Part One Essay: Disillusionment. Depression. Despair. These are the burning emotions swirling in Hamlet’s soul as he attempts to come to terms with his father’s death and his mother’s incestuous, illicit marriage. While Hamlet tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered idealism, he consciously embarks on a quest to seek the truth hidden in Elsinore; this in contrast to Claudius’ burning attempts to hide the truth of murder. Deception versus truth; illusion versus reality. Throughout the play Hamlet struggles between them. Hamlet and his sanity can arguably be discussed throughout the play. Many portions of the play supports his loss of control in his actions, while other parts uphold his ability of dramatic art. There are indications from Hamlet throughout the play of his mind’s well being. Hamlet’s pranking disposition may have caused him in certain times that he was playing a role. Hamlet’s mood swings and Machiavellian manipulations are prevalent throughout the play. He pretends to be insane to everyone, in hope of seeking revenge for his fathers death. This link between vengeance and acting is what Hamlet struggles with throughout the play. He then swears to kill Claudius when he says, “I should have fatted all the region kites with the slave is off. Bloody, bawdy villain! O vengeance! Why, what an ass I am?” (Act 2.2) He makes this big build up of what he should have done and how he will be revenged and shoots it down in the next line. He consistently backs down. Hamlet attempts to account for his failure to take revenge . He can’t decide if he wants to play the role. In the same scene, where Hamlet speaks his soliloquy, he is portraying self criticism throughout. In the lines where he speaks of Hecuba, he is referring to being an actor on a stage. He goes back and forth with self criticism in this soliloquy. At some point he moves from self criticism to wild words. By having this play, Hamlet feels that he’ll be able to tell if Claudius is guilty by him squirming in his seat. At the end of the soliloquy, he is not sure if the ghost was real, even perhaps that he is the devil who used his power, “to assume a pleasing shape.” Hamlet seems not to be able to tell the difference between reality and illusion. If he would of followed the ghost’s instructions instead of going back and forth, Claudius would been the causally.
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Looking at the other players, most have a Machiavellian disposition. Comparing illusion to reality, all of them have a false sense of both. Claudius, Is quite aware of how appearances may deceive and how you can work or act a role given to you. He pretends he care for Hamlet but is scared of him, almost a hate for him. Polonius couldn’t stick to his advisor role. He tried to convince the king that Hamlet is in love with Ophelia, eventually spies on him and gets killed by Hamlet for being tricky and deceitful. Gertrude, is in her own little world. She is living an illusion. In Act 1:2, she is unaffected by her new status as the wife of her brother-in-law. She doesn’t realize the incestuous act she has committed. She seams to be in an illusion of her mind. Claudius seems to have brain washed her into this flighty character who does what he says and only trusts him. Every character has a mirror effect. Even Ophelia deceives Hamlet by lying to him. She isn’t as deceitful as the others in the play. Throughout the play, the themes of illusion and falsehood have been prevalent. The entire Danish court is caught in a web of spying, lies, and betrayal. No one speaks their mind or addresses a purpose clearly.
Essay # 3
Hamlet realizes that he should do what his role dictates, because it is his role. He doesn’t stumble in his conviction after he returns and fully embraces the act. Hamlet meets his tragic end not because he was sane or insane. I feel that he is accepting of his own fate because of his own tragic flaw, grief and procrastination. Whether he sane or had lost control of his actions, both theories has it’s own support. Hamlet from the beginning to end, was a prince that was grief stricken, until a price of rage and passion, has developed through the stages by his own sanity and madness. Even if the madness was true or false, as Hamlet portrayed the role of a mad man, he took it upon himself to be lost in his control of actions. When Hamlet speaks of Yorick the court jester, he remembers him well as his childhood favorite. Soon after the remarks he then begins to dwell on his death, and Alexander the Great and others. I feel that Hamlet being so melancholy as it is, that he likes to be miserable and dark. He accepts the fact that he is also going to be in the dirt one day. Hamlet’s outlook on life could never be an optimistic one. He is filled with such negativity. On the other hand in Act 5 :2 it is suggested the Hamlet has found his moral bearing in the way that from the start he is decisive and clever in his actions. His hatred is focused on Claudius . Horatio warns Hamlet of the possible disaster, but Hamlet doesn’t care, he isn’t scared of death any longer. Hamlet shows a sense of responsibility and concern for the world and it’s people at the end of his life, when Horatio also wants to take his own life. Hamlet assures him that he is needed here to report this tragedy and clear his name.
