Hamlet: How The Audience Reacts Essay, Research Paper
How does Shakespeare influence the audience?s response to the character of Hamlet?There are many scenes within the play of Hamlet, which can alter the audience?s perception of the main character, Hamlet. So much of Hamlet is an attempt to deceive the audience; Hamlet?s madness, his ?antic disposition? is a prime example. Others include Act Three Scene one, where Hamlet is incredibly, viciously rude toward Ophelia, his alleged lover. This impression of Hamlet depicts a ghastly picture, one of tribulation and inclemency.
Personally, I believe that the image portrayed by Shakespeare of Hamlet is one of aptitude for guile and justice. Many things during this complex play indicate that this is certainly the case. Hamlets plan with the Players is one of cunning and coyness; a play to damn his fathers killer, during Act Two Scene Two, ?The play?s the thing wherein I?ll catch the conscience of the King.? Although he is hell-bound on avenging his fathers death, this destructive rage within him is, nevertheless, overcome by his intelligence, forcing him to be sure himself of his fathers killer. This action shows us, the audience, of Hamlets mentality, and his overall mental predominance over his other acquaintances.
Another scene tells the audience that Hamlet is also a man of justice, a willing to discover the truth. Act three scene three is when Hamlet passes up his first, and as far as he knew, his only chance to kill his uncle. His reason was one of integrity, but also could be considered one of cruelty and vengeance. His procrastination of his uncle?s inevitable murder evidently displays an image of Hamlet doing what is right, or an image of arrant repugnance
Hamlet is not an evil man. It is quite understandable that he has a hatred for his uncle, but what is alarming is his absolute unforgiving frame of mind toward his mother. Presumably, Gertrude is oblivious to all wrongdoing, and should not be blamed as much as Hamlet seems to. All Gertrude is guilty of is being na?ve and foolish to the faults of new husband. He insults her as though she were his uncle; ??at your age the heyday in the blood is tame.?, during Act Three Scene Four, Questioning her love for Claudius, presuming that it wasn?t the sex, as she was too old!
Hamlet was arguably one of the greatest dramatic characters Shakespeare created, and extremely contradictory in his actions, being reckless, but also cautious. A good example of this awareness is when Hamlet is raging about the discovery of his Fathers murder, and is irate for revenge, but also keeps a cool head, by asking his friends not to say a word concerning what they have seen that night. The turning point of Hamlet has got to be when Gertrude marries his uncle. For once, Hamlet loved his mother dearly; this occasion rips the heart of Hamlet, thus the beginning. Shakespeare shows us this in Act One Scene Two; ??.So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a Satyr, so loving to my Mother that he might not beteem the winds of heaven visit her face too roughly?? Hamlet obviously is fantasizing over the past, and cant bear to see his Mother loved, and being loved by another man. This is when his detest for Claudius really begins.
Hamlet?s father?s death affects him deeply. His mood swings are abrupt throughout the play, as he acts mad when hearing of ?foul play?. He says wild and harebrained things during this time; ??Why, right, you are I?th? right. And so without more circumstance at all I hold it fit that we shake hands and part?? In Act One Scene Five.There is obviously a contrast between the two Hamlets. One, is the ideal sensitive prince, and the other is the wild, barbaric madman who slays Polonius with no remorse whatsoever, curses his own mother, and will stop at nothing to avenge his Father?s death. Shakespeare does this to promote a representation of Hamlet, a person who feels so passionately, fervently about his Father and the treason performed against him, that he is willing to sacrifice everything to put it right, literally. Shakespeare?s depiction of Hamlet is a man whose behaviour is inconsistent. A good example of this is his behaviour toward s Ophelia. Firstly, we hear of Ophelia receiving notes from Hamlet, presumably Love letters, but Hamlet denies this. Ophelia is dumbstruck with his profound denial of something which is, quite blatantly, true, He then admits that he did love her, swinging his rudeness to kindness, before absolutely, utterly insulting her with phrases such as, ??.Get thee to a nunnery?? within Act Three Scene One. At the time, this would have been an immense insult to any woman, implicitly calling her a liar, a ?breeder of sins?. He also insults her paintings, saying that God had made it that way, who are you to change it. Inevitably, Ophelia deems that Hamlet is mad. His plan has worked. This is how Shakespeare makes Hamlet appear intensely clever.
