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Understanding the character Hamlet

Understanding the character Hamlet


Book Review on Shakespeare’s Hamlet: understanding the Character Hamlet.

Deborah Patrick

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is considered as one of the greatest revenge tragedies of all time and ever since its initial publication in 1603, it has evoked an avalanche of adaptations, lectures, performances, criticisms as well as analysis which aim to understand and unearth the intricate and labyrinthine nature of Shakespeare characters.

Indeed Hamlet is regarded as one of a kind, a classic revenge tragedy which involves a host of murders, gory bloodbath scenes, a wandering ghost and several characters bent on avenging the deaths of their loved ones. However a closer examination of Shakespeare master piece reveals several complex and intricate themes which propel one to think of their actions as well as the role of fate and destiny. A typical example of a character who embodies an epitome of contradictions and indecision is Hamlet. The character of Hamlet has been viewed by critics and literary professors as one of the greatest characters ever produced by Shakespeare. The character Hamlet for several decades has been a source of intrigue, fascination as well as utter infuriation to some literary critics as well as people around the globe. To some, Hamlet is a man of contradictions, indecisive yet spontaneous, kind yet brutal in his treatment of Ophelia and Gertrude. Whilst to others he is a man of great character often thinking through his actions through his philosophical meditation and soliloquies even as he tries to comprehend the daunting task given to him by his father. In his famous “To be or not to be” speech, Hamlet is truly confused even as he tries figure out the purpose of life and if suicide is a way out of the complex nature of the troubles of life. It is worth noting that for his era, Hamlet is truly a remarkable man bent on doing the right thing, behind his façade of cynicisms, sarcasms and hurtful puns lies a man who is bent on finding the truth. Judging by the Victorian standards of life were revenge and wars were the norm, Hamlet in delaying his vengeance and meditating upon the meaning of life sets a standard not reached till later years. Perhaps in portraying Hamlet as the reflective thinker, Shakespeare is commenting on the excesses of greed, ambition as well as the problems which arise when corruption evolves at the highest order bringing chaos, anarchy and doom to everyone.

Shakespeare Hamlet has been viewed in many ways, for some it gives a psychological insight even as we watch young Hamlet struggle with the pressures of avenging his father’s death. Critics such as Erlich argue that Hamlet is psychologically disturbed as he lacks a strong paternal figure as Claudius is engulfed in greed and makes a poor role model figure. For others such as C.S. Lewis the play itself teaches the value of human existence, sin and how death plays a huge role in the life of humans. In conclusion despite the several facets which exist to the play, Hamlet is one of a kind as the use of themes such as religion, power, duality, betrayal and revenge call into question the very nature of human existence.

This picture of Hamlet was gotten from this site










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