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With special reference to the main soliloquies, trace the development of Hamlet's character in the play

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Introduction

With special reference to the main soliloquies, trace the development of Hamlet's character in the play In this essay I am going to write about the development of Hamlet's character throughout the play by referring to each of the soliloquies. In the first soliloquy, Hamlet is presented as someone who is angry, depressed and alienated. He is also angry about his mother's actions as she married her husband's brother so soon after his death. This soliloquy informs the audience that Hamlet is a malcontent; he is presented as someone who is unhappy and only sees things in a bad light. The main reason for his despair is the sudden death of his father and the hasty marriage of his mother to her brother-in-law within two months of her husband's death. Hamlet is disgusted at his mother's antics and talks about incest; Claudius and Gertrude breaking the Elizabethan law. He says 'with such dexterity to incestuous sheets', this reveals how truly angry Hamlet is with the fact that his mother has a sexual relationship with Claudius and carries out acts of incest. In the first soliloquy he blames God for the situation, therefore he no longer believes in religion. Another interpretation of this is that he could not blame God unless he believed in him. Other readers believe that Hamlet only uses religion as an excuse to justify his delayed actions, for example when Hamlet decided not to kill Polonius because he was in contact with God. Other interpretations are that Hamlet is religious and Christian as he believes in the punishment for sins. On the other hand he acts quickly on occasions which include killing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He would not have committed this sin if he was a true Christian. At the end of the soliloquy Hamlet compares himself to the Greek hero Hercules, 'But no more like my father than I to Hercules', this reveals his gradually developing lack of self-esteem which also appears in the second soliloquy. ...read more.

Middle

In the second half of the soliloquy, Hamlet wants Gertrude to confess her guilt. In order to do this he will be rude to his mother but not harm her, he reveals this by saying, 'I will speak daggers to her but use none'. This shows that he still loves his mother and he only wants to punish her, but not harm her in any way. When Hamlet says, 'Let me be cruel, not unnatural', he means that he will not become derranged and kill everyone. This shows that he is still thinking rationally despite his anger and eagerness to seek revenge. He also mentions, 'Let not ever the soul of Nero enter this firm bosom'. Nero was a roman emperor who slept with his mother and had her murdered after she had killed her husband by poisoning him. This shows that Hamlet still loves his mother but they only share a mother/son relationship and that Hamlet does not want to commit incest. It also reveals that he does not want to murder his mother, therefore does not want to harm her. Overall Hamlet is still depressed but is no longer scared or worried about killing his uncle, he is now capable of action and wants to seek revenge as soon as possible. Also in the previous soliloquy, Hamlet was questioning life and death constantly as a result of his depressed and confused mind. This is no longer the case because he is now more focused and able to think more logically. In the second soliloquy, Hamlet was asking how an actor can act out his passion but he cannot; now it seems in this soliloquy Hamlet can also express his emotions like an actor. I have seen two versions of the play Hamlet which are; Hamlet (1991) starring Mel Gibson and Hamlet (2000) starring Ethan Hawke. I will talk about Act 3, Scene 4 with specific reference to these interpretations of the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

This scene also shows that Hamlet and Gertrude only share a mother/son relationship due to the fact that Gertrude regrets Ophelia dying and says, 'I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife'. By saying this it is obvious that she did not share a sexual relationship with Hamlet. Overall in this scene, Hamlet is shown as being passionate, loving and full of emotion. He is mature now as he does not weep in self pity of Ophelia's death. This is a contrast of Hamlet's character in the first and second soliloquies where he was constantly woeful and depressed due to his father's death. Throughout the play, Hamlet shows an ambiguous attitude towards God. By showing Hamlet's arrogance towards religion, Shakespeare could be challenging Protestant Orthodoxy, following the Reformation. Shakespeare also demonstrated Hamlet's Renaissance credentials, hence making him ahead of his society and amplifying his alienation .The Renaissance is a cultural phenomenon that began in fifteenth-century Italy. Scholars at the time believed in the idea that all of the capabilities of humans should be studied and developed as much as possible. The movement Renaissance humanism, led to a new interest in human experience and the questioning of human understanding. Hamlet also questioned medieval society and the importance of humans and life. In his long, anxious soliloquies, Hamlet blames everyone, even God. However near the end of the play in Act 5, Scene 2, Hamlet admits that God is in charge of everything. He also comes to terms with the fact that if he is meant to die, he will die sooner or later. His words, 'Let be', show that he is content, ready and has finally accepted Ophelia and his father's death and killing Polonius. Hamlet is an intellectual character in the play and in being so is outcast from his own family. Hamlet's ultimate tragedy is that he is a young man with potential and passion, given an impossible job and in doing this job he has destroyed himself and everyone else. ...read more.

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