• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Hamlet - Hero or villain?

Extracts from this document...


Hamlet comes across as both a hero and a villain throughout 'Hamlet' at different intervals. Hamlet is a hero as he uses his cunning and pretends to be mad, he takes revenge for his Father, and he dies unpretentiously. However, Hamlet is also a villain as he lies to his friends, break Ophelia's heart, leading her to madness and eventually suicide, and he cowardly postpones killing Claudius, despite the fact that Claudius killed his own Father. The madness Hamlet seems to have only surfaces in the presence of particular people, such as Gertrude, Claudius, Polonius and Ophelia. Yet, around Horatio, the grave-diggers, Bernardo and the players his disposition is less than 'antic'. This leads to questioning whether or not his madness is real- if it is, he lies to his friends and family, is extremely manipulative traits which could only be described as villainous. The characters pick up on the fact that Hamlet's madness may not be genuine, they talk of how he can 'feign madness' 'feign' means to pretend therefore the language could only be suggesting that Hamlet is pretending to be mad. ...read more.


Gertrude and Claudius perhaps underestimate the effect their marriage has on Hamlet so soon after his Father's death and they, it would seem to be wrongly, interpret that as the only reason for his melancholy. Hamlet says, when talking to Guilderstern and Rosencrantz that ' 'Tis as easy as lying'. The way in which he uses to portray the fact that he knows Guilderstern and Rosencrantz have an ulterior motive for visiting is through the simile of how easy it is to play the flute. The emphasis falls on the comparison of playing the flute and of lying, Hamlet is suggesting that he suspects the motive without actually saying so, therefore Rosencrantz and Guilderstern admit their motives. The ill-fated person who falls victim to Hamlet's harsh wit primarily is Ophelia. Ophelia states that 'Tis brief my lord' to which Hamlet replies 'As a woman's love' this insult disguised as wit on Hamlet's part is not only due to Ophelia's rejection, nor her betrayal but to Ophelia and also to Gertrude(and her sudden marriage), Hamlet hides his bitterness behind harsh words that he attempts to pass across as a mixture of his wit and madness. ...read more.


The quote accentuates Hamlet's views on women, and demeans them by suggesting they are only useful for sexual matters, which in the eyes of society at the time, was probably true. A characteristic that Hamlet illustrates is pathetic procrastinating, take his monologue on contemplating suicide, he talks of doing so yet he uses his religion as a reason not to do so he says 'to be or not to be that is the question' but in his state of mind at the time he was slightly exaggerating, if he had seriously intended to kill himself he would have done so. The metaphor he uses for death is fairly simple, rather than 'to live' he says 'to be' the uncomplicated matter in which he states such an important decision suggest that he may have been considering this option for some time. A swift comparison may be made between Hamlet finding out his Father was killed by his Uncle and by Laertes finding out his Father was killed by his sister's ex-lover, the difference in reaction is phenomenally different. Hamlet procrastinates killing Claudius whereas Laertes instantaneously wants to kill Hamlet (although the persuasion on Claudius' part was due to doing so in such a sly way). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    Still, it's grand being part of things. One can find similar ideas in Montaigne, Proverbs 16:9, and the modern Christian saying, "A person proposes, God disposes." Horatio remarks that it'll only be a short time before the king finds out about the execution of the spies. Hamlet says life itself is short ("The interim is mine, / And a man's life's no more than to say 'One'.")

  2. How does Shakespeare use language to describe Claudius as a villain?

    He is lavish with words in this scene making a great show of his deep empathy for Gertrude, for Laertes, for Ophelia even for Hamlet. "O Gertrude, Gertrude /when sorrows come they come not in single spies/ but in battalions".

  1. How Does Shakespeare's Language Portray Claudius As An Intellectual Villain?

    letting them know he is against it, he will win the people over. Claudius knows that to be successful he needs to win over Polonius, not only as an advisor but as someone he can use and trust. He does this by announcing that Polonius' son Laertes may have his leave.

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    O earth! What else? And shall I couple hell? -" I remember nothing equal to this burst unless it be the first speech of Prometheus in the Greek drama, after the exit of Vulcan and the two Afrites. But Shakspere alone could have produced the vow of Hamlet to make his memory a blank of all maxims and generalized

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work