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Examine critically the character of Hamlet as revealed through his soliloquies.

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Introduction

Examine critically the character of Hamlet as revealed through his soliloquies. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is considered to be one of the greatest playwrights of the 16th century and 'Hamlet' was one of his immortal tragedies that has created most critical and public opinion. His plays offer timeless messages but his attitudes and beliefs are all Elizabethan. All his plays dealt with themes that man could relate to anytime, in any age. That is why Shakespeare's plays are said to be "not of an age, but for all time". The protagonist of the play, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has a very complex character. He was a scholar prince, and a very meditative and philosophical one. He loved to read, and was planning to pursue further education but fate had different plans for him. He was thrust in a situation, which required immediate action, which he knew he was incapable of. He couldn't be a man of action, which the situation demanded, and that was the heart f the tragedy. To top all that was his mother's hasty marriage to his uncle, which had a psychological effect on him and wounded him emotionally. His disgust for his mother's hasty marriage is clearly seen with his direct reference to sex when he says, "As if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on." Hamlet himself admits that fate had chosen the wrong person to take revenge as he was aware of his incapabilities and knew what his problem was. ...read more.

Middle

Suggestions of death echo throughout Hamlet's speeches, and his death-wish colours his talk and after this speech the audience realize that Hamlet is indeed, incapable of action. The Elizabethan/Tudor concept of the Divine Right of Kings is also reflected in Hamlet's soliloquies. This concept is the belief that the king of a state is God's appointed and that killing of a king would have unnatural consequences on the whole state. The Elizabethans believed that life was lived in an order and killing a king was a crime against the social order. A king's decisions and whatever happened to him would have an indirect effect on the state. This idea is reflected in Hamlet's speech when he compares the world, mainly Denmark, to an "unweeded garden that grows no seed" because he feels that there is a reversal of things where inferiority is valued. "Things gross and rank in nature possess it merely." Hamlet says this in reference to Claudius being the king, 'possessing' the kingdom. The Tudor concept of the Divine right of Kings is seen here because according to the belief, the King isn't an individual- he represents the whole state and the actions of a King would eventually affect his kingdom. Hamlet seems to be starkly aware of that fact too, because he states that Claudius marriage to his mother will "not, nor it cannot come to good". ...read more.

Conclusion

He also makes a direct reference to sex when he says, "she would hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on". Hamlet's speeches were mostly charged with suggestions and they become more emotionally charged. Hamlet's talks are weighed down with his views of the world. His philosophy reflects his views of the world. His speeches were also charged with cynicism and this cynicism was particularly directed at Denmark and its people. Every word Hamlet utters is weighed down with sarcasm, cynicism and bitterness. Hamlet's main problems are procrastination and vacillation. In modern terms, some people may also call Hamlet as being obsessive. Some may also state that Hamlet may be suffering from psychonuerosis- a state of mind where a person is unduly driven or prevented by the unconscious thought of his mind and Shakespeare has skillfully presented this condition with remarkable insight. Hamlet is a round character who evolves in front of the audience's eyes. The Hamlet seen at the end of the play is not the same Hamlet we see in the beginning. Hamlet can be seen as an ordinary man in pursuit of revenge that he puts off for too long. He is what modern psychoanalysts would call maniac depressive-a term for people who show disgust for themselves and for the world. 'Hamlet' was a touching story, of a man, incapable of action and caught in the vortex of philosophical ramblings and in the end, the audience sympathized with the protagonist, who had every quality worthy of a man, but was cursed with one flaw. ...read more.

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