Hamlet Feelings Essay Research Paper Everyone contains

Hamlet Feelings Essay, Research Paper Everyone contains a tinge of Hamlet in his feelings, wants, and worries, and proudly so, for Hamlet is not like the other tragic heroes of his period. He

Hamlet Feelings Essay, Research Paper

Everyone contains a tinge of Hamlet in his feelings, wants, and worries, and

proudly so, for Hamlet is not like the other tragic heroes of his period. He

stands apart from other Shakespeare’s heroes in his today much discussed

innocence. Is this supposed tragic hero maybe an ideal hero – one without the

tragic flaw, which has been a part of the formula for the tragedy since the

Golden age of Greece?; is a question that has been the field for many literary

critics’ battles. The main, and, most often, the only flaw that has been

attributed to Hamlet is his delay. This seems to constitute the central part in

Hamlet. Critics seem to cling to this detail, as if trying to save the status of

Hamlet as a typical Elizabethan tragedy of revenge. By the definition of

tragedy, there should exist a flaw in the character of the main hero, who is a

great personality that is engaged in a struggle that ends catastrophically

(Stratford, 90). If Hamlet had no flaw, what kind of tragic hero is he? No

doubt, Hamlet is a tragical drama, for it has many characters "from the

top" ending up losing their lives. But the play wouldn’t lose its tragic

tone if Hamlet was a an ideal hero instead of tragic one, which is exactly the

case. If just all critic realized this, maybe today we wouldn’t have that much

trouble trying to "decipher" Hamlet’s character, just like Elizabethan

audience never raised any questions concerning Hamlet’s delay. It was only in

the last two centuries, that the audience and their perceptions have drastically

changed, which causes this confusion concerning the character that was created

by Shakespeare for common people, some ignorant ones among them, perhaps. Hamlet

is like a soldier that is thrown into a war where he has to do some things he

rather would avoid doing, but under the given circumstances he bites his teeth

and carries himself well (Stratford, 128). In this war, the circumstances

brought on by Claudius’s murdering of King Hamlet are Hamlet’s enemy. His dead

father is the destroyed country, painful truth which leaves so much hatred and

resentment in his heart. Being a loyal prince and son, and one whom entire

kingdom respected, he should seek revenge and bring justice back in the royal

court. The whole play would be very simple if this murdered was an open

assassination. But no, Shakespeare made sure that this assassination was secret,

that no one, except maybe Claudius, knew about it. This puts in a completely

different context the play that was written by Thomas Kyd, a play titled

Ur-Hamlet, which Shakespeare used as a basis for his Hamlet (Grebanier,

111).This way, Shakespeare accomplished very different development of action,

and ultimately one of the best plays in the history. Along with that,

Shakespeare created disagreement concerning reasons why Hamlet waited so long

before killing Claudius. A careful reader can notice that more than two months

pass between Hamlet being told by the Ghost about the evil deed, and Hamlet

following through his plan. One can argue that from this follows that Hamlet

procrastinated, having that one flaw – being passive, not daring to act. But

Shakespeare never payed attention to this time interval. An audience wasn’t

aware of it, because Shakespeare didn’t want it to be – the rather large time

interval was of no consequence, and truly one cannot notice this without a

conscious calculation (Grebanier, 179). More critics, especially during

popularity of Freud, have tried to explain Hamlet’s delay exclusively from

psychological point of view. But how can one psychologically analyze a character

that doesn’t exist in physical world; whose existence is dependent merely on his

actions and reactions to the events and other characters from play? J. Dover

Wilson summarized it by saying that Hamlet is a "character in a play, not

in history" (Weitz, 107). From the point of view of these critics, it

follows that character preceded the plot, thus shaping it for its needs. But

Shakespeare, not to mention all the other play writers, followed Aristotelian

view that drama is imitation of life, of the actions of man. Plot is a way to

organize the action, and thus, plot precedes character in Hamlet (Grebanier,

108). This, without even knowing Aristotelian method, can also be deduced from

knowing that Shakespeare adopted plot of Ur-Hamlet, and changed it just

slightly. A slight change in the plot, however, hardly slightly affects the

characters. But one should notice that "preceding" means "comes

before the other one", and it does not mean "eliminates the

other." Therefore, the cause of Hamlet’s fall cannot be ascribed

exclusively to the situation. That would mean eliminating every element of

tragedy, and even drama, from Hamlet – Hamlet would thus have become a mere

collection of fate-dependent events that accidentally so happened not to have a

happy ending. So, the reasons for Hamlet’s actions should be understood as a

synthesis of original situation, Hamlet’s reactions to it, and then again of

situation that was affected by Hamlet’s reactions. Looking at Hamlet’s

reactions, one detail cannot be overlooked: Hamlet does not kill Claudius in

church, while he has the best chance of doing so up until that point. This

little detail, and it is really a little detail, for if it was more important,

Shakespeare would have dedicated to it more then some 100 lines, tends to affect

the reader’s evaluation of Hamlet’s delay. Why didn’t he kill the King?

