Block 1 English
February 12, 2009
Prince of Denmark: A Hero?
William's Shakespeare's famous drama Hamlet, is filled with treachery, revenge, and corruption. The play unfolds as the protagonist, a troubled young prince, looses his father to the hand of his uncle. At the same time, his recently widowed mother marries this uncle becomes new king of Denmark. After encountering his father's ghost, young Hamlet dedicates himself to avenge his father's murder. But although at the beginning he seems sure of what he's set out to do, his many flaws start to show thought out the story. He begins constantly struggling in a battle with his mind, and delays action by finding reasons to avoid his duties. He also builds up many emotions on his mother's marriage, and looses faith on all women. He becomes uninterested in life and sees no meaning of it. He's unable to act, to think clearly, to love, to build a much more meaningful life and hides himself in his own thoughts. He clearly was not a fit hero, for he was a passive, suicidal, misogynist wimp.
Hamlet can be portrayed as uncertain. He is unclear about whether to avenge the death of his father, or simply mourn his absence but recover and let go. He conveys a feeling of ambiguity in his soliloquies, by fearing condemnation for himself. In act one he first brings out doubts about this father's ghost, saying "The spirit that I have seen may be the devil." Making this a quick excuse he continues saying the devil being so strong has abused him in his "weakness and melancholy" (III, 2, Pg137). He continues to doubt his ability to obey the ghost, for he is simply a coward. He confesses he's "dull" and claims he cannot take action because his personality is a passive one. As the play goes on, Hamlet still does not find the motivation to continue his plan. He compares himself to the player of a king passionate about Hecuba, when it doesn't mean much to him because he's acting. He says, "Yet I, a lazy and miserable rascal, mope about like Johnny Daydreams, lacking inspiration for my cause, and unable to say a word. No, not even on behalf of a king who was damnably murdered." (II, 2, Pg135).
The prince of Denmark later begins to convince himself that the ghost was truly his father and is determined to follow the ghost's commands. But in order to kill the king, he thinks of attempting to act but cannot actually bring himself into action. In act III, scene 2, Hamlet decides to go on to kill King Claudius and establish justice once and for all. But at the next scene he talks himself out of character and does not kill the king. Apparently the king was praying in church and he decided not to kill him because “he would go to heaven. So much for my revenge!”. He delays and intends to do the deed when King Claudius “is drunk asleep, or in a rage, in bed indulging in incestuous pleasures, blaspheming while playing a game, or involved in some activity that has no trace of God's salvation in it.” (III, 3, Pg187). Hamlet's actions are delayed whenever the situation is not perfect. He goes back and forth, and only kills Claudius when he's almost force to before his own death.
Another one of Hamlet's flaws is his lack of contempt for life. After his uncle Claudius murdered his brother, Hamlet's father, he'd knew it was for the power and hand of the queen. His mood turns morbid and depressed. His mind suffered and he was looking at death as the dream of something better than his troubled life.”To live or not to live. That is the issue. Is it more noble to endure the blows of fickle fortune, or to fight against overwhelming odds and overcome them?”(III,1,Pg143). Hamlet is much tired of feeling sorrow over his murdered father and anger towards his mother. But as he contemplates suicide, he wonders and worries about what and where he would go after death. He keeps in mind Christian beliefs of damnation and still sees death as something unknown and feared. But he's constantly wishing he didn't have to go on. “I have lost my good spirits, dropped all form of exercise. Indeed, I feel so depressed that this beautiful structure the earth seems to be a useless lump of rock.”(II, 2, Pg117). He not only hates his life but the world that surrounds him has no meaning. He even calls his home Denmark, where he is prince, an “unweedened garden” of “things rank and gross in nature”(I, 2, Pg00).
After coming back from his ship to England, Hamlet encounters a gravedigger and learns he's digging the grave for Ophelia. It makes him feel very angry and confused, and after learning about the life of some of the deceased at the graveyard, changes dramatically his views towards death. He goes from feeling troubled and fearful of the unknown, into a person aware of the reality of death. Hamlet becomes obsessed with it and its effects. In act III he's able to discuss death openly, and when he killed Polonius by mistake he had no sympathy or remorse. Same happened when he sends to kill Rosencratz and Guildenstern believing “they brought it upon themselves”. He shows numbness to all death around him and death itself. He comes to a conclusion that no matter who you are and how important you are, everyone ends up buried exactly the same way. “Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returned to dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make loam,”(V, 1, Pg273) This way of thinking helped him accept Laertes' duel knowing what might be his faith. “Being prepared for [death] is what matters...what's so bad about an early death?” (V, 2, Pg295).
During the entire play, Hamlet shows a negative view towards the women in his life as well. He feels that both his mother Gertrude, and lover Ophelia have betrayed them through their actions. His relationship with his mother isn't the best because even though he loves her, he's still angry that she didn't mourn his father and married his uncle so quickly after his death. He feels she has betrayed booth him and his father, he also sees it as immoral and disrespectful. He feels she, as well as all woman are dependent on men too much, are too weak, and cannot think for themselves. He calls them “brainless beasts” who “Know well enough what cuckold s [they] make of [men].”(III, 1, Pg149). He begins to feel disgusted with marriage and sexuality “Imagine! Living in the stinking sweat of a greasy bed, wallowing in corruption, flirting and making love in that disgusting pigsty!”(III, 4, Pg197). Hamlet does not understand how men could stand having women around them at all.
His mother obviously shaped greatly his view on all women. He especially let out all these feelings when he encounters his young love Ophelia. He says harsh things to her and treats her as if she was much more inferior to him. He tells her all women are whores, and all women, including her, who seem pure inside are full of corruption and sexual desires. Ophelia's father also gets offended as he's called a fishmonger, because he ordered his daughter to spy on Hamlet. Hamlet doesn't trust Ophelia, even though she's always willing to listen to him. He thinks he's got women all figured out “I know all about your cosmetics. God has given you one face, and you must make yourselves another. You wiggle and mince, you put on fancy voices, you use fashionable words, and pretend your affections are natural”(III, 1, Pg149). But in the mist of his rage, he failed to see that Ophelia always defended him and loved him despite his brutality towards her.
Not only was he passive, suicidal and misogynist, but he often showed he was a wimp. Hamlet delayed his revenge for so long, making several excuses when he had a clear chance to kill his uncle. Also, he simply did not confront him, but organized a play to set him up on what he called a “mousetrap”. But this only delayed his actions even more. “My eyes will be revered on his face, later we'll compare notes judging his demeanor.”(III, 2, Pg157). He showed to be afraid of Claudius, because everything he does is not direct.
Hamlet was specially a wimp when he goes to confront his mother, and he notices that someone is hiding behind the curtains but cannot make out who it is. Thinking it might be Claudius, he stabs him with his sword. But the person behind the curtains was Polonius, Ophelia's father. “You wretched rash, intruding fool- farewell. I thought you were the king. Accept your bad luck.”(III, 4, Pg193). His actions were very cowardly because he didn't attack the king directly, but behind the curtain where one cannot see the attack coming.
Young Hamlet may had been a prince by birth but not by actions. He also wasn't fit to be a hero, because his many flaws could not allow him to develop a admirable personality. It can't be denied that his situation was harsh and that it could bring sorrow to anyone in his position. But he should have been able to think and express himself more rationally, instead of running endlessly around the same circle of insecurity. His lack of strength affected not only himself but all members of the court and friends. Upon his death he was given memorial like a soldier, even though he lived like a coward, without love, pride or happiness.
Prince Of Denmark:
Ciampa English 12
February 12, 2009