An In-depth Analysis of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

Aside from the Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet is probably also one of the most famous tragedies that William Shakespeare has ever written. Just like any other tragedies that Shakespeare has written, the story ended with the killing of many people including the main character, Hamlet. It also shows Shakespeare’s writing style with the concept of revenge, denied love, and many others. Before we can analyze the character of Hamlet, let us first take a glimpse on the story. The setting of the story is in Denmark.

The story began with the late King Hamlet haunting the night as a ghost.

Later on, Prince Hamlet’s friend, Horatio and the prince himself was told by the ghost that he was murdered by Claudius, the King’s brother. After murdering King Hamlet, Claudius got the throne and King Hamlet’s wife Gertrude. With all of these things being known by the young hamlet, he then plans for revenge. This plan consisted of acting mad and hiring and acting troupe to re-enact the said murder of the king.

After the acting, Gertrude scolded Hamlet for being disloyal to the King unaware that Polonius is hiding behind the curtains. Hamlet accidentally killed Polonius for he mistaken him as the King.

Because of this, Prince Hamlet was sent to England without knowing Claudius’ plans of killing him there. However, Hamlet manages to escape the guards and was able to go back to Denmark. But the story did not end there, with the death of his father Polonius, Ophelia lost her mind. Because of this, Laertes (Ophelia’s brother) went to Denmark to take revenge especially when he found out that Ophelia has drowned herself. Laertes planned his revenge to be done in a fencing battle and that he will stab Hamlet with a poisoned sword and that the king would give him a poisoned cup if he wins.

But the plan went crazy when Gertrude drank with the poisoned cup because of Hamlet’s near victory and when Laertes stabbed hamlet with the poisoned sword. They then exchange swords and Hamlet managed to stab Laertes with the poisoned blade. Realizing that the three of them are going to die, Hamlet decided to stab Claudius and make him drink the rest of the poisoned drink (Kriszner). Analysis of Hamlet’s Character After having read these things happen and done by our Shakespearean character, we can say that Hamlet does not have a constant or fixed characteristic.

Hamlet never fails to let the readers know that there is more to him that meets the eye. At first, it seemed that Hamlet is just a prince that is curious about his father’s death. But as the story progresses, the readers were seeing more and more of him. Hamlet, I must say, is a rational, truth-seeking character. If we are not to find the depth of Hamlet’s character’s it may seem that he is just a revengeful character. But planning for revenge is different from seeking the truth. Before planning his revenge, Hamlet first wanted to confirm if the Claudius is guilty.

With his actions when he hired an acting group, we can see that he is being rational and that although he seemed to be very angry at the King, he still chose to see first if the King is really guilty. Hamlet is also very contemplative because all the evidence that may prove that the King murdered his father is there but still he was so eager to prove that Claudius is guilty. Although any person or reader would believe that the evidence is enough, Hamlet still shows doubt and asks questions in his mind. Aside from being contemplative, we can say that the character of Hamlet is also impulsive.

A proof to this is the accidental killing of Polonius. Hamlet did not even spend time to check if it is really the king or not. Because of this impulsiveness, more revenge was triggered just like the planned revenge of Laertes which took part as the story progressed. He is also very impulsive when his character suddenly shifts to being a madman. Hamlet’s impulsiveness is also seen through his over toned speeches and allusions. The character of Hamlet also shows discontent, not just to his family but to current status of Denmark and eventually, the whole world.

This can be seen when he was disappointed about his mother when he married Claudius right after King Hamlet died. It is also noticeable in the play that he executes a particular dislike for women. This can be seen when he did not like the actions of his own mother and when he denied his love for Ophelia (“Hamlet Character Analysis”). Hamlet is also a character of will and passion. His character in the play perfectly suits his being young and enthusiastic. Because of his “youngness” and being enthusiastic, it seemed to us that he does not take time to reflect. Again, an example is when he killed Polonius.

He just does things that he thinks would fit the situation. He does things according to his will that is why the impression it gives the audience is that he is a character that is full of strength. Another characteristic of the Shakespearean hero is being undecided or puzzled. These are manifested with his asking about the afterlife, suicide, etc. Another part of the play wherein we can see Hamlet’s being undecided is when he changed his mind in killing King Claudius when he saw him praying. He then decided to kill him when “he is drunk, asleep, or in a rage” which could be a more lethal opportunity.

