Analysis of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”

Revenge

An eye for an eye is predominantly seen in Hamlet, the lack of understanding and the impulsive attitude of Hamlet gives the play another dimension altogether. Revenge is not a good thing to pursue but Hamlet chose to do so and together with his impulsive nature, cost him dearly. Three major families involved in the play got ruthlessly slaughtered, namely: the family of Polonius, a family of king Fortinbras and lastly the family of Hamlet. This play gives an indication of how people act senselessly when they lose their near and dear ones. The eldest sons of all three families got involved in the vicious process of revenge and all the three paid a very hefty price for the same. Hamlet hogs the limelight and he is the one who slaughters people in the play, his impulsive and revengeful nature is easily the highlight of the play. There is an evident lack of thought in the major characters of the play, there are many major characters who take drastic steps without even giving it a thought and this is seen to have serious repercussions in the play. The downfall of all the three families in the play happens for one common reason and that is to avenge the death of their near and dear ones and this factor is a big enough factor to conclude that Hamlet is a revenge-based tragedy.

Aristotle was a genius and he set some guidelines for a play to be a tragedy, he believed that the presence of a tragic hero is a must for any tragedy; he also believed that the tragic hero suffers excessively in a tragedy. Hamlet is one such tragedy in which the character of Hamlet suffers excessively because of his tragic flaw.

Hamlet is a tragedy and in a tragedy, the tragic hero suffers from a tragic flaw. The tragic flaw in Hamlet is the impulsive nature of Hamlet. Hamlet fails to act when he thinks, the whole process of acting upon a decision never happens in Hamlet and the same is the tragic flaw in Hamlet. One thing which stands out in the play is the ability of Shakespeare to manipulate the language; this has been very effectively done in the play. The play is based upon revenge; Hamlet takes revenge for his father’s death in the play. Revenge is a very dangerous motive but a very powerful one.

Shakespeare is a household name; he was a creative genius and produced more masterpieces than one. His popularity knows no bounds, even to date people hold the highest regard for his work. His work constitutes a part of the syllabus in major Universities and colleges. Hamlet is one of his masterpieces, Hamlet is a tragedy and in a tragedy, the tragic hero suffers from a tragic flaw. The tragic flaw in Hamlet is the impulsive nature of Hamlet. Hamlet fails to act when he thinks, the whole process of acting upon a decision never happens in Hamlet and the same is the tragic flaw in Hamlet. One thing which stands out in the play is the ability of Shakespeare to manipulate the language; this has been very effectively done in the play. The play is based upon revenge; Hamlet takes revenge for his father’s death in the play. Revenge is a very dangerous motive but a very powerful one. This paper will throw light upon the fates of the characters of Hamlet, his delay in avenging the death of his father will also be thrown light upon in this paper.

“This drama is one of the great tragedy-themed plays by William Shakespeare. The themes of the plot cover indecision, revenge, and retribution, deception, ambition, loyalty, and fate. Prince Hamlet mourns both his father’s death and his mother, Queen Gertrude’s remarriage to Claudius. The ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to him and tells him that Claudius has poisoned him. Hamlet swears revenge. He kills the eavesdropping Polonius, the court chamberlain. Polonius’s son Laertes returns to Denmark to avenge his father’s death. Polonius’s daughter Ophelia loves the Prince but his behavior drives her to madness. Ophelia dies by drowning. A duel takes place and ends with the death of Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet.” (The Summary of Hamlet, 26 April 2009).

Delay in Avenging the Death of his Father

Hamlet is a very intriguing play and the play is based around the story of revenge which gets delayed. Claudius is the protagonist in the play and Hamlet plays the role of a tragic hero in the play. He gets many chances to kill Claudius but he delays avenging the death of his father, Hamlet gets possibly the finest opportunity when Claudius is seen to be praying in the play but Hamlet does not kill him there, this prolonging of revenge shapes up the play very well and it is easily the highlight of the play. The impulsive nature of Hamlet is another very interesting aspect of the play. Had Hamlet killed Claudius earlier in the play, the play would have lost its charm, the delay in Hamlet’s revenge is one of the biggest factors that intrigues the readers.

