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Autor: anton 28 December 2010
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Hamlet, His Own Victim
Hamlet, the main character in William Shakespeareâ€™s play Hamlet is a deeply intelligent and reflective man. Hamlet is compelled by justice and filial duty to revenge his fatherâ€™s murder; he is also simultaneously riddled with self-doubt and moral conscience. Hamlet is quite disturbed by the sudden death of his father and his mother's hasty marriage to his uncle, King Claudius. Hamletâ€™s character is naturally withdrawn, dark, and morose in the wake of these traumatic events. The abnormality of his thoughts, or madness and behavior is to some extent understandable. The most obvious issue in this play can be stated in the simple question, of why Hamlet delays taking revenge for his fatherâ€™s death.
While critics offer various answers to why Hamlet delays his revenge their theories generally differ in two distinct ways; one group focuses on the inner workings of Hamlet's mind as the primary cause of his procrastination while others stress the external obstacles that prohibit the prince from carrying out his task. Critics who find the cause of Hamlet's delay in his internal meditations typically view the prince as a man of great moral integrity who is forced to commit an act that goes against his deepest principles. Another perspective of Hamlet's internal struggle suggests that the prince has become so disenchanted with life since his father's death, that he has neither the desire nor the will to exact revenge. On numerous occasions, the prince tries to make sense of his moral dilemma through personal meditations, which Shakespeare presents as soliloquies like â€œAnd whatsoever else should hap tonight, Give it an understanding but no tongueâ€ (I, ii.254-255), and â€œthough hell itself should gape/And bid me to hold my peace. I pray you all" (I, ii.251-252).
Hamlet has been shocked and appalled that in the midst of his grief, Gertrude his mother, has yielded to Claudius's advances and married him only two months after her husband's funeral. To the prince, these external obstacles have degraded the Danish court to nothing more than "an unweeded garden, / That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely" (I.ii.135-36). With such heavy matters weighing on his mind, the ghost of his father only complicates Hamlet's ability to make decisions, leading to many other interludes of self-questioning and prolonged inaction. Moreover, for the same reason, he gives vent to his abject mood with lines like "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/Seems to me all the uses of this world!" (I.ii. 133-134). In order to go on living, and live a productive life, Hamlet has to solve the problem raised in this soliloquy. He is a grief-stricken man, caught in the middle of a great number of difficulties and dangers. The only remedy to his problem lies in the curing of his mind. Only then will he be able to rise above the many serious problems he faces.
Hamletâ€™s quandary is dramatized in what is perhaps the most famous soliloquy Shakespeare wrote, â€œTo be or not to be, that is the question: (III.i.57). Hamlet, educated apparently in the humanist tradition, debates with himself over whether he should go through with the plan to avenge his father's death, or worse yet, Hamlet's strongest impulse is to kill himself to avoid further debasement, but he fears the damning consequences of suicide.
As both a plot component and a central theme, madness, and with it, the line between reality and illusion are certainly prominent throughout Hamlet. The Prince feigns madness so well that we sometimes question his underlying sanity. Hamlet himself harbors the fear that the ghost of his father may be a hallucination. This notion of illusion is embodied in Ur-Hamlet's remarks about "The will of my most seeming virtuous queen" (I,v. 47) and in the "play-within-a-play"(II,ii.467-468) where mere illusion on the stage evokes the real emotion of guilt in Claudius, the "play" being the thing through which Hamlet "catches the conscience of the King" (II,ii. 532-533).
Hamlet is a very complex character and clearly has many things going on in his mind. The combination of these internal thoughts, and external feelings made it hard for Hamlet to overcome his revengeful delay any longer. He never lost sight of his objective
to expose the King's sin of murdering his father and obtaining revenge. Hamlet finally avenges his father's murder, but in the process loses his own life. Hamlet knew that succumbing to this temptation could have terrible consequences, even more proving that he was in fact sane.
Shakespeare, William. â€œHamletâ€ Literature: An Introduction To Fiction, Poetry and Drama. 9th ed. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia.
New York: Longman, 2005. 1604-1719.
Bevington, David. â€œWilliam Shakespeareâ€™s Hamlet.â€ Interview. U of Arizona, 1996. [Online] 15 Nov. 2004.
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