Hamlet's Arrogance Essay

1051 words - 4 pages

Custer’s Last Stand. The Battle of Stalingrad. Napoleon’s Russian Campaign. The introduction of the Pontiac Aztek. All epic failures, yes, but moreover, all epic failures caused by arrogance on behalf of the aggressor. Custer’s rampant jingoism caused him to assault those Native Americans with only a meager squad of troops. Napoleon’s Napoleon complex pushed him to drive his troops thousands of miles across Eurasia only to face the Red Army in winter. GM’s bravado at an upswing in the market cycle led it to release a hideous crossover with no true target audience. Whether it is some raging lust that blinds us to our faults or an innate flaw that leads us to secretly desire carnage and disorder, pomposity is often the cause of the pockmarks and events that define the timeline of human existence; that is, the defeats that go down in the history books are the ones induced by the attacker’s sense of self-importance. Shakespeare ensures that conceit will once again wreak havoc on the lives of the unsuspecting in Hamlet with two seemingly harmless words: “Buzz, buzz” (II, ii, 417). This, Hamlet’s pretentious dismissal of a loyal friend by comparing his news to the drone of idle conversation, makes it clear that hubris and the blindness that accompanies it, whether intentional or not, are the ultimate source of tragedy in Hamlet.
Perhaps no player better exemplifies this plot progression introduced by arrogance than the title character and protagonist of the play, Hamlet. While other characters may grow to become dismissive, Hamlet, from the very onset of the work, remains aloof and disregards information that may have been vital to his survival. Instead of being joyful that his mother could move on after the death of her husband, Hamlet instead plays the emo card and mopes about the palace, whining that, “Nor customary suits of solemn black, / Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, /No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, / […] can denote me truly” (Hamlet I, ii, 81-86). Wallowing in his father’s death for a month only exacerbates his depression and contempt for Claudius, the two combining to make it appear that Hamlet is nearly trying to pick a fight; Hamlet eschews the advice by Claudius to leave his “obstinate condolement” and “impious stubbornness” and move on (I, ii, 98-99). Furthermore, Hamlet seems to believe that hearing from a ghost that his father was murdered gives him license to be belligerent and short with everyone who approaches him. When Polonius innocently asks him what he is reading, Hamlet caustically retorts with “Words, words, words”, tacitly implying that he is somehow a rung above Polonius and does not have to be subjected to his trite conversation (II, ii, 210). Hamlet’s haughtiness shines through once again as he prepares to land a kill blow on Claudius, avenging his father’s death and putting an end to the central conflict; he feels that he is above slaying his uncle while he is praying and must end him when he is “about...

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