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Hamlet: A True King Essay

1374 words - 6 pages

The tale of a child growing up to take the place of his father has been told and retold many times. In many of these stories, the child would grow up to gain the traits of his father, allowing him to fulfill the unfinished goals left to him. In Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet, the titular character would, if he had been given the chance, taken his rightful place on the throne and “prov’d most royal”. Shakespeare initially presents the character as scholarly and learned, but hesitant to act, however as the play progresses, his character becomes more mature and more willing to act beyond his words, overcoming the personal feelings, his morals and beliefs, that hold him back from the throne.
When Hamlet is first presented, he is described as intelligent and scholarly, wishing to return to his studies at university at the first news of his father’s death. His mother wishes against this, whom he obeys. “Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet./I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg”(I,ii,118-19). Hamlet is loyal to his family, even though he is upset with his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius so soon after King Hamlet’s death. These character traits show that Hamlet does have some makings of a “proper”, idealistic king - loyalty, intellect and able to hide, to an extent, some of his displeasure. However, he was not ready to take the throne at the time of King Hamlet’s death. Instead, the apparently less deserving of the two, Claudius, takes the throne.

When he meets the ghost of King Hamlet and the details of his father’s murder, Hamlet is at first shocked, but then doubtful of the words of this spirit. He vows revenge for his father, but immediately backtracks on it, believing that the ghost may be lying to him, an apparition of the devil. “As he is very potent with such spirits,/Abuses me to damn me./I'll have grounds/More relative than this.” (II, ii, 589-91) This indecision is the major factor that prevents him from being king. However his hesitation, stemmed from his need to know everything before acting, is what allows him to grow as a person. Hamlet’s indecision can be argued as an extension of one of his ability and need to analyze, it holds him back from being reckless and blindly accusing the potentially innocent Claudius. This restraint is expected from a mature man at the time, but it holds himself back more than it helps him.
As Hamlet thinks of a way to determine the truth behind the Ghost’s words, he talks with an actor, who gives a very moving and passionate rendition of Priam’s murder, breaking down into tears at the end. “Why, what an ass am I!” (II, ii, 569) Hamlet is shocked at how strong the player’s reaction to a play can be, angry at himself for not showing enough resolve. Hamlet decides to determine the truth through the usage of a play, to see what Claudius’ reaction would be. His ability to think through his hotheadedness is important, it keeps him from making a potentially disastrous mistake in killing...

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