The tragic hero of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Prince Hamlet is a frustrating character torn between duty to his father and his reluctance to commit murder. An educated and philosophical man of about thirty, his father was murdered by his uncle, who later married his mother. Having received a university education at Wittenberg; known for its humanist view, Hamlet often ponders the concepts of mortality and determinism, contrasting ironically with his fated fall. His debatable love of the commoner Ophelia is a pivotal point in the play, highlighting his apparent descent into madness. Obsessed with the concept of acting the melodramatic prince often compares his world to that of a stage, and is constantly reviewing appearance vs reality. Hamlet has fascinated audiences and readers for centuries, and the first thing to point out about him is that he is enigmatic. There is always more to him than the other characters in the play can figure out; even the most careful and clever readers come away with the sense that they don’t know everything there is to know about this character. Hamlet actually tells other characters that there is more to him than meets the eye; notably, his mother, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But his fascination involves much more than this. When he speaks, he sounds as if there’s something important he’s not saying, maybe something even he is not aware of. The ability to write soliloquies and dialogues that create this effect is one of Shakespeare’s most impressive achievements. A university student whose studies are interrupted by his father’s death, Hamlet is extremely philosophical and contemplative. He is particularly drawn to difficult questions or questions that cannot be answered with any certainty. Faced with evidence that his uncle murdered his father, evidence that any other character in a play would believe, Hamlet becomes obsessed with proving his uncle’s guilt before trying to act. The standard of “beyond a...
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