An analysis of the characters in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
“Hamlet” In the play Hamlet, William Shakespeare proposed two kinds of men. Horatio is the character who represents a man of thought. The other kind of man is represented by Fortinbras, a man of action. Hamlet is the character that manages to be both, thought and action. Hamlet failed to avenge his father’s death because he was both. According to Shakespeare in the play Hamlet, a man could not succeed if ge was both action and thought. The most evident man of thought in the play was Horatio.
Horatio sees the world with the eyes of a scholar and views things in a logical manner. Horatio sees the ghost and Hamlet says ” There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (1.5.166-168).
This reveals Horatio’s attitude to the audience. It shows that Horatio only believes in what scholars say. Study is his only purpose I life. He is admired and used by others for his knowledge, The audience becomes aware of this admiration when the soldiers use Horatio the speak with the ghost.
Marcellus says “Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio” ( 1.1.42). The soldiers need Horatio because he is an educated man. As a man of thought Horatio has a significant role in helping society. Fortinbras is a man of action. He takes action before he thinks about the consequences of his actions. The king is making use of these characteristics when he says “we have to writ to Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras–Who impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears of his nephew’s purpose to suppress his further gait” (1.2.29-32).
In this quote the king has stopped Fortinbras’ invasion of Denmark. The king was able to do this because Fortinbras didn’t consider what would happen if His uncle found out. Another quotation showing Fortinbras’ action without thought is made by Hamlet. Hamlet has just learned of the invasion of Poland led by Fortinbras. When Hamlet says “The imminent death of twenty thousand men, that for a fantasy and trick of fame” (44.60-61) he is stating the consequences of Fortinbras’ actions. Hamlet is saying that many men will die just so Fortinbras can be famous. Fortinbras is the character who best represents a man of action in this play. The hero of the play, Hamlet, Is a man of both action and thought. The cause of Hamlet’s failure is being a man of both. Hamlet is aware that his thinking is getting in the way of his revenge. He tells the audience this when he says “thus conscious does make cowards of us all” (3.1.83).
Hamlet also has a dilemma because when he acts without thought , the consequences are severe One example of this is the death of Polonius. In the scene where Polonius, Hamlet acts without thinking and accidentally kills Polonius. The queen sums up the Situation when she says “O’ what a rash and bloody deed this is!” (3.4.27). Just thought alone doesn’t work for Hamlet because he is also a man of action. When he uses too much thought he becomes frustrated. A quote showing this is ” Promoted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words” (2.2.620-621).
Thought serves to delay action with Hamlet and defeat his purpose. In act three Hamlet has thought so much, he needs the ghost of his father to spur him into action again. The ghost says “This visitation Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose” (3.4.110-111) to get Hamlet to revenge him. Hamlet is always looking for more proof before he acts. He reveals this need to the audience when he says “I’ll have grounds More relative than this” (2.2.639-640).
The action serve to cancel one another and only confuse young Hamlet. As a man of thought and action, Hamlet is a failure in his quest to revenge his father’s murder. Through out the whole play Hamlet, there are two kinds of men. Horatio i s a man of thought who rarely acts, but is effective and has a has a place in society as a man of thought. The man of action is Fortinbras who, unlike Horatio, acts without thinking as to the consequences of his actions. The main character of the play, Hamlet, was a man of both thought and action. Hamlet was a failure because he was both. In the play Hamlet, it is shown that it is okay to be a man of thought or a man of action, but to be both is counterproductive.
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