Hamlet: Growing Pains

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Hamlet: Growing Pains

In the epic tragedy Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Prince Hamlet is entrapped in a world of evil that is not of his own creation. He must oppose this evil, which permeates his seemingly star-struck life from many angles. His dealings with his father's eerie death cause Hamlet to grow up fast. His family, his sweetheart, and his school friends all appear to turn against him and to ally themselves with the evil predicament in which Hamlet finds himself. Hamlet makes multiple attempts to avenge his father's murder, but each fails because his father's murder, but each fails because his plans are marred by very human shortcomings. It is these shortcomings that Hamlet is a symbol of ordinary humanity and give him the room he needs to grow.

The Hamlet that Shakespeare begins to develop in Act I is a typical mortal, bowed down by his human infirmities and by a disgust of the evils in a world which has led him to the brink of suicide. Hamlet voices his thoughts on the issue: ‘O that this too too solid flesh would melt...' (I. ii. 135). He is prevented from this drastic step only by a faith which teaches him that God has ‘fix'd/ His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter' (I. ii. 131-2). To Hamlet appears his dead father's spirit, and he must continue to live in the ‘unweeded garden, / That grows to seed' in order to fulfill the obligation he has to his father (I.ii. 135-6).

Making Hamlet more a story of personal growth than a dark murder mystery, Shakespeare emphasizes the emotional, rather than the physical, obstacles that Prince must face in accomplishing his goal. Immediately, Hamlet must determine whether the ghost speaks the truth, and to do so he must cope with theological issues. He must settle the moral issue of private revenge. He must learn to live in a world in which corruption could be as near as the person who gave birth to him. He also must control the human passions within him which are always threatening his plans....
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