Understanding this scene is crucial today in understanding Hamlet’s delay, for

we seem to be puzzled by it (if we were in the audience, the whole scene would

have lasted only moments, but as readers, we have the freedom to ponder about

it). At least so was Professor Dowden, to name one critic, who holds that Hamlet

"loses a sense of fact" because he puts every event through his mind,

filtering it until every deed seems to have an alternative – in not doing the

deed, but evaluating it even more (Bloom, 66). Coleridge and Goethe would agree

with this, holding that Hamlet’s soul is too philosophical and it lacks ability

to instinctually act on impulse, and that he is "too sensitive to avenge

himself" (Grebanier, 159). But if one only reads what goes on in the play,

Hamlet could by no means be called too sensitive or passive. After the Ghost

appears, he ignores the fears of his friends, is strong enough to break off

their restraining hold, and follows the ghastly apparition. In the Queen’s

closet he follows his impulse and puts his sword to action. In the battle with

the pirate ship, he manages to win over the whole crew without anyone’s help. He

is known in the kingdom as a brilliant fencer, and shows his skill in the match

with Laertes, after which he is able to cut the king and take the glass of

poison from Horatio’s hand, all that while dying of deadly poison. What then is

the reason for his delay of action? Did Shakespeare make it on purpose so that

he can fill the five long acts? (Grebanier, 115).Hamlet is very brave and

impulsive Prince, but the plot seems to prevent him from finding an

"external model or a simple solution for conduct," so that he must

depend more on thinking, and less on acting (Stratford, 105). He realizes that

killing a King is a great crime. In seventeenth century, kings have divinity

about them, and hurting a king from that period cannot compare to hurting a

politician today. The proof of this is in the last scene – even after Laertes

speaks out and lets everyone that was present know that the match and poison

were only King’s plan, the crowd yells, as if having an instinct to defend their

King: "Treason! Treason!" (Shakespeare, 27). Even if it wasn’t that

punishable to assassinate the King, Hamlet would still not kill him in the

church. He might have taken the sword out, but one thing then went through his

mind: " If King is murdered, the truth is murdered too, and King Hamlet’s

assassination would be impossible to prove". His aim is not to kill the

King and get the throne. He is primarily concerned with punishing the murderer

of his father, punishing him under the shelter of justice (Grebanier, 111-113).

So, Hamlet does delay, according to Stoll, but with purpose to create his deed

momentous when the right moment comes. This is what’s behind his

"procrastination" in the church. Until he has the proof, he must be

patient. His words in church, then, are not at all excuse for delay when he says

that he must wait for King to be in act that "has no relish of salvation

in’t" (1). Rather, he speaks to himself in attempt to force himself not to

use violence, but to be patient. So, instead of showing a flaw in the church,

Hamlet shows virtue, his prudent patience. He is now absolutely determined in

his plan and all of his actions are directed towards one accomplishment – to

justly punish the one who murdered his father. The proof of this is in the last

scene when he orders Horatio to let everyone know the truth, and what went on in

the kingdom in the last two months. Hamlet is the only Shakespeare’s tragic hero

who doesn’t have a tragic flaw, which makes him an ideal hero, instead a tragic

one. Hamlet the play still is the revenge tragedy, for Hamlet never lived to see

the full revenge. OUTLINE I. Introduction II. Hamlet’s Delay 1. The situation of

the play that that surrounds Hamlet 2. Ur-Hamlet as a basis of Hamlet 3. Two

months delay question 4. Psychological only interpretation of Hamlet 5.

Aristotelian definitions of drama 6. Hamlet actions as a synthesis of character

and plot 7. The scene in church – most importatnt for the notion of delay 8.

Delay because Hamlet is passive and too emotional 9. Murdering the King is

murdering the proof 10. Virtue of patience rather than procrastination flaw III.

Conclusion

1. Hamlet. The Norton Introduction to Literature, Shorter 6th Edition,

editors Bain, Beaty, Hunter, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1995. 2. Weitz,

Morris. Hamlet and the Philosophy of Literary Criticism. Chicago: University of

Chicago, 1964. 3. Hamlet. Stratford-Upon-Avon Study. London: Edward Arnold Ltd.,

1963. 4. Grebanier, Bernard. The Heart of Hamlet, The Play Shakespeare Wrote.

New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1960. 5. Hamlet. Editor Harold Bloom.New

York: Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Maine Line Book Co., 1990.

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