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How does Hamlet's character develop during the play?

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Introduction

How does Hamlet's character develop during the play? The character of Hamlet develops in many complex ways throughout the play. Shakespeare develops the character incorporating all the major elements of what has now become to be known as a "revenge play". The main conventions and strict formula of a "revenge play" are all observed in Hamlet. Just as in Hamlet, all the "revenge plays" contain the appearance of a ghost who cries for revenge. The hero must disguise himself in order to obtain the information he needs to justify his acts of revenge. Sometimes the hero employs physical disguise; at other times he feigns madness which threatens to become real. Also, a female character goes mad from excessive grief. The main villain is a scheming politician who has murdered for both lust and power. The hero is forced by some circumstance to delay the consummation of his plot. Finally the act of revenge demands the death of the revenger as well. Hamlet as a character goes through many changes during the play; states of madness, anguish, sorrow and desire for vengeance. In parts of the play he is not able to cope with the stresses and strains that his elusive form of revenge is thrusting upon him. ...read more.

Middle

So he is caught in this very complicated decision. Hamlet suffers great anguish because he is analysing everything and feels unable to take immediate action. His character is that of an honourable man, and he considers his father to have been an honourable king. As an honourable man he cannot take a straight forward "eye for an eye" type of revenge. But by the same token, he feels great guilt that he is not taking the action that people of the time would expect of him. Hamlet's character is also full of contradictions too. He behaves in a way which is dishonourable by killing Polonius. He is very ruthless when he rewrites the warrant that sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths: I will delve one yard below their mines And blow them at the moon. (Act 3, scene 4) He also behaves very badly towards Ophelia. Hamlet's character shows great moral complexity. He takes a very rigid and unbending view of female honour. He thinks both Gertrude and Ophelia lacked purity. He attacks Ophelia in Act 3, scene 1, when he is "mad": Get thee to a nunnery-why wouldst though be a breeder of sinners? But he is also aware of his own character flaws and weaknesses, and the character has much self-loathing: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, or time to act them in... ...read more.

Conclusion

Hamlet's longing for death is shown a great deal over the course of the play. It occurs in Act 3, scene 1: To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows o outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles... We also learn that because Hamlet's inability "to do" rather than merely just "to be" is another reason for his tragic death. His tendency to reflect rather than act is shown in his speech mainly about death: Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pitch and moment With this regard their currents turn awry And lose the name of action. Soft you now, We have learnt over the course of the play Hamlet is a melancholic young man with thoughts always focusing on one main obsession of death. He demonstrates himself to be at times a man of action but also a man whose indecisiveness leads to his own death. His delay and unfocused thoughts on revenge also result in the deaths of six other characters. But most of all it is his moral integrity that proves to be the tragic flaw of Hamlet's character. ?? ?? ?? ?? Robdeep Sangha 10CJ (10S) GCSE English Coursework ...read more.

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