Did Hamlet really love Ophelia? Although his behavior throughout the play was inconsistent, I feel that he was deeply in love with her. After his father died and Gertrude immediately married Claudius, Hamlet was repulsed by his mothers actions. He developed a burning hate towards women in general. His love for Ophelia is noticed by all. The king and Polonius notice too and realize that this love would also benefit them. Gertrude wishes to use Ophelia love for Hamlet to rid his madness. Claudius wants the same, however his reason is to end the treat of his life. Once the king and queen realize this remedy they persuade Ophelia to court Hamlet. Hamlet realizes that they know his loves Ophelia and might use this to end the threat. Hamlet realizes he must destroy all current feelings Ophelia has for him and he has for her. This is prevalent with his treatment towards Ophelia in Act 3. When he discovers his fathers death, he disguises himself with a madness in his behavior, to cover up his intentions for revenge. He acts this way on one occasion with Ophelia. She then relays the meeting with her father. In Act 3:1, Hamlet recognizes the importance of his affections towards her. In regards to her beauty, Hamlet states, ” That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.” It is when Ophelia returns his affection that his attitude changes towards her. Hamlet starts to taunt and insult her. He told her that he had once loved her, but then changes his statement to say that he has never loved her. This seems to be the result of denial of pain that she has caused him. He needs to realize that she doesn’t mean what she says. When he asks her where Polonius is she lies and says that he is home. Hamlet knows that he is spying on them. Her answer is what enrages him even more. By being untruthful to Hamlet, and doing what Polonius and Claudius ask of her, Hamlet redevelops negativity toward women. Hamlet remembers his mothers deceitfulness and frailty. Seeing Ophelia do the same thing, he can’t take it and bids her to “get thee to the nunnery.” Act 3:1. Hamlet said this because he holds Ophelia in high regard, aside from the world he honors cynically, he does not wish her to become involved with it’s corruptness, therefore feeling she would remain peaceful in the nunnery.
When Hamlet killed Polonius he also killed Ophelia’s soul. Near the end she sings a silly song that reveals the nature of her relationship with Hamlet and his promises of love. Ophelia didn’t have a plan or a plot, the loss of her father and her lover drives her mad and is too much for her to take. She kills herself by drowning.
Hamlet’s relationship with Claudius is obvious to the reader, they both hate each other because they are a threat to the other. When Hamlet hears from the ghost of his father’s murder, Hamlet vows revenge. Claudius wants to spy on hamlet to find the madness. He calls on Hamlet’s childhood friends to find out what Hamlet thinks and what is wrong with him. Throughout the scene, they bait each other with Rozencrantz and Guildenstein. Hamlet and Claudius are in a sense very alike. They are both worried about what the other is doing.
Hamlet’s revenge seems to take forever and never seems to materialize. He thinks and worry’s but never acts on it. He acts mad to disguise his revenge. He represents the play with the scenes change to reflect the circumstances of Claudius’ crime so Hamlet can watch his reactions with his own eyes. “For mine eyes will rivet to his face, / And after we will both our judgments join/In censure of his seeming.” (Act 3:2). In Act 3:3, Claudius’ soliloquy provides ultimate detail about this guilt. He openly admits his guilt and is tormented by his conscience. As remorseful as he is he still won’t come forward and give up the thrown for redemsion. He is not a true or born evil man but seems to hide his true self to avoid judgment from others. He is guilty but won’t come forward because of his greed. When Hamlet comes up behind Claudius he doesn’t kill him. At this point he remembers his father and how he was killed without ever revealing his own sins and gaining redemption. I feel that Hamlet couldn’t kill Claudius yet because he wanted him to be killed while committing another sin, which would send him to hell or be trapped in purgatory. He doesn’t want him to escape damnation. He is waiting to catch him red handed doing something villainy. He needs his revenge to be dramatic.
All quotes are taken from: Shakespear,William. The Tradegy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. June 1998, revised edition, Sylvan Barnet.