Hamlet 18 Essay, Research Paper
Through Hamlet’s own hesitation, paranoia, and desire to gain revenge, he inadvertently sets himself up for the tragic events that conclude the Shakespearean play Hamlet. On account of his active participation, and at the same time ignorance, his efforts to serve justice are a failure. Three of his faults are how he deals with: his father’s death, his mother’s marriage, and Ophelia’s love.
At the beginning of the play, Hamlet is already extremely depressed and has been mourning his father’s death in his “inky cloak” for an excessive period of time. He obviously had very strong love for his father – “He was a man, take him for all in all: I shall not look upon his like again.” – and is having a difficult time dealing with his death. Then, in his misery, he also has to deal with his mother’s marriage “of most wicked speed to incestuous sheets.” He expresses his frustration and confusion during his soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 2 after the new King’s announcement to his people.
Horatio then arrives to tell Hamlet of the ‘apparition’ that was seen the night before. A figure resembling the Old Hamlet – “these hands are not more like” – appeared outside the castle. This presents concern for Hamlet because he feels that there has been some ‘foul play’ to cause the appearance of this spirit. In Kenneth Branagh’s movie production, Hamlet begins to look through a book about demons. This suggests that Hamlet presumes something unpleasant has taken place. Hamlet insists that he sees this ghost and accompanies Horatio and Marcellus on their watch. The ghost presents itself again and Hamlet follows it where it proceeds to make known to Hamlet the evil act of murder that has been committed by Claudius. Hamlet then swears to avenge his father’s death and forget everything else – “from the table of my memory I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records.”
Hamlet becomes so obsessed with this idea that he leads himself into madness and paranoia. He separates himself from everything else, even his own feelings. Up until this point in the play Hamlet has displayed a great amount of affection for Ophelia. Previously, he had been sending her many letters and tokens of affection. Ophelia “sucked the honey of his music vows” and returned his seeming-to-be-honest affections. Polonius finds out about this affair and orders his daughter to cease the relationship. Ophelia does so against her will. However, Hamlet, becoming so wrapped up in his plans for revenge, has put on an antic disposition and frightens Ophelia. Ophelia feels that she is the cause of his madness because she denied him.
Hamlet also feels betrayed by his mother. She married Claudius just a short time after her husband, whom she supposedly loved eternally, died. Hamlet feels that love is hopeless now and it does not really exist how he always thought it to be. He has become misogynous and wants nothing to do with Ophelia. When Ophelia confronts him and returns his gifts saying, “Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind,” Hamlet becomes even more upset and he begins to mock womankind. Ophelia feels responsible for his ‘madness’ and also heartbroken because she has lost her love.
Hamlet’s excitement rises as he finds out the King is guilty at the ‘play’. The King’s response to Hamlet’s reenactment of the murder was exactly what he had anticipated. Hamlet has become so paranoid and anxious that he kills Polonius on impulse in his mother’s ‘closet’. This sends Ophelia straight to her own death. She just could not deal with the responsibility of Hamlet’s madness and the fact that the man she loved so dearly murdered her beloved father.
Throughout and as a result of all this confusion, Hamlet’s madness has increased perhaps to the point where he is not sane at all. He became so concerned and obsessed with revenge that he disregarded anything that ever mattered to him. Thus, he lost the love of his life through his own ignorance and impulsive actions. He only realizes this after her death but somehow thinks he must continue on this path of determination. Also, as a result of his hesitation many deaths occur that may have been prevented otherwise. He wanted everything to be just right so in fact justice would be served. However, this was not the end result. Hamlet is ‘to be’ no more.