Hamlet's Dilemma

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The Elizabethan play The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarkis one of William Shakespeare's most popular works. One of thepossible reasons for this play's popularity is the way Shakespeareuses the character Hamlet to exemplify the complex workings of thehuman mind. The approach taken by Shakespeare in Hamlet has generatedcountless different interpretations of meaning, but it is throughHamlet's struggle to confront his internal dilemma, deciding when torevenge his fathers death, that the reader becomes aware of one of themore common interpretations in Hamlet; the idea that Shakespeare isattempting to comment on the influence that one's state of mind canhave on the decisions they make in life.As the play unfolds, Shakespeare uses the encounters thatHamlet must face to demonstrate the effect that one's perspective canhave on the way the mind works. In his book Some Shakespeare Themes &An Approach to Hamlet, L.C. Knight takes notice of Shakespeare's useof these encounters to journey into the workings of the human mindwhen he writes:What we have in Hamlet.is the exploration and implicitcriticism of a particular state of mind or consciousness.InHamlet, Shakespeare uses a series of encounters to reveal thecomplex state of the human mind, made up of reason, emotion,and attitude towards the self, to allow the reader to make ajudgment or form an opinion about fundamental aspects of humanlife. (192)Shakespeare sets the stage for Hamlet's internal dilemma inAct 1, Scene 5 of Hamlet when the ghost of Hamlet's father appears andcalls upon Hamlet to "revenge his foul and most unnatural murder"(1.5.24). It is from this point forward that Hamlet must strugglewith the dilemma of whether or not to kill Claudius, his uncle, and ifso when to actually do it. As the play progresses, Hamlet does notseek his revenge when the opportunity presents itself, and it is thereasoning that Hamlet uses to justify his delay that becomes paramountto the reader's understanding of the effect that...
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