Hamlet is a complex character who starts out as an interesting character, making him one of the most discussed and debated (for good and bad) characters in all of Shakespeare’s work. He is one of the most talked about characters in literature because he represents something that we see in all people – contradictions!
Hamlet’s frustrations are mainly directed toward his mother, Gertrude. Her behavior disgusted him because it was considered unacceptable in a patriarchal society. Hamlet refuses to let women fit into this traditional mindset and has negative feelings toward them.
Hamlet is in a state of misery at the beginning of the play. His mother remarried Claudius, and Hamlet resented him because he believed his parents should’ve cherished each other. King Claudius then displayed their relationship, which went beyond what Hamlet liked. “Therefore, our former sister-in-law is now our queen,” Claudius posts after Gertrude’s wedding, and Hamlet shakes his head in disagreement because he idolizes his father.
Hamlet’s father has recently died, so he is feeling emotional. Gertrude comes in and tries to make him feel better instead of showing her remorse over the death; she criticizes Hamlet for his emotional response. When he replies that this is only “the trappings and the suits of woe,” it shows that he feels these emotions just like everyone else.
Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, doesn’t want Hamlet to grieve over his father’s death. Claudius wants to try and stop Hamlet from grieving so much, so he says, “It’s unmanly grief.” And yet this only makes the audience wonder why Hamlet blames his mother, not Claudius. Shakespeare shows how much wrong Claudius has done for it to make people question why they blame their mom instead of him.
Hamlet’s most controversial and important scene is his monologue. This puts Hamlet on stage by himself, so the audience focuses on him, exposing his true feelings. Here, Shakespeare shows that Hamlet thinks his mother is “rank and gross,” and he idolizes his father, who is “so excellent a king.”
Hamlet’s language shows the audience how much he knows his mother and what she has done to him. He uses words such as “frail” and “crack-brained,” which show the audience the corruption of women in general. The exclamation mark shows how strong his feelings are toward women in general. Hamlet says a beast would mourn longer than his mother, portraying her as extremely wicked.
There is an interesting, brief mention of Hamlet’s mother and uncle in Horatio’s musings. In this passage, Hamlet seems confused, implying that his parents’ relationship is a mystery. The reader can only speculate as to why a couple would marry so quickly after Horatio’s father dies; could it have been to avoid the legal repercussions of incest? Also, in this section, Hamlet mentions how much he loved his father again and epitomizes what a great father he was. At the end of this scene, Shakespeare shows Hamlet’s opinion on the loss of his father when he utters, “Till then sit still my soul.”
Laertes and Polonius confront Ophelia in Act 1, Scene 3. They try to tell her that Hamlet isn’t interested in her and she’s behaving inappropriately because it doesn’t fit what society expects of her. In the scene, Laertes tells Ophelia that Hamlet is not interested in her. He explains that Hamlet will most likely reject anyone “who comes purely for themselves” but that he doesn’t need anyone like that. Shakespeare shows concern for what is happening by using a metaphor: something happens to someone due to a plant thing. For example, weeds grow before they are properly bloomed. This shows the feelings of Laertes, who thinks Ophelia acted inappropriately and did not act with care toward herself.
Despite being a student and dealing with his father’s death, Hamlet is still extremely intelligent. He has always been very philosophical and contemplative in tragedy. His internal struggle between choices and decisions is brutally evident from the story’s beginning, leading to uncertainty and a lack of certainty. Hamlet is devastated by his father’s death, not just because he feels guilty but also because he has idolized his father for decades. The situation becomes even more unbearable when Claudius shows up out of the blue and starts courting Gertrude again. The entire situation causes intense deprivation in Hamlet, who now believes that Claudius murdered his dad. In many ways, this situation is elaborate evidence proving Claudius was somehow shady or hiding something. However, Hamlet would rather act on instinct than let reason rule him, as this often results in making mistakes that leave him vulnerable to attacks from others in power with their hidden agendas.
Though Hamlet’s tragic flaw of being consumed by his obsession means he often makes impulsive decisions, his shadow can also be seen in several other conundrums. His rash actions, without thorough consideration, reflect the shadow of cognitive disorders. The situation is shown when he stabs Polonius without checking who he is–and even before stabbing him, Hamlet has already started thinking about how it might not have been Polonius. While Hamlet constantly argues against the decision to remarry, King Claudius describes Gertrude, the cold woman in the play, as “all that lives must die” because she is willing to give herself to save her son. Similarly, Claudius says that Hamlet’s visitation habits are mere “like trappings and suits of woe.” These remarks indicate closely observing someone’s emotions could lead to questions about their masculinity or depth of character. With most of the story set during mourning and examining grief from many angles, Queen Gertrude tells Claudius in Act 1 Scene 2 that there is nothing wrong with Hamlet–it’s just an act for the show.
There are many reasons why Hamlet uses soliloquy in this play, some of which include reflecting on feelings of disgust for his father’s new wife or preserving the memory of his sister. More importantly, soliloquies often develop strong symbolism about the character’s personality traits. For example, in the monologue, Hamlet denounces his mother and uncle for the same mistakes that he made since they were married too soon.
There are a lot of negative qualities to Hamlet’s personality. One of the most prominent is his high cynicism, which encapsulates all his negativity and lack of optimism. His attitude towards life ranges from negative to positive, oscillating between thoughtfulness and impulsiveness. He often felt unusually cloudy, indecisive, and impulsive most of his life.
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