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Hamlet:The Enigmatic Character Essay

1938 words - 8 pages

Hamlet: one of the most analyzed tragic heroes in all of literature. Hamlet, the main character in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is conflicted throughout the whole play. He obsesses over avenging his father’s death, and this leads to rash, irresponsible actions that cause others to suffer, as well. He plans to kill Claudius, his uncle, for murdering his father and then marrying his mother. In an act of outrage, Hamlet unknowingly kills Polonius, the King’s assistant, instead. This creates even more problems because now someone else’s father is dead. Hamlet is somewhat of an inconsistent character; he’s different almost every time we see him. Hamlet displays characteristics of depression, irony, timidity, and being hurt.
Hamlet shows serious signs of depression from the beginning of the play to the end. Right off the bat, we see him grieving over the death of his father. Through dialogue later on with his mother, it is evident that he thought very highly of his father and his leadership. As if his father’s death was not hard enough to cope with, his mother, Gertrude, marries her brother-in-law, Claudius, less than two months after her husband’s death. It doesn’t help that his Uncle Claudius, after becoming the new king, basically calls him a crybaby for mourning his father’s death:
Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, to give these mourning duties to your father: but, you must know, your father lost a father, that father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound in filial obligation for some term to do obsequious sorrow: but to persever in obstinate condolement is a course of impious stubbornness, ‘tis unmanly grief; it shows a will most incorrect to heaven… (Meyer 1611)
A typical mourning period during this time period would have been at least a year, so Hamlet had every right to still be mourning, and he thought it appropriate that his mother should be mourning still, as well.
Hamlet ends up creating quite an ironic mess of things. He says and plans to do one thing but ends up doing the exact opposite. For most of the play, we read about him planning on how he is going to get revenge on his uncle. He waits forever to actually take any action. In the words of John Lennard, he is “a man of words rather than action.” After the ghost tells him what really happened, he keeps quiet and waits. He has to make sure that the ghost was telling the truth. He devised a plan: he presented a play that strongly resembled the story of his father’s murder. After watching his uncle abruptly arise and say, “Give me some light: away!” and rush off, he is convinced without a doubt that Claudius really did kill his father (Meyer 1654). When he finally does do something about it, he accidently kills the wrong person. As he prepares to kill “Claudius”, who is hiding in Gertrude’s room, it does not occur to him that he should check who is there before he acts. He ends up killing Polonius, lord chamberlain to the king. Now Laertes and Opehlia, Polonius’ son...

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