Hamlet: Character Analysis

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, did they deserve what they got. A comprehensive analysis will be provided on the same.

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 before this Hamlet ends up killing the 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.

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 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,  2008). Claudius should be looked at as a multi-faced villain who lets his desires get the better of him. Because 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.

Polonius is a very corrupt character in Hamlet, he betrays people to whom he should be loyal. He is a hypocrite, his sole aim was to make sure that the safeguards his interests; he had nothing to do with other people. One example of Polonius’s hypocrisy is as follows, he served king Hamlet with dedication but he also supported King Claudius, who had killed king Hamlet. This is a classic example that goes to show that Polonius was a hypocrite. Looking at the fact that he was a dishonest man and indulged in corruption, it can be said that he certainly deserved to be stabbed by Hamlet even though it was again the impulsive nature of Hamlet which gets highlighted in his murder. Without making sure who is on the other side of the curtain Hamlet decides to kill the person only to find out that it was Polonius.

Guildenstern & Rosencrantz are not the main characters of the play Hamlet. Guildenstern & Rosencrantz are very good friends in the play. Guildenstern is a little more pessimistic when compared to Rosencrantz. Rosencrantz. Is a very optimistic person in the play, there is one noticeable thing about him in the play, which is that he gets easily distracted the play. Considering all the above facts and also keeping in mind that these characters did not do anything intolerable, they certainly did not deserve to be killed.

Gertrude is the mother of Prince Hamlet in the play. Sex played a major role in her life and the same instills a feeling of disgust in the mind of price Hamlet towards her. Within a very few days of her husband’s death, she decides to marry Claudius. This goes to show that her desires were out of her control and she did not care about anyone else other than her. The play also suggests that she was in love with Claudius even before the death of King Hamlet; this goes to show how lustful she was. Considering all these details she certainly deserved to die.

Laertes is the son of Polonius in the play. There is very little data available about Laertes. “Laertes is Polonius’s son and Ophelia’s brother. He has come to Denmark for King Claudius’s coronation. In his first appearance in I.ii, he seeks permission to return to France. When he appears again in I.iii, Laertes bids his sister Ophelia farewell and warns her about Hamlet. He advises her that Hamlet can’t choose a mate for himself alone, but, being the prince, must think of the state. Thus, he cautions Ophelia to protect her virtue. Polonius then enters and advises his son on how to conduct himself while in France. When his father is finished, Laertes leaves for France.” (Hamlet, 11 October 2008). There cannot be anything said about the fate of Laertes because there is very little information available about him.

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.


  1. Claudius. In Shakespeare.