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Hamlet - Hero or villain?

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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.

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