Hamlet also jumps into her grave at the end of Act Five Scene One, and fights with Laertes, professing his love for her; ??Forty thousand brothers?.could not, with all their quantity of love?make up my sum?? It is here that Hamlet confesses an interesting twist; Hamlet explains to Laertes that he has ??something in me dangerous, Which let thy wiseness fear.? also within Act Five Scene One. Hamlet has confessed that he is dangerous, which is a great hint toward him becoming actually mad. Deep down, Hamlet is feeling the pains and pressures of this terrible tragedy, and is warning Laertes away, for he might not be in control of himself. Shakespeare has down this to show the strain on Hamlet, and perhaps alter the audience?s perception of the prince, allowing Hamlet to appear more human to them.
However, the audience is not likely to have thought this about Hamlet beforehand. The scene Act Three Scene One, in which he is cruel to Ophelia sets the rest of Hamlets cruelty towards people, women in particular. His outbursts at Gertrude; ? What Devil was?t that thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?? in the course of Act Three Scene Four, and Ophelia; ? I?ll give thee this plague,? is more likely to put the audience off Hamlet. Conversely, this is because Shakespeare is also trying to fool the audience, as well as the obvious, fooling the characters. To make the audience feel that Hamlet is mad, considering that they know that he is acting, is a very hard thing to do. Shakespeare accomplishes this, amazingly. It could be considered that Hamlet goes too far in acting mad, that he could have killed Claudius secretly, without anyone knowing, but he wants to achieve the ultimate in punishments for Claudius; eternal damnation. To kill him while he is at prayer could be a way of avoiding this, and Hamlet does not wish to take this chance. It is here that we see Hamlets cruel side.
Shakespeare sends out many signals to the audience regarding Hamlet, and what they should perceive of Hamlets personality; cold, heartless, clever, warm, considerate, loving? We have, within this play, scenes which depict all of these persona. Act three Scene four is a hint toward Hamlets cold and heartless side, by killing Polonius, without a shred of sorrow or guilt. In fact, he compares this dreadful crime with the acts of his mother, with his uncle; ?A bloody deed- almost as bad??as kill a king and marry his brother.?
It is here that we find out about Gertrude?s innocence of any ?Foul Play? as she repeats Hamlets accusation. Hamlets heart-felt spilling of his emotions, to his mother, causes her so much grief she admits to her stupidity and errors without further ado. This could be a show of Hamlets consideration toward his Mother, or viewed as pure and simple vengeance. Perhaps he genuinely desires his mother to know what he is feeling, to explain why he has been acting so strange recently. Or, perhaps it is to cause his mother more grief and anguish, knowing that she could be the perpetrator of all this trouble.
As mentioned before, there are many scenes in which Hamlet is publicized as clever, but, by far the most interesting scene is Act five Scene two, where Hamlet tells Horatio of his inexorable death escape, switching his death warrant, and bargaining his life with pirates during the ?Sea Battle?.
This impressive acuity from Prince Hamlet is remarkable. How did he know? We have no evidence to suggest how, apart form a lowly instinct, a ?fear?. Somehow, sub-consciously, he knew.
However, Hamlet is not seeking admiration in lieu of his intelligence, almost dismisses it. Whilst avoiding death, he, in the same instance, murders his two past friends, and again, shows no remorse for their impending death; ?They are not near my conscience.? He is also spontaneous, realizing his chance to escape, and grabbing it quickly and deftly. It also has to be admitted, he has to be extremely brave to even endeavor this. From the aspects of Hamlet discussed, we see him as a form of hero; smart, valiant, undaunted.
But still, the audience fail to look upon Hamlet as this. For some reason they prefer to remember the flaws, the disadvantages to this young man.
His madness, which dominates the play excessively could be perceived as either evil, or clever. His malapropism during the play is, however funny, premeditated to deceive, particularly those close to him. His separation, isolation from his other associates causes great stress and misery to the majority, including Gertrude, and Ophelia. It also caused great apprehension and angst for Claudius, as he suspects something right from the beginning. Whether Hamlets plan was to deceive as well as disrupt we shall never know. Conversely, Hamlet did want Claudius to realize he had been found out, he wanted him to be frightened, to be intimidated , in fear for his own life, to be guilty.
As far as warm and considerate is concerned, Hamlet confesses his love for Ophelia when he discovers she has drowned, and, though debatable, he reveals his secret to his mother, seemingly for her own welfare. Perchance Shakespeare intends Hamlet to be considered just and virtuous before the end of the play, by killing the instigator of the dilemmas, Claudius. Claudius, by this time, had already undertaken an evil image, and the audience would have enjoyed the mans comeuppance, therefore making Hamlet the hero. Furthermore, Hamlet lets out a long, deep sigh, conceivably releasing his soul to the heavens?
Soliloquy?s play a major role in this play, and depict another picture of the young prince. They are so intense and momentous that one finds it difficult to translate them. Shakespeare wrote these for Hamlet to let him unleash the passionate side of him. They tell us many stories of him, and are a real challenge to unravel.
