HAMLET is an eventful play created by Shakespeare which shows how revenge can bring such a negative effect on the people around the avengers that guilt is the obvious result. Hamlet is a man of high status who goes through the death of his father, his mother’s marriage to his uncle, and his discovery that his father was murdered by his uncle. The character of Hamlet portrays a son who will risk everything to get revenge for his father’s death, and considering the revenge Hamlet seeks, the theme of revenge and guilt are prominent throughout the entire play.
Hamlet has no idea that his father was murdered until the ghost of King Hamlet appears to him and tells him of it. Hamlet’s main task is to find proof of the accusation that the ghost has made. Throughout his quest, doubts are evident, but are soon replaced with the convincing proof which Hamlet discovers after he puts on a play called THE MOUSETRAP. This play reenacts the murder of Hamlet’s father which causes Claudius to become very uncomfortable because he is truly guilty. There can be a couple ways of looking at Hamlet’s character. Hamlet has been subject to more analyses than almost any other character in literature. ” There are two main ideas that are often thought of when it comes to the character of Hamlet. The first of these theories would be that he was truly insane or has an obsession problem which causes personality flaw. The other idea many people have is that he is a genius and a hero. Hamlet “was put to a supreme test of character and in the end triumphed over the moral problem he was confronted with, thus winning a very real spiritual victory in the face of death. The author expresses his own opinion of Hamlet being more of a hero with fine qualities than a madman who is cowardly and a hopeless dreamer (Utter 138). Multiple sides of Hamlet’s character are revealed throughout the play of HAMLET. James Fisher who has given his review of HAMLET in the Theatre Journal describes how Branagh, who played the role of Hamlet in the Barbican Theatre in London, has a significant grasp of his role, and the capability to speak the language allows him to bring the character of Hamlet to life. Hamlet is a character who has a powerful presence. He has a mocking humor along with some cruelty.
Even though he comes across in a harsh manner, Hamlet shows some good-humored affection along with kindness. He is able to pretend his madness with quality craftiness and does not give away his real goal of getting revenge (553-554). Hamlet has a cleverness and intelligence that allows him to think of situations in a different perspective. He often gives a sense of mystery about him that the other characters have a hard time understanding. Polonius tries to understand and figure out the reasoning behind Hamlet’s madness or mystery, but never comes to a full realization of the reason.
Polonius thinks that Hamlet’s madness is due to his love for Ophelia, but after spying on him, he concludes that it cannot be a cause of a human emotion but some intellectual or philosophical problem. He considers that through some of Hamlet’s wrong decisions, he will be able to find the right way out, but after watching him carry out his revenge, it reveals that one wrong decision will only lead to another. Hamlet in his thoughts decides that his show of grief, his public appearance, and his personality cannot represent who he truly is by itself.
He believes these signs are what most people use to understand each other and decide where they belong. However, Hamlet’s mind sets him apart from the other characters because he does not use universal human experiences to understand people, but has a particular way of doing it himself. Hamlet has to make sure he succeeds in making people believe he is mad because even though the signs cannot reveal who he is completely, it does help (Skulsky 477). Hamlet is an honest man but is only able to share his true self with Horatio.
He is able to have the usual type of reasoning that he normally shares with his friend. Hamlet gives himself praise and he boasts on himself occasionally, as well. He also point out how Laertes is very well-off because of his higher status in society. Hamlet is able to grasp many concepts of events going on around him and deal with them accordingly. Having this knowledge is a gift that he has been blessed with (Skulsky 480). Hamlet struggles with so many obstacles throughout the play, but one of the main hardships he must face is his ideas on the world around him.
According to Thomas F. Laan in Studies in English Literature, he states that “one of the primary functions of tragedy is its attempt to visualize coherently the universe which forms the context for human activity. ” The Shakespearian play of HAMLET shows a conflict between two different ideas. The first is that world-view can quickly spread if it is allowed to be defined by a certain figure. In HAMLET, this is shown through the idea of Hamlet taking matters into his own hands for his revenge. The other concept is revealed when Hamlet expresses his opinion on the evil in Denmark.
He longs for the time when there is perfect order governed by a generous country (247). Revenge is often seen in most tragedies on the Elizabethan stage. A revenge tragedy is usually based on the death of a character leading into a motivation of revenge. Their main objective is to accomplish the death of a murderer. Often the tragedy will result in the death of the one who takes revenge as well. This style of play first appeared in the SPANISH TRAGEDY as well as HAMLET (Thorndike 125). The theme of HAMLET upon which Shakespeare based this story is revenge.
