Psychological Aspects of Shakespeare’s Hamlet
This paper discusses the character Hamlet from Shakespeare’s play and feels that he was simply a troubled young man.
Psychological Aspects of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Hamlet was the prince of Denmark, son of the assassinated King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude, and nephew to Claudius. Hamlet, (during the play) goes through some very troubling situations in which he seems to act in an insane manner. But I am convinced that he was “…not in madness, but mad in craft.” I also believe that he was a man of high moral standards, in fact higher than most of the people in Denmark at that time.
Hamlet was bombarded by many situations at the start of the play which his psyche had to deal with. He was very up-set (as any other person would be) with his father’s murder and, at the same time, his mother’s hurried remarriage. HAMLET: “Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes, she married.
O, most wicked speed, to post with suck dexterity to incestuous sheets!” He then heard from his good friend Horatio that they had seen a ghost during the night watch. Hamlet was shocked at the description of the ghost and he said to him-self “My father’s spirit-in arms? All is not well. I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!” Hamlet’s per-sonality underwent severe stresses due to the situations en-countered and consequently, he had to find a way to solve the apparent problems. In Act 1, Scene 5, Hamlet while talking to his father’s ghost was urged to avenge the foul murder, but to leave his mother out of it as her guilt would be punishment enough. GHOST: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. …Leave her to heaven, and to those thorns that in her bosom lodge to prick and sting her.” The ghost of the previous king gave Hamlet the solution that he needed. The ghost also be-seeched Hamlet to “…Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest…”. This showed that Ham-let was required to not only restore his honor, but to re-store the honor of all of Denmark as well! The added burden upon his shoulders caused him to clear from his mind all but what was necessary to solve his dilemma. This would have allowed him to think in a rational and sane manner. It also explains why later he is unable to pursue his relationship with his true love Ophelia, and instead tries to make her disinterested in him so that again, he may concentrate on the tasks at hand. Hamlet used his cunning when he devised a plan to see if his uncle really was a killer or if he was merely being tricked by the ghost. He got the company of players that were passing through to perform a modified ver-sion of a play in which a king was murdered by his brother. Then he watched his uncle during the performance and noticed Claudius getting uneasy and finally leaving. This confirmed that what Hamlet was going to do was the right thing. I feel that his double checking of the situation further en-forced the fact that he was sane and in every way normal. (Where an insane or merely enraged person would be impulsive and act fast without thinking.) On his way to solving his predicament, Hamlet was met with many obstacles that he had to overcome. Such as when Claudius (using Hamlet’s feign madness as an excuse), told Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that Hamlet was a threat and that they were to take him to England as soon as possible. However, Hamlet being the clever man that he was, figured out the King’s plot and reversed it so that the treacherous Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were executed instead. Hamlet, having possessed so many qualities and demon-strated rational and wise thought time and time again, was in my opinion totally sane and perhaps even brilliant in some ways. I conclude that Hamlet was more than simply a troubled young man and, because of his decency and his un-derstanding of his culture’s expectations, acted as he did..
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