In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the character of Hamlet is often portrayed as a weak-minded individual, whose lack of purpose leads to seven unnecessary deaths. This is a valid interpretation, but not a very interesting one.
Hamlet is considered a tragedy, but it is also quite similar to a modern-day murder mystery. As such the most crucial plot element is Claudius’ guilt, or, rather, the extent of Hamlet’s knowledge of this guilt. One does not know if the ghost is the doomed spirit of Hamlet’s father or a vision sent from Hell. It is impossible to determine how much Hamlet is aware of, how much can he guess, and how much is he deluding himself.
Hamlet is almost always performed as a tragedy, and Hamlet’s “indecision” is universally accepted as the flaw. “If he had only made up his mind”, people argue, “eight deaths could have been avoided.” This, of course, is a very easy position for one to take, because we already know that Claudius is guilty. It would be a much more interesting piece if one could be left uncertain of the true facts. Due to the popularity of Hamlet, the fact that Claudius is guilty is taken for granted, and so it seems unfortunate that Hamlet cannot act sooner, but without this knowledge acting too quickly would be a mistake.
In the text, however, there is no clear evidence of wrongdoing until Claudius confesses his sins to God, his nephew, and the theater at large. Up until that point Hamlet is weighing the Ghost’s story against the king’s. The ghost accuses in Act I, but Hamlet is perceptive enough not to accept the being at its word. One thing that he realizes is that the Ghost is playing directly to his own emotions.
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…mbines the best qualities as his two foils: the nobility of Laertes’ cause, and the execution of Fortinbras’ coup. Fortinbras attacks without justice – his father died honorably in a fair fight, on the battlefield. Laertes has a larger grievance than Hamlet, but must stoop to treachery to complete his vengeance. Hamlet, however, remains true throughout, resisting his impulses until he cannot only perform Vengeance, but Justice as well.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations Of Hamlet. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
Charney, Maurice. All of Shakespeare. New York, NY. Columbia University Press. 1993.
Magill, Frank N. Masterplots. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1995.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Riverside Shakespeare. ED. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Haughton Mifflin Company, 1974.
An Ethical View of Hamlet
An Ethical View of Hamlet
In the play Hamlet, a number of questions arise–was it truly necessary for all the blood and murder to be written to make a point? Were his actions that followed, rational or justified? Was it ethical? Granted for the time period, many barbaric actions were regarded as accepted or justifiable, however, was there one point where Hamlet could have gone past the accepted level of shall we say, normality?Ethics (n), branch of Philosophy concerned with conduct–the determination of the good, and the right and wrong.
Socrates questioned what Justice and Temperance really meant and where it’s applications were. Though others frowned on this indulgence, they were forced to consider his thoughts as well. Instead of merely acknowledging the nouns and using them regardless of what they truly meant. Was what Hamlet doing “wrong”? If so, what is “wrong”?First, we should look into the issue of which field we draw the term “right”. It is only appropriate to set the mood in England, late 1600. The economy is run by brute and barter, modern medicine included amputation, leeching and blood-letting. A man could be imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread and a maid can be ravished by her master, and nothing would be out of place. If someone wronged you, you were entitled to wrong them back, and this done with gusto. With no remorse for the moral or religious faculties of our present day society.
All the revenge, incest, murder, betrayal and hard-core violence that we’ve all come to love from Shakespeare; was it all done for naught? Is the message being translated across properly? Hamlet is supposed to be the hero and all the trials and tribulations that follow him only make him stronger and the justice more imminent-right? Did Hamlet go too far? Hamlet’s father comes back from a peculiar death and finds his wife married with his brother and his son in shambles. After communicating the truth to Hamlet, it is expected that this story should be finished quite simply and quickly. However, this is not the case. Hamlet wants to make sure he himself has not gone insane and imagined his father’s figure telling him the achievable means to, a quick relief of his overwhelming torment. Hamlet now begins the long painstaking process of validating the funny voice inside his head that tells him to kill his uncle who is now his father since he is now married to Hamlet’s mother.