Get help from the best in academic writing.

Free Hamlet Essays: Importance of Minor Characters

Importance of Minor Characters in Hamlet

A now-dead philosopher once said that people need three relationships in life—confidant, lover, mentor. Horatio acts as Hamlet’s confidant, fulfilling that relationship for Hamlet. As a result, we can contrast Hamlet’s dialogue with Horatio to Hamlet’s soliloquies.

In Act III, Scene 2, lines 65-70 Hamlet tells Horatio about his idea: to use the players to prove Cladius’s guilt.

There is a play to-night before the king; 65

One scene of it comes near the circumstance

Which I have told thee of my father’s death:

I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,

Even with the very comment of thy soul

Observe mine uncle… 70

Hamlet isn’t commanding Horatio to do this—the relationship isn’t based on Hamlet’s princehood. Hamlet has fully told Horatio what he suspects. He has confided in Horatio.

From our perspective as readers, this relationship gives us insight into Hamlet’s state of mind. One great question about Hamlet is whether Hamlet is mad. The things Hamlet tells Horatio indicate that Hamlet is perfectly sane. Hamlet declares (alone) in Act II, Scene 2, line 535-538, “Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,/ That I, the son of the dear murderèd,/ Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,/ Must like a whore unpack my heart with words.” These lines alone don’t point toward or away from madness. But look at it with III, 2, 65-70 in mind. We see him resolve to prove Cladius’s guilt; understand the situation as it really is; and talk with Horatio, telling him how he feels. All these things show Hamlet as rational, calculating, perceptive—sane. And we know this because Horatio is there.

In Act V, Scene 2, Hamlet stabbed Laertes, watched his mother die, and poured poison down his uncle’s throat. How can we possibly know what Hamlet is thinking, especially because he will soon be dead himself? Horatio the Confidant is there, the good friend who will listen to Hamlet, who would kill himself to follow Hamlet, who vows to devote his life to Hamlet’s message.

Another big question about Hamlet: Did Hamlet’s revenge come at too great a price? It’s a judgment call: the evidence can be interpreted either way. That there is evidence at all is due to Horatio. In lines 321-328, Hamlet tells Horatio this:

As thou’rt a man,

Give me the cup: let go; by heaven, I’ll have’t.

