William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, gives us the character Hamlet, who illustrates man’s search for a true identity. Constructed may it be, through his soliloquies, a complete character. With Hamlet’s character alone on stage, his ideas and feelings, portray to the audience no modification. This is a speaking role designed to influence other characters within the play. Through these soliloquies, it is seen how Hamlet’s thoughts change over time.
The first opportunity to observe the internal character values of the prince come from his first soliloquy in which it reveals how Hamlet feels toward Claudius and Gertrude as well as himself. Hamlet clearly had feeling of disgust with these two characters when he says:
“With such dexterity to incestuous sheets” (Hamlet act I, scene ii).
The reasons for Hamlet’s insults are that he does not understand why Gertrude married Claudius so hastily, and that upsets him. In the play Hamlet hates Claudius and morns still over his late father; therefore he doesn’t want Claudius in his father’s position. Hamlet’s first soliloquy also gives insight to how he handles the stressful situation emotionally, and does so by wishing suicide were not a sin when he says:
“Or that the Everlasting has not fixed/ His canon ‘gainst O God, O God,” (Hamlet Act I, Scene ii).
Hamlet, torn asunder, internally, by the events presented to him and rather than facing them head on without delay he would much rather escape the scenario altogether. This longing for an easy way out gives us the basis of Hamlet’s character.
When introduced to the driving conflict in the play, that is, the news from the ghost of King Hamlet that Claudius had murdered the king, prince Hamlet is justly outraged. Hamlet tells himself he will think of nothing but revenge:
“Yea, from the table of my memory
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,
Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!”
(Hamlet Act I, Scene V)
Here Hamlet swears to God and heaven his swift and terrible revenge. Hamlet’s previously viewed character trait of conflict avoidance is now replaced by raw emotion and drive to accomplish a very specific goal, his anger has a much more powerful force behind it than Claudius sleeping with his mother. Notable however, is that the momentum of his rage does not stay preserved; Hamlet delays his plans of vengeance. His reasoning is his uncertainty of Claudius’ guilt. The prince’s habit of procrastination mirrors his earlier trait of conflict avoidance by longing for death.
Further in the play Hamlet has designed a play that will mirror his father’s murder in order to see Claudius’ reaction. After Hamlet observes the play, the actor successfully moves himself to tears and continues acting Hamlet has this to say as a soliloquy: