Character of Hamlet
"Wer gar zu viel bedenkt wird wenig leisten"
" He who reflects too much will accomplish little"
It is impossible to attain completeness in the assessment of any one's
character and more so in the case of Hamlet's, for its note are
complex and mysterious. But on rigorous study, Hamlet's character can
be described though partly but adequately by the above quote.
'Hamlet' is the most famous, the most popular play in the English
language. But to quote T.S.Eliot -"So far from being Shakespeare's
masterpiece, the play is most certainly an artistic failureâ€¦. And
probably more people have thought Hamlet a work of art because they
found it interesting, than have found it interesting because it is a
work of art. It is the "Mona Lisa " of literature."
"The grounds of Hamlet's failure are not immediately
obvious."T.S.Eliot in his essay "Hamlet and His Problems", says this
and after his analysis he concludes that in order to understand Hamlet
- the play and the character - we need to understand things, which
Shakespeare did not understand himself. A similar view is aired by
A.C.Bradley who says that the character of Hamlet as one can
understand from the play cannot answer several questions which pertain
to the logic and rationality of Hamlet's deeds like his idea to
pretend madness and in order to get a reasonable answer one must try
history where we find the story of Amleth,the Prince of Denmark which
inspired Shakespeare to write this "Mona Lisa " of literature.
The story of Amleth is a story, which involved just the revenge of a
son avenging his father's murder. In this story, Amleth 's uncle is
the usurper and he kills Amleth's father and also wishes to kill
Amleth to establish his unquestioned authority. Here Amleth directly
knew that his uncle was guilty quite in contrast to Hamlet's case and
Amleth's life was in great danger also in contrast to Hamlet's as his
uncle Claudius was fond of his nephew. He takes good care of him and
calls him his "son" as well.
There is no great apparent danger to Hamlet's life from Claudius until
he is aware that Hamlet knows of his devilish act of murdering the
King Hamlet. In the case of Amleth he had every reason to act as if he
were mad because that was necessary to him to accomplish his "duty" of
avenging his father's murder. It is hard to understand why Hamlet
pretends madness when he could have done what he had to with great
ease and no one would have objected to Claudius' dethronement as
Claudius was not popular with his people, which is quite evident from
the fact that Laertes could raise a public revolt against the king so
boldly. In Amleth's case it was completely different, his uncle had
complete support in the coup. And A.C.Bradley further observes that
Shakespeare was not properly able to...