Hamlet Essay, Research Paper
Disillusionment. Depression. Despair. These are the burning emotions churning in young Hamlet’s soul as he attempts to come to terms with his father’s death and his mother’s incestuous, illicit marriage. When Hamlet tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered idealism, he consciously embarks on a quest to seek the hidden truth. Hamlet is faced with the fact that he has to avenge the murder of his father. Contrary to the fact that Hamlet delays his revenge and acts insane, he proves that he is fit for his task by his intelligent and rational thinking.
Hamlet shows a remarkable amount of intelligence, consciousness, as well as rational decision-making in efforts to resolve his situation. Nearly all of Hamlet?s actions, with the exception of his outburst at Ophelia?s grave, were preplanned and precisely calculated. His inborn thought process prolonged his revenge, and while Hamlet may have appeared listless with inaction, the wheels in his mind never stopped turning. Hamlet’s actions in the play after meeting the ghost lead everyone except Horatio to believe he is crazy, yet that madness is continuously checked by an ever-present consciousness of action which never lets him lose control. First, he had to prove that the ghost was actually telling the truth, and he did this by staging the play ?The Mousetrap? at court. For example, Hamlet questions his conduct in his soliloquy at the end of II.ii, but after careful consideration decides to go with his instinct and prove to himself without a doubt of the King’s guilt before proceeding with his plan. The proof that Hamlet requires does not defer from the role that he is supposed to play. It becomes intriguing that Hamlet’s uncle is to be judged upon how he acts during the play. If Claudius is a consummate actor and does not reveal his guilt, his life will be spared. Yet, Claudius is a poor actor, and when he rises during the play Hamlet reacts with “What, frighted with false fire?” (III.2 241). It is as if Hamlet is saying ‘it’s only a play, it is not real’. Hamlet does mention something to this effect with his previous lines “Your majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not” ( III.2. 219). This proof drives Hamlet to more words, this time referring to killing in this quote.
?Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world. Now I could drink hot blood?
The soul of Negro enter the firl boso,.
Let me cruel, not unnatural:
I will speak daggers to her but use none.
My tongue and sould in thisbe hypocritrs,
How in my own words somever she be shent
To give them seals never my sould consent (III.2 349-360).
In looking at this scene one can see that Hamlet carefully planned this whole play out by planning everything out one by one. In order for him to seek revenge he needs to be sure that his uncle is the murderer in order to plan his next move.
Hamlet ?insanity? is bought upon by careful calculation and gives him a chance to show his intent. Horatio offers an insightful warning giving Hamlet the idea:
What if it tempts you toward the flood,
my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff That beetles o’er his base into the sea, And there assume some other horrible form Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason, And draw you into madness? Think of it. (I.iv.69-74)
Horatio’s comment may be where Hamlet gets the idea to use a plea of insanity to work out his plan. Hamlet?s insanity has been the key question through out the play because as the play proceeds, Hamlet displays two conflicting mannerism: One that is perfectly perfect calm and rational person; and another, which displays madness. Hamlet’s sanity is clarified in the first act by statements and feelings expressed within his dialogue. When asked about his depressed appearance and demeanor by Gertrude, Hamlet replies, “Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems” (1037, line 76). This relates the idea that Hamlet is ‘what he appears to be’. Later, he clearly makes a statement about his mental health when he commits himself to avenge his father’s murder. This quote allows the reader to follow Hamlet’s train of thought in regards to his role as student, mourning son, and Prince to the throne:
? I?ll wipe away all trivial fond records, all saws of books, all forms
all forms, all pressures past That youth and observation copied there
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain ( 1054,line 100)
Hamlet is stating his utmost commitment to nothing short of revenge of his father?s death. At this juncture in the play, there is little doubt about his state of mind, or intentions. However, the next act belies Hamlet’s sanity and reason.
In act two, Hamlet appears again; although it now becomes apparent he has lost the conviction he demonstrated earlier-to complete his destiny as prescribed by the ghost of his father. During this act, Hamlet spends most of his time reading and talking with Polonius, Guildenstern, Rosencrantz, and the players. Not until the very end of this second act, does Hamlet refer to his filial duty to avenge his father. Instead of carrying out the destiny described by his fathers spirit-role of the vengeful son, Hamlet exhibits insane behaviors. Hamlet then admits he is merely feigning insanity with, “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw” (II.2 347-348). Admitting he is only acting “mad? implies he is secure with his plot. Hamlet also seems to portray a willingness to accept this plight with, “…for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so…” (II.2 239-240). In this instance, Hamlet is stating that behavior shapes reality.
