Introduction to Literature
30th December 2011
In his play “Hamlet-The prince of Denmark”, Shakespeare gives literature one of its most complex and enigmatic characters: Prince Hamlet. His greatness and complexity lies in the fact that he is a multidimensional character, who has a plethora of facets to him. He seems to possess contradictory characteristics, which often pull him in opposite directions and thus determine the course of his action. Hamlet embodies a struggle within him, between a side that wants to unleash the fury of his father’s murder and depart from the path of moral righteousness to avenge his dead father, and the side that represents his moral sense that inhibits his action due to the fear of its eternal consequences. The fragmentation within Hamlet’s personality is clear from the fact that it reflects the personalities of the other characters in the play. As Marjorie Garber says in her book ‘Shakespeare after all’: “The technique of “splitting”, producing several versions of a character type split into component aspects, is one of the most effective devices of Hamlet, and will culminate in Hamlet’s dying recognition that all his rivals and friends are in some ways aspects of himself.” Thus, while on one hand, some aspects of Hamlet’s character are reminiscent of his foe, Claudius, a cunning strategist, on the other hand, there is a Horatio within him, who possesses the faculty to distinguish between right and wrong, and is thus the voice of moral righteousness. This is mirrored in the inner dichotomy that Hamlet has to deal with, that of Hamlet, the ruthless strategist who is capable of employing deceit and Hamlet, the human, with an inclination against any evil, damnable act. This essay will prove how Hamlet possesses the characteristics of a Machiavellian hero yet his conscience prevents this side of him from completely manifesting his personality and these conflicting forces within him...