O good Horatio, what a wounded name,

Free Hamlet Essays: Women in Hamlet GCSE English Literature Coursework

Women in Hamlet In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet there are two main women characters (Ophelia- who ends up mad, and Gertrude- who ends up dead). is it simply a coincidence that these women, the only women in the play end up letting themselves bew, and are continually manipulate, controlled, and taked advantage of by the male characters in teh play? is it truly coincidentalkt htat when ophilia’s love- hamlet- is taken away from her that she goes amd, and when Gertrude is suddenly without a husband, she marries hsi brother? These things asre not coincidence. They were done purposefully, now the questions is why>? Why did Shakespeare choose to portray the women in his play Hamlet like this, and why did he have the other characters in the play relate o them as frail, weka, and even as letter humans? the truth is that every writer, when writing will capture a bit- no matter how small- of themselves in their work. there work will be a reflectionf of their perspectives, of their opinions, and of them. This comes as no surprise, because if you aren’t going to write your own ideas, what is the significance of writing at all? Shakespeare- for whatever reason’s- thinks of women as how they are portrayed ih his plays. he considers them weak, frail, un-able to function for themselves without the help of a man, and less deserving of the prosperities that it means to be human. This is obviously shown when Hamloet shows his own disdain for woman kind by saying, “fragility,m thy name is woman (p.29)!” in those five words, hamlet basically sums it up. ?he pulls together all the feelings bout women that indirectly stated and shown throughout thebook. he is sayint that to e a boman that the very essence of a woman,m is one who is frail, one who is weak. now Shakespeare must have at least some feelings towards women that agree with that statement, if he is going to put somehting so strongly stating that point into his play . Later on in the play Shakespeare again clearly shows his views of women when hae has Hamlet say to Op[helia, “Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder opf sinners (p.130)?” Here hamlet is tellling Ophelia that he never loved her, and that she should go to a nunnery, rather than marry and pass her genes on to children who would end up “sinners.” Here Hamlet is sayint that when children are born and they are sinners, it’s the mother’s fault. Healso makes this clear when he says a line later, “I am myself indifferent honest,m but yet i could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me (p. 130).” in both of these quotes, it is obvcious that Shakespeare thinks that since it is the woman who bears the child, if the child is a sinner, or a bad person, it is because of the mother, and it is actually the mother who has sinned. in these aquotes, Shakespeare is basically just putting his onw words and thoughts into hamlet’s mouth, because these views of women keep comming up throughout the play. Not only in Hamlet do Shakespeare’s views of women show through, but also in many of his other plays. Take The Taming of the Shrew for instance. First of all just the name. the play is about a man (Petruchio) who wants to marry this woman (Katherina), not because he loves her, but because he wants a wife, and he also wants her moneyu (she is rich). The only thing is, that this woman is a strong willed woman, who will speak her mind. the plot of the play, is that Petruchio needs to “tame” Hatherina, because there is “obviously something wrong with her” if she is goign to actually speak her mind, e strong, and be a woman of all things. Although the play is a comedy, it says something not so comedic about Shakespeare, if he is goign to put a strong woman in his play,m and then make it out that ther eis something wrong with her, that she is a “shrew”, and that she does need to be tamed. There are others who feel that Shakespeare was making a statemet=nt when he wrome The Taming of the Shrew, because even before the play begins, there is a section entitled “War of the SExes” which attempts to apologize for Shakespeare’s “attutude towards women.” It even says that in this section, “petruchios treatment towards katherina is harsh and brutal (p.vii).” And taht, “Protagonists of women’ts righrts have taken Shakespeare to task for his vacalier disregard of eleementary justice to womean and his own apparent approval of Petruchio’s conduct (p. vii).” Here Shakespeares view on women is stated clearly. he writes a play about a woman needing to be tamed by her husban, because she is strong willed, and not afraid to speak her mind. he writes about her husband treating her brutally and even seems to support how POetruchio treats Katherina, s if he sagrees that a woman who is anything ut quiet, getnle fragile and weak, needs to be tamed, and taught to act “normal.” It is obvioujs how Shakespeare feels agbout women, because not only do his views that women are not equal to men, are fragile, and are weak, shine through in hamlet, but also in another of his plays, the taming of the shrew. One of Shakespeares great gifts was that he was incredibly smart, a gbenious even. But at times even this gift of his worked against him. In the beginning of hamlet before the play even begins there is a brief summery of what is known of shakespeares past. At one point it said that “Shakesperaew wan and uneducated genious (T.W. Baldwin pg. 333).” What this means, is that shakespeare had a brilliant miund, wasn ub believable smart, and could think on a very deep level but that he wasnt highle educated. So inother words, he was very smart, in his own way of thing9ink, but since he was not educated, he had not been tauthgt to accept, or even acknowledge other people’s ideas and views. This is probsalby one of the reasonsns that he had such strong nega=tive voews of women, and portrayed them that way. maybbe all the womeen in his life were weak, and vulnearable, who knows? But whatever he was exposed to , was how he thought, and since he hadn’t been taught to listen to, accept or at least acknowledge the views of others, he wasn’t willing or didn’t even want to change his views of woment and this showed through in his plays. there are many things that point to shakespeare viewing women as weak, fragile, and less equal compared to men. there’s the way he all the omen in Hamlet living up to these viewsn, and how all the other male characters relate tot the women in Hamlet like this. There’s the way in other plays of his, that he has strong women, but he also has them made out to have somethign wrong with them, so that they need to be “fixed.” Thjere’s thew point that Shakespeare was so smart, that it worked against him, as well as with him. An d lastly there is also the common fact that all writers, no matter how hard they try not to, capture a piece of themselves int heir work. With all these things leanig towards shakpeseare viewing women inadequately, it is pretty clear that he does. Since facts about shakespeare’s past are pretty foggy, we may never know ehy. It could hvae been his expoeriences with women, or how society treated and thought of womean at that time. The point is, that no matter what caused him to feel that way, Shakespeare did think of women as weak, and fragile, and this clearly showed in his work.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.