Hamlets first soliloquy is during Act one Scene two, and is an essential part of the play. It highlights all his inner feelings and conflict caused by the occurrences in the play. It reveals his true feelings on such events, and emphasizes the difference between his public appearance and his thoughts and attitude towards Claudius. He is extremely over-whelmed by his mothers hasty marriage to his uncle, and respected his father so much, that to see this poor excuse for a man take his place was the utmost of insults. ?My Fathers brother, but no more like my Father than I to Hercules.? One sentence within this short soliloquy sets the incredible torment that Hamlet fails to disregard; his mother sleeping with Claudius. For some reason, Hamlet cannot get out of his head this horrible, repulsive image, and gathers much of his hatred, for both uncle and mother, from this one, solitary, dreadful thought. His constant repetition of the time in which it took the two to get married, ?But two months dead…yet within a month…A little month…Within a month…most wicked speed?, suggests his disgust at the situation and that it is not necessarily the nature of their ?incestuous? relationship that troubles Hamlet; more the short time in which it occurred. In fact, this is especially well communicated to the audience as, throughout the soliloquy, the passage of time that Hamlet describes gets less from ?two months? to ?Within a month?. This has the effect of outlining Hamlet’s supposed contempt of his mother for only mourning a month whilst also highlighting that it is the time involved that is vexing him and not specifically the deed.
In this soliloquy, we also learn about Hamlet’s adoration of his father and how this serves to emphasize the scorn that he shows towards his mother. Hamlet communicates that his father was a divine, almost ‘god-like’ character, ?so excellent a king?, who was ?so loving to my mother?. He also illustrates the contrast between the new king and the old and as such his mother’s choice, ?Hyperion to a satyr?. This example of extreme contrast increases the importance of Hamlet’s father and yet also makes a mockery of Claudius’ character; one which, to this point, the audience could have seen as strong and domineering
When Hamlet says, ?Frailty, thy name is woman?, he is personifying frailty as the entire of the female race. The actions of his mother have lead him to believe that all women are capable of acting in this ?wicked? way and that all women are weak. Alongside the image of his father that is communicated, Hamlet is saying, and therefore feeling, that the people that he could look up to in life have departed and that his entire world has been altered, ?It is not nor it cannot come to good?.
The distressed nature of Hamlet’s mind is also communicated well by the imagery that is used throughout the soliloquy. At the onset, Hamlet says that he wants his ?too too solid flesh? to ?…melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew?. This goes alongside the later lines, ?How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world?, where the build up of adjectives, one after the other, serves to highlight just how difficult it is for Hamlet to live in the world. It is as if Hamlet cannot deal with or, indeed, stand the physical side of life anymore; he needs to get rid of his body to be able to deal with the inner conflict going on in his head. The poetry of these lines and the image that is expressed serve to reveal not only the tragic nature of his problem, also highlighted by his allusions to suicide, but also create a link between him and the audience. In fact, the entire soliloquy establishes a connection between the audience and Hamlet, a concept that is essential in the play. Another good example of imagery in the soliloquy is that of the ?unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank…in nature?. This image represents the something that is ?…rotten in the state of Denmark?. It is a simile for the state of his society, as in it used to be nice but now is ?gross?. The language of the description also emphasizes this as it suggests images of things that are unprofitable and nasty. These images all serve to highlight Hamlet’s impressions of the society that the audience are only just forming theirs upon; therefore, leading to a bias towards the character of Hamlet. Therefore, this soliloquy is successful in communicating the emotional state of Hamlet to the audience because it reveals the true nature of Hamlet’s feelings; not only through the diction but also through the imagery, language and connotation of the text. It successfully highlights the divisions of character of Hamlet whilst aiding the audience in building a connection with him.
This soliloquy is the most important out of all of them, and really sets the tone for the play, a form of introduction for the audience, a narrator. This is a selection of ways that Shakespeare shapes the character of Hamlet for the pleasure of the audience, and, in my opinion, the most effective.
Overall, Hamlet is a man of mystery. What goes on in his mind is extremely hard to follow, considering his split personality during the play. But Shakespeare manages to keep the audience interested, and provides a number of interesting revelations and happenings throughout, to mould the character. Every soliloquy, every mad comment, every thought is a hint at what Hamlet is going through, and one must pay a great deal of attention towards these, in order to understand what he is trying to achieve.
However many arguments there are about what Hamlets actions are really are intended to accomplish, Shakespeare gives me the impression of a hurt, betrayed, clever young man, unable to reach out to anyone for help, and looking to avenge his fathers death no matter what the cost. Unfortunately, Hamlet achieves his goal, with dire consequences.