In act two, Hamlet is again prompted towards vengeance, this time by a poignant speech delivered by one of the players. Hamlet responds to this dialogue with, “What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do Had he motive and cue for passion That I have?” (II.2. 510-514). In this complement to this player’s acting ability, Hamlet is saying that if he were such an actor he would have killed Claudius by now. Therein, lies the struggle between acting, and actual vengeance, that persists throughout the play until the very end. At this moment, Hamlet avows to avenge his father, “I should ha’ fatted all the region kites With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain! O, vengeance! What an ass am I! This is most brave, That I, the son of a dear father murdered, Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell…” (II.2. 531-537). Later, when Hamlet sees the ghost again in his mother?s room, her amazement at his madness is quite convincing.
? A king of shreds and patches
save me hover o?er me with your wings
You heavenly guards-what would your gracious figure?
? Alas he?s mad!
? Do you not come your tardy son to chide
That lapsed in time and passion lets go by
Th? important acting of your dread command? Oh say! (III.v. 103-108)
One must take into consideration the careful planning that went into acting this scene where one would believe that Hamlet has gone mad and is incapable of doing no revenge because of his turmoil he has been through from learning about his fathers death, seeing the ghost of his father. These situations are enough to bring Hamlet to insanity, but he remains sharp and credible.
Hamlet is like a soldier that is thrown into a war where he has to do something he rather would avoid . One can argue that Hamlet procrastinates in taking revenge for his fathers death, that his one flaw is being passive, not daring to act. Hamlet represents a man with great honor and morals. Hamlet is a man of great man of great sensitivity and morality, and violating his personal beliefs would tear him apart. Hamlet does not delay the revenge for the fun of it. The reason for the delay was because Hamlet had not internally decided what side of him will take control, his revengeful side or his moralistic and humane side. Hamlet is a man of action whose task is to bring Claudius to confession, to unmask and convict him, rather to kill him. Hamlet could have killed Claudius while he was confessing to god. If Hamlet had done it here then Claudius would have gone to heaven because he confessed while Hamlet?s father was in purgatory because he did not get the opportunity to confess:
? Now might I do it pat, now a is a praying,
And now I?ll do?t-and so a goes to heaven,
And so am I revenged. That would be scanned.
A villain kills my father, and for that
I sole son do this same villain send
Tis heavy with him. And I am then revenged
To take him on the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and seasones for this passage?
No. (III.3. 73-87)
So Hamlet therefore decided not to murder Claudius at this point in the play. Hamlet?s words in church were not at all excuse for his delay when he says that he must wait for king to be in act therefore he tries to speak himself out of violence, but to be patient. So, instead of showing flaw in the church, Hamlet shows virtue. The other delay was the fact that he got side tracked. He accidentally killed Polonius, which created a whole new problem with the fact that Laertes now wanted Hamlet dead. After he commits this murder he was also sent off and unable to see the king for another few weeks until he could finally do the job. Hamlet shows his bravery in the last scene-even after Laertes speaks out and tells everyone that was present know that the match and poison were only the kings plan.
? It is here Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain,
No medicine in the world can do thee good,
In thee there is not half an hour of life
The treacherous instrument is in they hand,
Unbated and envenomed. The foul practice
Hath turned itself on me;lo,I lie,
Never to rise again. Thy mother?s poisoned
I can no more-the King, the king?s to blame?
? Treason, treason!? (V.2.293-092)
In looking in this quote Hamlet got his revenge because his aim was not to kill the King and get the throne but his primary concern was merely to unmask him in front of a large group. Hamlet?s purpose for the delay was to do it at the right moment in time and which he did.
In conclusion, Hamlet knew exactly what he was doing throughout the play he was very well capable of committing the revenge but wanted to do it in the right moment in time and knowing the truth for sure. He was very intelligent and planned everything just right with his philosophical language and his ability to fool the crowd about in insanity in order to find truth. In all, Hamlet was very well fit for his task and he accomplished it very well.