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It is sometimes said that, to be effective, any character in a play must be 'larger than life' - Argue for or against this opinion by referring to at least one major and one minor character in Hamlet.

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Introduction

Katarina Kollarova English Literature Class 12 Essay Topic 5 - It is sometimes said that, to be effective, any character in a play must be 'larger than life'. Argue for or against this opinion by referring to at least one major and one minor character in Hamlet. William Shakespeare's Hamlet has been posing questions for centuries. He has fascinated audiences and readers all around the world mainly because there is always more to him than the other characters in the play can figure out. No matter how careful we are when reading the play, we get the feeling that there is still a lot about Hamlet that we don't know about. Hamlet even tells the other characters in the play that there is more to him than meets the eye and we become more aware of this as the play progresses. Does this mean that Hamlet is 'larger than life'? First of all we need to define its meaning. When something is 'larger than life' it suggests that the person or the thing is somewhat abnormal, something that we don't get to see in our reality. ...read more.

Middle

This embarrasses him and he dismisses it with "But let that go." Hamlet is a university student whose studies are interrupted by his father's death and his mother's marriage. Hamlet has a very philosophical side to him. He is drawn to difficult questions or issues that cannot be answered, such as his father's death. Hamlet's only evidence of his father's murder cannot be rationally explained as it was given to him by his father's Ghost and Hamlet doesn't know whether to believe it or not and always seeks further evidence. Hamlet becomes obsessed with proving his uncle's guilt before trying to act. He is also repeatedly considering whether or not suicide is morally correct, in his situation. Hamlet's grief and misery is so unbearable that he begins to long for death to end his suffering. In Hamlet's "To be, or not to be, that is the question" soliloquy, he concludes that no one would cope and endure the pain of life if they were not afraid of what will come after death. Hamlet prefers to talk about his grief than to act but when he does act, it's swift and unpredictable like when he ...read more.

Conclusion

Hamlet had a reason to act mad and foolishly but Polonious had no reason to betray his two children Ophelia and Laertes. If we compare both characters to the character of Horatio, we can see all the differences there are between them. Horatio is Hamlet's close friend and counsellor. Horatio is in the same position as Polonious - they are both advisers to the royalty but Horatio's character is highly believable and simple. He is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play and his friendship is so strong he considers to kill himself at the end of the play in order to follow Hamlet. Horatio is clearly not larger than life but has the same effect as Polonious if not bigger, because he is a much nicer, more generous and appreciated person. He is the only character in the play to stay alive and is later used to explain the situation to Fortinbras. This is because he was so loyal to Hamlet and is very trustworthy. I don't think that any character must be larger than life in order to be effective. Hamlet and Horatio are both extremely effective characters in the play but they are not larger then life and still they are unique and memorable. ...read more.

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