It was clearly written as a tragedy, which Shakespeare felt the audience wanted. The author seems to think that most of the commentators, professors, literary persons, and other people of expertise felt resentful as to why Hamlet did not take his revenge on his guilty uncle once he discovered the truth. Hamlet seemed so anxious to take his revenge for his father’s murder, and yet he was not quick to act after evidence was proven. There is an “inner contradiction in Hamlet’s personality—that he sensitively shrinks form carrying out the revenge indicated by the Ghost, and yet will do all sorts of bloody deeds on his own account. Throughout his mission, Hamlet kills Polonius with his sword while in his mother’s room, he strongly desires to kill his uncle while he is praying, has his college friends sent to their deaths, and fights with Laertes over Ophelia’s grave. His revenge becomes so great that it does not matter what he must do to attain it (Williamson 87-88). Even though Hamlet is seeking his revenge, he does not settle for a simple death when it comes to Claudius. The author discusses that Hamlet wants more than just a basic revenge, but he must punish Claudius with damnation in his death.
Especially in the scene where Claudius is confessing and Hamlet has the chance to stab him in the back, he does not go through with it because he realizes that Claudius’ soul would go straight to heaven. In order to fully have his revenge, he must kill Claudius after he has sinned so he will suffer as his father did. This soliloquy of Hamlet can be thought of as a reflection of his character. It gives insight to his thoughts and reasoning for taking his revenge. Revenge can often change people into their worst enemies. Hamlet become so obsessed with making sure Claudius suffered for what he did, that he began to not care what he had to o to others to achieve his revenge (Gottschalk 155-156). Some of the critics, however, believe that Hamlet is a man who spends too much time in his own thoughts. Throughout the play Hamlet always talks and thinks about his revenge, but does not carry it out. Some say that he does too much thinking and does not act upon it. Often these types of people are thought of as characters that are amateurs who have a creative imagination and do not fully understand the reality they are in or know their own will. Shakespeare created Hamlet to try to create a different perspective of a person.
If people do not understand who he is, the author says that it is not their fault, but that the writer has created an error (Williamson 88). Hamlet is a work of art. Shakespeare created him so that people may admire him in that sense. With a piece of art, one must judge it, enjoy it, and consider it. There must be an interest in the depth of the piece that draws people in wanting to discover and understand it. Even if one discovers the true depth of a work of art, there are always places to be critical. Hamlet is a character where questions can arise and assumptions are made.
HAMLET can be considered as a subtle play but also full of drama. It is one of the most popular of Shakespeare’s dramas (Williamson 90). Throughout the life of Hamlet, revenge is of course the main goal for him, but Hamlet also provides insight to his particular way of thinking and reasoning. Hamlet’s mission to avenge his father’s murder seems to take more control of him than what he realizes. In the process of finding the perfect revenge, Hamlet now faces his own account for the murder of Polonius, the grief of Ophelia’s death, a duel with Laertes, and the guilt of not acting quickly to have his revenge.
Even though the theme of HAMLET is revenge, guilt can also be seen throughout the play which often was a result from Hamlet seeking his revenge. It seems that people believes that through revenge they will find satisfaction. Revenge should never become the focus of someone’s life. Often if one’s desire is to accomplish their goal, it will overcome their life and they may end up worse off than before. Works Cited Fisher, James. Theatre Journal 45:552-54. JSTOR. Liberty University Library. 25 Feb. 2009. Gottschalk, Paul. Shakespeare Quarterly 24:155-170.
JSTOR. Liberty University Library. 26 Feb. 2009. Laan, Thomas F. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 6:247-262. JSTOR. Liberty University Library. 26 Feb. 2009. Skulsky, Harold. PMLA 89:477-486. JSTOR. Liberty University Library. 26 Feb. 2009. Thorndike, Ashley H. PMLA 17:125-220. JSTOR. Liberty University Library. 26 Feb. 2009. Utter, Robert Palfrey Jr. College English 12:138-144. JSTOR. Liberty University Library. 26 Feb. 2009. Williamson, Claude C. H. International Journal of Ethics 33: 85-100. JSTOR. Liberty University Library. 25 Feb. 2009.