Let’s now take into consideration the character of Hamlet, as discussed earlier, it can be easily made out that Hamlet was an impulsive person. His father was the king of Denmark and he was killed by Claudius, who has now become the king by marrying Hamlet’s mother. A ghost tells Hamlet that his father was murdered by King Claudius and this allegation was later proved. Based on this assumption that Claudius killed his father, Hamlet decides to take revenge for the death of his father. Hamlet’s rash actions go on to decide his fate. In the sense that he succeeds in killing King Claudius but prior to this Hamlet ends up killing an innocent old man by the name Polonius. Hamlet decides not to kill Claudius while he was praying; this causes an unnecessary delay and only goes on to make the readers believe that the actions of Hamlet were very Impulsive. To conclude with the character of Hamlet it can be said that since revenge was his sole aim, no one could have predicted the future and there are risks involved when a person seeks revenge, so it is fair to say that the death of Hamlet was not surprising as a reader and he pretty much deserved it. This is purely based on the fact that anything can happen when one seeks revenge.

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” (Hamlet, 26 April 2009). Marcellus speaks this line the word rotten goes to show the atmosphere in Denmark. The atmosphere is very bad because of the crime committed by Claudius. He killed Hamlet to come to the throne and this is exactly what shapes up the play and it is also the plot of the play.

“O, That this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew.” (Quotes from Hamlet, 26 April 2009). Hamlet is a revenge play in which Hamlet takes revenge for his father’s murder which was committed by Claudius who came to the throne after killing Hamlet’s father. The play is an amazing play that became very popular because of the plot and the unseen events which take place in the play.

Claudius The Antagonist

Let’s now take into consideration the character of Claudius, the villain in Hamlet. He is a very lustful and shrewd character in the play; the same also makes him different from all the other male characters in the play. He is a different male character in the play because all the other male characters in the play strive for justice and moral balance. The readers get a very positive opinion about Claudius initially; he gives a very impressive speech addressing some of the most important issues like the death of his brother (Hamlet’s Father) and the tense situation with Norway.

Claudius is seen to be putting his mind to good use in the play, he makes the people comfortable because he knew that failing to do so may lead to a rebellion as there was a change in the government and this was because he took over the throne, so to safeguard his interest he cleverly makes the people comfortable so as to make sure that no conflict at a later stage arises. “His speech juxtaposes the people’s loss with the new beginning they will have under his care, and he uses the death of Hamlet’s father to create a sense of national solidarity, “the whole kingdom/to be contracted in one brow of woe” (Claudius, 26 April 2009). Claudius should be looked at as a multi-faced villain who lets his desires get the better of him. Considering the fact that he kills Hamlet’s father, the ex-king of Denmark. He deserves what he gets in the play. He deserved to be killed for the murder of Hamlet’s father, so it is very fair to say that he got what he deserved.

Orphelia plays the love interest of Prince Hamlet in the play. She is the daughter of Polonius. Polonius makes full use of Orphelia in the play, he turns her into a whore for his benefit and her character displays a lot of originality and simplicity. She lost her mother at a very young age and her father and her brother took care of her. She showers unconditional love on them. She also loves prince Hamlet unconditionally in the play, despite his impulsive nature; she also completely ignores his brutal nature. She faces a lot of mental trauma in the play because of Prince Hamlet, he kills her father and she goes insane. Considering all these events she certainly did not deserve to go insane, she deserved much better than what she got.

Conclusion

After reading the play we get the impression that seeking revenge destroys everything, just like it destroyed Hamlet’s life and also the life of his family members. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth shouldn’t be followed; the choice is up to the individual to choose. If a person goes Hamlet’s way then undoubtedly it will lead to devastation on the contrary if a person analyzes the situation and then with a cool head decides not to seek revenge is sure to get better results and life is all about getting better results.

Revenge is a very dangerous motive but a very powerful one that destroys everyone involved in the dangerous process of seeking revenge. This tragedy of Hamlet is certainly one of its kind and Hamlet’s intention to take revenge causes the other characters in the play to suffer and this is one of the features of a tragedy. There is a certain element of madness also in the character of Hamlet; he goes so crazy behind avenging his father’s death that he forgets all the other things in life. His lover goes insane and kills herself but he still does not get affected by the same and goes on an unprecedented quest to avenge his father’s death. To conclude it is very fair to say that the character of Hamlet had only one thing in mind, revenge, and the same ruined him and all the other characters in the tragedy.

References

Claudius. In Shakespeare. 2009. Web.

Hamlet. In Spark Notes. 2009. Web.

Quotes from Hamlet. In Literary Quotations. 2009. Web.

Shakespeare William. Hamlet 1.2.

Shakespeare William. Hamlet 1.4.

Shakespeare William. Hamlet 1.5.

The Summary of Hamlet. In Globe Theatre. 2009. Web.