Hamlet Literary Analysis

1882 words - 8 pages


In “Hamlet';, the tragedy by William Shakespeare, Hamlet, the prince of Denmark withholds a great internal conflict throughout the play. As a result, Hamlet contradicts himself many times throughout out the play, which caused the unnecessary death of many others. As well as trying to be true to himself, Hamlet is an expert at acting out roles and making people falsely believe him. The roles he plays are ones in which he fakes madness to accomplish his goals. While one second Hamlet pretends to be under a strange spell of madness, seconds later he may become perfectly calm. He struggles with the issue of avenging his father’s death. He vows to kill Claudius but then backs out several times. Hamlet’s actions throughout the play support this deceitful nature. His dual personalities are the foundation of his madness. There are many examples that illustrate how Hamlet’s deceitful nature results in a tragedy because of his inability to choose which role to play.
     In Act One, Hamlet appears to be very straightforward in his actions and his role. When his mother questions him, Hamlet says, "Seems, madam? Nay it is. I know not seems" (1.2.76). By saying this, Hamlet lets Gertrude know that he is what she sees, torn over his father’s death. Later, he makes a clear statement about his state of mind when he commits himself to revenge. "I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, all saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, that youth and observation copied there, and thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain" (1.5.100-104). In that statement, Hamlet is declaring that he will be committed to nothing else but the revenge of his fathers death. There is no confusion about Hamlet’s character in Act One. He has said earlier that he is what he appears to be, and there is no reason to doubt it.
     In the next act, Hamlet’s intentions suddenly become confusing. In the first act, Hamlet was dedicated and inspired in seeking revenge. However, when Hamlet appears again in the second act, he loses the conviction that was present earlier. He has yet to take up the orders assigned to him by the ghost. He spends the act walking around, reading, and talking with Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and the players. It is not until the very end of the act that he even mentions revenge.
     These two acts show Hamlet’s insincerity and how tragedy results. With certain people, Hamlet is resolved to get revenge for his father’s death. With other people, this thought is the last thought in his mind. If he had any of the resolve he had showed earlier, his act of revenge would have already been completed. Instead of playing the part of the vengeful son, or dropping the issue entirely, he spends the entire act “slacking off';. He...

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