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Analysis Of Prince Hamlet's Character In William Shakespeare's Play

1854 words - 7 pages

Analysis of Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play

Shakespeare's Hamlet is at the outset a typical revenge play. However,
it is possible to see Prince Hamlet as a more complex character as he
can be seen as various combinations of a weak revenger, a tragic hero
and a political misfit. In order to fully understand the world in
which Hamlet finds himself, it is necessary to examine all three of
these roles and either dismiss them or justify Hamlet's behavior as a
revenger.

As a tragic hero, Hamlet displays many typical qualities of a
traditional hero in a Elizabethan revenge tragedy.

Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark and therefore belongs to a social
elite. Hamlet can be described as being too noble to take revenge. As
a very well educated scholar of Wittenberg University in Sweden he has
to think extensively before taking revenge. He feels the need to
question revenge yet he is reluctant to do so rashly without
considerable thought "thus conscience does make cowards of us all". We
see that this happens in the first few moments of the play when Hamlet
doubts the ghost is his father and he needs further prompting and
reassurance throughout the play "So art thou to revenge, when thou
shalt hear". Hamlet constantly rationalises and stops himself from
acting with any degree of passion. This could be seen either as a
weakness or as a personal strength. Hamlet can and is frequently
described, as a man with a tragic flaw, this being that his tendency
to contemplate his actions is not a positive quality but that instead
this brings about his downfall. Hamlet appears to many critics to be
too much of an intellectual to play the role as a typical revenger "O
what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous that this
player here, but in a fiction, in a dream of passion". Hamlet also
seems to be a victim of bad luck. The accidental killing of Polonius
in this mother's bedroom as well as the interception of Hamlet's ship
by pirates and his subsequent return to Denmark are two such examples.
However this bad luck could also be described as the tragedy of fate
depending on ones personal view.

Shakespeare's own view was that fate existed and that the decisions
that Hamlet makes during the play make little difference to the final
outcome. It seems that as Hamlet is unable to kill Claudius while he
has the chance. Early in the play his fate must be that he dies as a
consequence. Hamlet himself becomes fatalistic, on his return from
exile. "-Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to
dust the dust is earth". He has either lost heart totally or he has
realised that, in order to take any sort of revenge on his uncle, he
might actually have to die himself. Strangely in keeping with this his
giving up on life his highly self critical and analytical soliloquies
stop during...

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