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William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

1273 words - 5 pages

William Shakespeare's Hamlet

A tragic play is one in which the protagonist dies through disaster
evoked by a combination of personal faults and circumstances out with
the character's control. Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is true to this genre,
depicting a noble, but flawed, character that is subject to outrageous
twists of fate ultimately leading to his demise. However, to what
extent can Hamlet's downfall be attributed to his own failings?

From the start of the play, the reader is shown a tormented Hamlet,
mourning the loss of his father and insulted by his mother's hasty
remarriage to his uncle. However, this sadness and disappointment
quickly turns to wrath as the ghost of his father reveals to him that
it was Hamlet's new stepfather who murdered him. As the play unfolds,
all these factors play an integral role in the young prince's untimely
end. It is also notable that Hamlet had little control over these
events, seeing as his father was killed while he was abroad at
university and even if he were there, he would not have been able to
intervene, as he would not have known of Claudius' murderous
intentions. Similarly, Hamlet was unable to stop Gertrude's marriage
to his uncle seen as his protests to that end fell on deaf ears.

However, these actions, in themselves, did not cause the massacre that
would end the play but rather Hamlet's reactions. For example, Hamlet
possessed an unhealthy fascination with his mother and rather than
being happy that his mother will now have love and companionship in
her new marriage, he harasses her and constantly bemoans the
incestuous nature of her union with Claudius. This fascination is
perhaps down to jealousy for his uncle, as there is some evidence to
suggest that Hamlet may have had Oedipal feelings for his mother, the
most notable of which, can be seen in the closet scene where his
behaviour towards his mother is decidedly risqué. These unnatural and
unholy desires, in themselves, may be yet another aspect that spurred
him into behaving as he did, as Hamlet's Christian conscience would
surely torment him for possessing such feelings towards his own

Hamlet's conscience is a tangible force throughout the play,
understandably so seeing as even the most amoral of people must do
some ethical pondering before committing mass murder, so a godly
Christian man, like Hamlet, would be deeply troubled by having to
avenge the death of his father. But he also feels that he must seek
revenge and faces equal pressure to that end form the dead king's
apparition. This case of divided loyalties and guilt is bound to put
considerable pressure on Hamlet and perhaps spur him into acting in
ways he might not under normal circumstances.

His torn allegiances to God and his father lead onto one of Hamlet's
biggest failings - his inaction. Hamlet...

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