A Victim Of Circumstance Still With A

Choice To Act Upon It A Characterization Essay About Hamlet Essay, Research Paper

In HAMLET, a tragic play written by William Shakespeare, Hamlet, the main and most controversial character, will have readers looking more deeply into their inner self to examine their habitual ways. Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s self-pitying and self-centered character as an instrument that instructs the reader to evaluate his or her own interaction and communication with people. When life-threatening choices confront Hamlet, his actions, attitude, perception of reality, and speech illustrate how self-centered he is.

Throughout the play, Hamlet is confronted with three sickening and hard situations. He is forced to make decisions that will affect himself and everyone who is circling ’round him and his so-called madness. One of the first conflicts the reader is presented with is Presented with is the “increase of appetite” in Gertrude’s sexual drive, or rather the incestuous marriage between Gertrude and Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, which is a lot for the son of the murdered King to deal with (I.2.148). This is quickly followed by Hamlet finding out that if he doesn’t “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder,” or rather that Claudius was the one who killed Late Hamlet his Dad will be “Doomed for a certain term to walk the night” (I.5.31, I.5.15). And not only is this information presented to Hamlet, but by a Ghost representing his father, which might cause him to think he’s going mad. Lastly, Hamlet’s one love, Ophelia disregards Hamlet’s love for her showing the actual written proof of love, the love letters, to her father. This causes other characters in the play to believe that Hamlet’s madness is derived from the fact that Ophelia has disregarded his love for her.

In the beginning of the play, Hamlet still has a clean slate, because he hasn’t made a choice yet of what to do about what he’s been confronted with. The readers still feel sympathy for him, because of the incestuous marriage ordeal. Hamlet has the choice to tell the authorities what he heard from the Ghost. He could have received justice for what had been done, with no one being hurt, and still received plenty of sympathy from the townspeople. Instead, he takes the selfish, and most often taken path, when he takes matters into his own hands.

“I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” (402-403). It’s all an act and Hamlet is not insane. Those who are truly insane don’t proclaim it all the time. He is simply acting in the same fashion that everyone else is. Yes, it was fate for these situations to occur in Hamlet’s life, but he does have a choice in how he handles them. Before he found out about Claudius being a murderer, Hamlet gave the speech that began with “O, that this too, too sullied flesh ” when he was interrupted by Horatio and Marcellus, and like a robot switched gears to being in a totally fine mood, by responding “I am glad to see you well” (I.2.133, I.2.166). Already, he is putting on an act! Also, Claudius often addresses Hamlet in a fake manner, such as “Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet” although we know that Claudius dislikes Hamlet very much (I.2. 90-91). In addition, when Gertrude and Claudius ask Hamlet’s good friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to talk with Hamlet to see how he is really doing, they, too, are being actors. They need to get the truth out of him to try to find out the core of his madness. But, being good friends they tell him “we were sent for,” and this is the moment that Hamlet surely knows that he is being acted upon (II.2.315). It causes Hamlet to think he is going even crazier. He thought he was the smartest– the only one acting. The example that most clearly illustrates this entire acting business is when Claudius and Polonius ask Ophelia if she’ll wait in the courtyard ’til Hamlet comes round so that they can listen in on the conversation. Ophelia, the only one who Hamlet trusts, is also acting! Also when Hamlet declares “I did love you once,” and “Get thee to a nunnery” also proves that Hamlet is acting. Real love, like the kind he has for Ophelia, simply does not disappear (III.1.129, III.1.31). He is simply trying to get Ophelia to feel guilty, and come back to him.

Hamlet has a pattern throughout the play of trying to get people to feel sorry for him. His motivations are: to make himself at ease, to see Claudius go to hell, to ensure his happiness at the expense of others, to ensure everyone knows how bad he has it, and to play the victim role. Throughout the rest of the play, while plotting Claudius’ revenge, Hamlet wants sympathy from everyone for his self-inflicted hardships. Exclaiming “O, my prophetic soul!” when the Ghost tells him the murder story, Hamlet decides not to take revenge for his father (I.5. 48). Instead, he takes revenge for his own personal satisfaction, for his soul, not considering how it would affect others. He could’ve easily told the authorities that Claudius murdered his father, the Late Hamlet. Instead, he took matters into his own hands, threatening Horatio and Marcellus to “swear’t” that they had not seen nor heard of the Ghost who gave him this vital information (I.5.162). Hamlet reveals that the Claudius killed his father, but instead mopes around like a madman, drawing plenty of attention to himself. Hamlet simply goes about getting sympathy the wrong way.

Shakespeare’s purpose for creating Hamlet is to evoke the reader to think about his or her own actions. Hamlet is a victim of circumstance who has chosen the road most often taken. Shakespeare clearly conveys the selfishness of Hamlet, asking the reader to look at the way they act, before judging Hamlet. The tragic flaw that Hamlet possesses is common among many people. Although not usually tragic, many people strive each day for the maximum amount of attention they can receive, and usually at the expense of others.


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