Personal Responce to Hamlet

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Essay One – Question 1

Personal response to Hamlet and its enduring power of Shakespeare’s Characterization

Shakespeare’s characterization of the characters allows the exploration of ideals that are relevant to all human beings regards of context. In “Hamlet” Shakespeare uses the characterization of Hamlet to examine the human quest for answers about death, duty and the opposing forces of moral integrity and the need to avenge his father. This essay will bring characterization to the forefront in response to how it has shaped the play of “Hamlet”.

A great deal of characterization of Hamlet is presented through the use of soliloquies. In his soliloquies, Hamlet shows his true feelings of dejection and disillusionment. The soliloquy starts with a supposition, “O that this too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew”. Hamlet is clearly seen as an escapist as he wants to run away from his duties and responsibilities. Here, he again gives the audience the impression that he is aware of his flaw. His wish to commit suicide is expressed clearly, but he knows he can’t do so as it goes against the laws of God. “That the Everlasting had not fixed his cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter.” Life has become a very futile exercise for him, where nothing seems to be holding his interest anymore. It has becomes very colorless and meaningless. We notice all this when he says, “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of the world!” His self-criticism becomes more obvious to the reader when he says in another soliloquy, “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!”  He puts himself in the lowest rank of the social order, amongst the peasants. He admits to the audience that he is a coward by saying, “Why, what an ass am I!” Hamlet seems to know exactly what his problem is, as he himself admits that he does nothing but “unpack my heart with words”. The audience by now is well aware of Hamlet’s desire to end his life, but later Hamlet questions his very existence by asking, “To be, or not to be-that is the question”. That is the existential question that is yet to be answered. Once more, we see Hamlet as an escapist as he wants to opt out of life instead of avenging his father’s death. He also asks, “Must I remember?” so we see that for Hamlet, oblivion is better than remembrance because for him, to remember is to grieve. He wonders whether it is wiser to remain unaware, unconscious, blind and deaf to what is happening around him. He shows a sensitive awareness of life. His soul-searching gives rise to a lot of conflicting questions and instead of facing them and finding a solution, he wants to give up his life. He is aware that man has to suffer manifold problems and be victimized by fortune (“the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’), but he is also aware that death is a “consummation devoutly to be wished”. He wishes to sleep that is the metaphor of death, but he also dreads “what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil”. The Human existence is compared to a mechanism that is infested with sorrows. Hamlet also contemplates life after death and seeks to find an answer. He finally comes to this result that it is better to “bear those ills” we have now “than to fly to others that we know not of”. Life is painful and that is a known reality. But life after death is an unknown reality, an “undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns”. The “dread of something after death” makes it better to “grunt and sweat under a weary life”.

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To further characterise Hamlet one must take into fact the ideas of conflict between religion and faith with honour and duty. This is shown through Hamlet’s ability to contradict his own decisions without realising it. An example of this is when he says “His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter. O God, God,” in this he is referring to suicide, which is seen as a blasphemous action to partake and thus forbidden from doing so. The repetition of “God” creates the feeling of desperation in Hamlet, thus enforcing the view that he is dismal. In contradiction to his prior decision to not ...

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This is an excellent essay which shows a very good understanding of the text and context. The writer uses well selected quotes and generally integrates these effectively. The essay makes a number of different, well developed points. *****