Is Hamlet Moral?

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In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet’s character serves as the backbone behind the

tragedy’s portrayal of good moral consciousness. From Hamlet’s first encounter with

his father’s ghost, the audience becomes aware of Hamlet’s honorable motive to avenge

the death of his father. Hamlet’s honorable desire “to right the wrong sets him apart from

Fortinbras and Laertes, who desire merely to retaliate in kind for an injury done their

fathers” (Palfrey Utter Jr. 141). This propelling aspiration is the force behind the

following moral dilemmas that develop within the play, giving respectable color to

Hamlet’s sense of justice and morality as he seeks to fulfill his goal, trying to cure

whatever is “rotten in the state of Denmark (Shakespeare 50).”

As the play progresses, Claudius’ immoral stance in killing his brother for

personal gain causes the audience to expect Hamlet’s morally conscious counteraction.

For example, while Claudius thinks nothing of marrying his own brother’s wife, [Hamlet]

alone of all people in the court objects to his mother’s marriage on moral grounds

(Palfrey Utter Jr. 140).” He believes it to be an abomination against canon law, a

transgression that should never be forgiven. Also, while Claudius’ fear causes him to plot

Hamlet’s death in England, Hamlet, on the other hand, hesitates in killing Claudius in

order to wait for a time without prayer. The fact that Hamlet is indecisive and faltering in

accomplishing his revenge illustrates his inner struggle of staying morally correct.

Using the excuse of not wanting Claudius to go to heaven only serves to highlight

Hamlet’s use of a delay tactic. Because of this, Hamlet’s moral struggle directly foils the

character of Fortinbras whose strength and successful actions influence Hamlet into

believing that “[His] thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth” (Shakespeare 116).

Unlike Claudius and Fortinbras, Hamlet prefers to...
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