Dr. Michael S. Mills
28 October 2010
Hamlet and Willy Loman
Willy Loman and Hamlet are both considered to be tragic figures. Hamlet, who is a rich young prince of Denmark, suddenly has his joyous life ripped away from him when his father suddenly passes away. He later finds out, through his father’s ghost, that he was murdered by his step-father, and also Uncle, Claudius. He is indecisive and hesitant at times and at other times he is prone to rash, impulsive acts. Willy Loman is a traveling salesman who considered himself to be a powerful man. He is delirious and contradictory. His life unravels before him after he loses his job and the respect of those around him. Hamlet and Willy both lose everything in pursuit of an unattainable sense of justice and dignity. In both plays, there is also a father-son dynamic that leads to their actions.
After his father’s death, Hamlet is in a frustrated state where he relapses into suicidal misery. It is in this state of mind that he meets the ghost of his father and learns of his “foul and most unnatural murther” (Shakespeare 1388). He then vows revenge on his Uncle for murdering him. Hamlet pretends to be insane so that he can calculate his moves according to the situation at hand. Some characters come to realize that he is not mad. In Act III Scene I, Claudius states that Hamlet’s actions although strange “lack’d for a little, was not like madness” (Shakespeare 1417). While confronting his mother, Gertrude, Hamlet goes into such a wild rage that he kills Polonius believing him to be the king. This action was rash when just before confronting his mother he hesitates and does not kill Claudius while he is praying. The erratic action of killing innocent Polonius, eventually leads to his death in the final scene. Laertes, Polonius’s son, and Claudius then plan on murdering Hamlet for killing Polonius. After Hamlet learns of Ophelia’s death, he gets into a confrontation with Laertes. In the...