The Universal Inner Struggle Revealed in Hamlet
Life is defined by the struggles it presents us. Without these constant tests of our fortitude, we would never grow as mature human beings. This is the one common denominator linking all people, past, present, and future. It is no mystery why our literature and art reflect this characteristic. The creation of a character is a mirror-image of a human. Shakespeare perfectly understood this truth. He crafted Hamlet, Claudius, Polonius, and his many other characters so that they would reflect life and in this way, entertain and educate his audience. Shakespeare's outright goal may have been to simply make money, but along the way, he sculpted beautiful characters filled with human qualities. In particular, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, possesses the universal theme of internal struggle. Furthermore, he also displays a fervent desire to rectify his situation, an attitude easy sympathized with. These two aspects of Hamlet make him one of Shakespeare's most likeable and understandable characters. The reader (or the audience) yearns to identify with his thoughts and actions.
Throughout the play, the audience gets a voyeuristic glimpse into the internal struggle of Hamlet. This access allows the reader to see a quality in Hamlet that they have in themselves: a deeper conscience. While not everyone must contend with problems of murder and incest, each person has individual struggles that they keep within themselves, just as Hamlet wrestles with his hardships. Watching Hamlet deal with his problems is cathartic for the reader. One of the most powerful scenes occurs when Hamlet happens upon a chance to stealthily kill Claudius; however, the King is praying: "What if this cursed hand were thicker than itself with brother's blood, is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens to wash it white as snow?" (3.3.43-45). After all of Hamlet's scheming, planning, and thinking, he gets his proof by simply being in the right place, at the right time. The time for "words, words, words" is over; action is necessary. But again, Hamlet falters. Recognizing the effects of prayer, Hamlet seethes: "A villain kills my father, and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven" (3.3.76-78). The prince is again in a bind. Allowing the reader access to his thoughts makes Hamlet an instantly sympathic character, and quenches the voyeuristic appetite of the reader. Hamlet's struggle is not over, and the reader wonders if he will ever meet an agreeable fate.
As Hamlet contends with...