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Shakespeare's Hamlet And The Devil Essay

1150 words - 5 pages


Hamlet and the Devil         


Hamlet, for reasons of trepidation chooses not to kill Claudius, his nemesis, in the altar room. This fatal procrastination results in the unnecessary deaths of Laertes, Ophelia, Gertrude, and Hamlet himself. This casts a most inauspicious light upon Hamlet, but only if the original premise is true. The obverse side of the argument is that Hamlet, because he desires all those who are in league with Claudius to suffer the same ignominious fate that his father suffers. Thus he delays his revenge in order to intensify the misery of the other characters. This also casts a most inauspicious light upon Hamlet, but only if the general premise of the book is true, that Hamlet is the hero and is not enslaved to evil. That general premise is false. For even the Prince admits that he may be under the thrall of the Devil, who is able to “assume a pleasing shape” and is “very potent with such spirits [of melancholy]”.

         The first victim to fall under Hamlet’s preternatural wrath is Polonius. Hamlet, in rage that someone is spying on him, deliberately thrusts his sword for a mortal kill. When he discovers that it is Polonius, he shrugs and is not bothered in the least by it. Even though it appears that Hamlet is a ruthless murderer, Polonius is not totally blameless. Polonius, because he wishes to gain the favor of the new king by proving his own worth, is determined to find the reason for Hamlet’s madness. He thus spies on Hamlet and even forbids his daughter to see her. His connection to Claudius, and his spidery machinations are reasons for his downfall.   

         The downfall of Ophelia is linked directly to Polonius. Her flaw is that she cannot think for herself. She is always under the guidance of either her brother or her father. Even though her heart feels otherwise, she still obeys her father’s injunction of not being able to see Hamlet. Then when her father is killed, and her brother is away, she breaks down to insanity because there is no one to guide her. Her predicament mirrors that of Hamlet’s. They both lose their father, and their second closest family member is not able to support them. The difference is that Hamlet, imbued with the power of the Devil, does not seek suicide but rather revenge against all those in connection with Claudius. Ophelia is not able to coup with the vicissitudes of life and thus withers away, she is connected to Claudius because of her father and that is her downfall.

Hamlet’s most important victim is Claudius whom he attacks constantly with jeering witticism and harsh excoriations. The prince contrives a plan to reveal the truth about the king’s treachery by inviting him to a burlesque of the regicide in the form of a play. While the play is being performed, Hamlet conspicuously observes Claudius, who becomes...

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