Because he cannot decide on when to kill the King, he resorted to first proving that the King really murdered his father. Different emotions can also be seen in the character of Hamlet. As the play progresses, different emotions are shown by our Shakespearean hero. At some parts, we can see an angry Hamlet where there are some parts where we see Hamlet as a character of despair. There are also parts that he seemed to be affectionate with Ophelia. Hamlet also executes betrayal and commit lies when he switched the letters and when he acted as a mad man.

Also, in some other parts of the story, we can see a grieving Hamlet (Mabillard). Hamlet is also a responsible character and is very willing to sacrifice. Although it is apparent that he wants revenge, we can say that he is just being responsible in seeking justice for his father’s death. He is responsible because he did not stop until he found justice for his father’s death. He sacrificed a lot of things like his love for Ophelia and even sacrificed his own life just for the sake of justice. Lastly, Hamlet shows a different lose of faith in people. One part of the play is when he lost his love for Ophelia.

Also, there are some parts of the story wherein he seemed to have lot his interest in life and that he thinks of the world as impure and unclean. Hamlet became very pessimistic about the world after finding out what his father has gone through. He showed disappointment and discontent not only to Denmark but to the whole world. Character Development, Dramatic Structure, and Presentation The development of Hamlet’s character started from being vengeful, to fighting for his life and justice, then grieving for the death of loved ones and the current state of his nation.

Hamlet, I must say, is one of the most “flavorful” characters that Shakespeare has ever made. His character started from being angry which resulted from planning revenge. Because of his plans, he then changes to a character who struggles from the situation he put his self into. And lastly, he shows grief with the loved ones he had lost (“Hamlet”). The dramatic structure of the play is obviously a tragedy. Of course, the dramatic content of the play includes conflict. Many of Shakespeare’s plays show order or unity. Many of them involve a group of people or society which will then be broken.

This situation would seem to be unresolved until the end of the story or until everyone is killed. Another part of the structure of this drama is the existence of the supernatural. This could be seen in the presence of the ghost of King Hamlet. This was also done by Shakespeare in some of his works like Macbeth and Midsummer night’s dream. This will then cause the disturbance of the situation. In the case of Hamlet, the ghost of King Hamlet triggered young Hamlet’s emotions which resulted to seeking revenge. Since the story is a tragedy, we expect that the conflict can only be resolved with the death of the main character.

However, not all tragedies end after the killing of the main character. Some tragedies end by grieving to the death of the fallen hero or carrying the hero’s dead body. This will then show the “bringing back” of unity amongst the broken society. Such dramatic structure was made by Shakespeare especially for the 18th century where in the concept of tragedies are not yet or less accepted by the public (Jhonston). Cultural Significance Hamlet has its effects on culture. It showed the people to face reality and not hide from the truth. In the century when the play was made, social hierarchy is a big deal.

Social status is an important issue that is why the play addresses that we should be true to ourselves and that we should not beautify the harsh realities of life (Cook). It seems that Shakespeare wanted to show the imperfections of man through Hamlet’s dissatisfaction of the world. The play seems to whine about the current state of our culture and society and that people should not beautify the mistakes of the society and the culture they built upon. Reference: Cook, Hardy M. “The Meaning of Hamlet”. 2004. July 18 2007. <http://www. shaksper. net/archives/2004/1938. html>. “Hamlet”. 2006. July 19 2007.

<http://www. teachwithmovies. org/samples/hamlet. html>. “Hamlet Character Analysis”. 2005. Absolute Shakespeare. July 18 2007. <http://absoluteshakespeare. com/guides/essays/hamlet_characters_essay. htm>. Jhonston, Ian. “Darmatic Structure: Comedy and Tragedy”. 2007. July 19 2007. <http://www. siue. edu/~ejoy/eng208NotesOnComedyAndTragedy. htm>. Kriszner, Laurie G. Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 6th ed: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2006. Mabillard, Amanda. “Hamlet Character Analysis”. 2000. Shakespeare online. July 19 2007. <http://www. shakespeare-online. com/playanalysis/hamletchar. html>.

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