Agony Of A Sensitive Man Essay, Research Paper
Agony of a Sensitive Man
Shakespeare is arguably the greatest playwright that ever lived. His plays are the most studied works in the literary world. The classics like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Othello are loved so much for the characters that they present. Shakespeare makes his characters very complex. His character development is as widely studied as are his plays. Who can forget the love of Romeo, the jealously of Othello, the treachery of Brutus, and the torment of Hamlet. In Shakespeare s masterpiece Hamlet, Hamlet is overcome by a physiological downfall. Hamlet was a sensitive man who was destroyed by a corrupt environment. Hamlet s dead father, the deeds of his uncle and mother, and the amount of death caused the corruption of Hamlet.
First of all, the loss of any close family member is very traumatic. Hamlet is not immune to such effects. In the first of Hamlet s soliloquies, Hamlet cries “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on t! ah fie! tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely” (III. ii. 134-137). It is obvious that this is a window to Hamlet s tortured soul. This is only the beginning of the end for Hamlet. In Act I. Scene iv. Hamlet confronts the spirit of his dead father. This is also disturbing to Hamlet. John S. Wilks writes in J. Leeds Barroll s Shakespeare Studies how meeting the ghost of his father ” throws his conscience into doubt and error, must naturally begin with the malign source of that confusion, the Ghost” (119). Hamlet is also incensed when he learns the reason for his father s torture. Old Hamlet was murdered by his brother when he was sleeping. This leaves Old Hamlet walking in limbo for his afterlife. After learning this, Hamlet decrees “O all you host of heaven! O Earth! What else? And shall I couple hell?” (I. v. 92-93). Also knowing that his father was miserable in the afterlife weighed heavily on Hamlet s mind (Knight 20). Clearly, the death of his father and speaking to the ghost of his father started the corruption of Hamlet.
The deeds of his uncle and his mother are also contributing factors to the corruption of the main character. Most importantly, Hamlet s uncle Claudius is the main reason for all of Hamlet s woes. Claudius kills Hamlet s father and marries his mother. This is too much for Hamlet to take. His environment is crumbling around him. One scholar writes “Whatever is wrong is wrong with Hamlet s entire world Not everyone is a prince in the midst of such parental decay .” (Skura 89). In act III scene iii, Claudius is praying for forgiveness. Unknowingly to Claudius, Hamlet is in the room also. Hamlet does not kill him because he wants to kill Claudius at a better time. This may be the point where Hamlet is totally consumed by revenge. Knight writes “the late joy of torturing the King s conscience still written on his face, his eye a-glitter with the intoxication of conquest, vengeance in his mind; his purpose altered only by the devilish hope of finding a more damning moment in which to slaughter the King “(39). Hamlet is also disgusted with his mother for the fact that she married Claudius so soon after Old Hamlet s death. In the Queen s room, Hamlet chastises his mother by saying “Mother, you have my father much offended” (III. iv. 9). Indeed, the actions of Hamlet s parents are very distressful and helped the corruption of Hamlet.
The various deaths that occurred in the duration play most definitely attributed to the downfall of Hamlet. First, the death of Hamlet s father starts Hamlet down the road of mental corruption. Knight feels “The horror of humanity doomed to death and decay has disintegrated Hamlet s mind. From the first scene to last shadow of Death broods over this play” (31). Secondly, Hamlet kills Polonius by accident, but this seems to have no affect on Hamlet. After Polonius dies, Hamlet states “A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother, As kill a king, and marry with his brother” (III. iv. 28-29). This is not the reaction on any sane man after he accidentally killed a man. The death of Ophelia hurts Hamlet greatly. Hamlet loves her. Her death must have caused Hamlet great emotional stress. After a fight with Laertes in Ophelia s grave Hamlet states “Be buried quick with her, and so will I: and if thou prate of mountains, let them throw Millions of acres on us..” (252-254). His words and his fight with Laertes show how much he really cared for Ophelia. Death is used through out the play as one of the many things that breaks down Hamlet in to the shell of a human being that he becomes.
The corruption of Hamlet can be attributed to the ghost of Hamlet s father, the actions of his mother and uncle and the many deaths that occur in this play. Hamlet is a sensitive man who could not take all trauma of all the events that happened in his life. His corruption was the only way for him to escape the tribulations he faced.
Thesis: Hamlet s dead father, the deeds of Hamlet s uncle and mother, and the amount of death caused the corruption of Hamlet.
A. Loss of father
B. Murder of father
C. suffering of father
A. Claudius kills
B. Mother marries
A. Father s death
B. Polonius Death
C. Ophelia s death
Knight, G. Wilson. The Wheel of Fire. London: Oxford University Press, 1930.
Mack, Maynard, et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Sixth ed.
Vol 2. New York: Norton, 1992.
Skura, Meredith Anne. “Hamlet and Psychoanalysis” Shakespeare: The Tragedies. Ed.
Robert B. Heilman. Englewood Cliffs: MLA, 1984. 84-93.
Wliks, John S. “The discourse of Reason: Justice and the Erroneous Conscience in
Hamlet. Shakespeare Studies. Vol XVIII. Ed. J. Leeds Barroll. New York:
MLA, 1986. 117-144.