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Hamlet’s Defining Romantic Characteristics Essay

1230 words - 5 pages

To reach a difficult goal, it is necessary to face many arduous obstacles. An example of one of these obstacles would be to make the right decision. Making that decision, however, becomes much more difficult when one’s characteristics get in the way. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the protagonist’s Romantic characteristics of overthinking without acting, overpowering emotions, and isolation cloud his sense of judgement, bringing about his downfall.
To begin, Hamlet’s pensiveness leads him onto the path of his own demise. Hamlet always spends his time thinking; whether it be about his father’s untimely death, his mother’s incestuous marriage, or the revenge he plans for Claudius. However, this creates a fatal problem for him. Firstly, when he is not pursuing or thinking about revenge, he often wastes his time just thinking. This can be seen in his infamous speech, where he spends much time contemplating suicide. He ponders:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them (3, 1, 57-60).

If Hamlet were to stop overthinking things and simply take action, he would have more time to enact revenge. Even so, he still does not act. Instead, Hamlet continues to brew over the possibilities, and even realizes that he is “thinking too precisely on th’event” (4, 4, 41). However, even when he is presented with the perfect opportunity for revenge, Hamlet’s pensiveness and hesitation causes him to lose this opportunity. At first, he is confident in his plan, but he then thinks, and realizes that “this is hire and salary, not revenge” (3, 3, 79). Because of his hesitation, he lets Claudius go, not knowing that “[Claudius’s] words fly up, [his] thoughts remain below./ Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” (3, 3, 97-98). Claudius was never truly praying, since he prayed without the intention to repent for his sins. If Hamlet were to follow his instincts and commit murder, he could have avenged his father, and prolonged his death at the same time. All things considered, this scene evidently shows that Hamlet’s constant thinking and tendency to hesitate distracts him from his revenge, thus causing his early death.
Next, Hamlet’s overwhelming emotional side is another Romantic characteristic that brings about his downfall. After his father’s death, Hamlet loses interest in the things that he once enjoyed, and becomes sensitive and moody. As a result, he acts on emotion rather than logic, causing him to make rash decisions and say unnecessary things. For example, when Hamlet first learns of his father’s murder, he cannot handle it alone, so he runs to the one person there for him: his lover, Ophelia. Yet, when she sees him, she notices that he had “a look so piteous in purport/ As if he had been loosèd out of hell/ To speak of horrors” (2, 1, 80-82). Worried, she tells her father, who immediately relays the news to Claudius. However, Claudius is skeptical of...

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