that influenced many of his actions and decisions. After the murder of his father, Hamlet mourned longer than anyone else in his family, suggesting that he was the closest to his father. This love Hamlet feels, though it is never replaced, is pushed aside by the anger he feels towards his uncle Claudius. He has recently married Hamlet’s mother, not long after his father’s funeral. This angers Hamlet because he feels as if Claudius is being compared to Old Hamlet. The anger is obvious in Hamlet’s words, “So excellent a king; that was, to this,/Hyperion to a satyr..” (I.ii.139-140) Hamlet’s choice of the word Hyperion, a Titan often identified with the sun god, to describe his father exhibits the pride he has in his father, and the greatness that Old Hamlet represented. There is significant juxtaposition between the diction for his father and the diction for his uncle....

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