"Hamlet is a character about whom we are told so much, yet we know little. Do you agree?"

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Marc Chapman

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“Hamlet is a character about whom we are told so much, yet we know little. Do you agree?”

This essay will discuss the character of Hamlet and the ways he potrays himself across to the reader. It highlights his introspection, puns, and thoughts of death, thoughts of women and his “madness”. These all help to find out more about Hamlets character.


Hamlet first introduces us to his character through famous soliloquies however this is not the only way of finding out who or what he is. In his first scene Hamlet speaks to his mother, and mocks her lack of grief for his father, her dead husband. "I have that within which passeth show” and “These but the trappings and the suits of woe". At this point in the speech, Hamlet may merely mean that his grief for his father is genuine, but "passeth show" may also mean that he has some sort of feeling that can't be shown by "the trappings and suits of woe"--his black clothing and cloudy face. Hamlet says that the King is "My father's brother, but no more like my father, than I to Hercules". This comment, which appears in Hamlet's first soliloquy, makes it appear that Hamlet does not consider himself particularly strong or heroic. He uses extreme examples to show his “cowardliness”. "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!” says Hamlet at the beginning of his second soliloquy. He blames himself for lack of passion and accuses himself of cowardice.  

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Through this approach that Hamlet seems to use many times, it is hard to know if Hamlet is telling the truth or acting a fool. "I have of late but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth", says Hamlet to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. After discovering that they are spying on him, he says he'll tell them what's wrong with him, to save them the trouble of finding out for themselves. Because of this, it again highlights how hard it is to tell how to take the famous speech. When he says "man delights not me” is he sincere, or is ...

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