Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. The young Prince Hamlet is the protagonist of the play and is portrayed as a very emotional soul, a daring, brave character with a violent temper.
Hamlet is a very emotional young man who struggles to cope with the death of his beloved father.
‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, / Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, / No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected havior of the visage, /Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed seem, / For they are actions that a man might play;
But I have that within which passeth show, / These but the trappings and the suits of woe (I.i.82-91).
He lets it be known that, regardless of how grief-stricken he might outwardly appear, his appearance cannot hold a candle to how miserable he feels inside.
Claudius, speaking as one who is incapable of reaching Hamlet’s depth of emotion, mentions that Hamlet is taking the mourning of his father’s death to extremes:
To give these mourning duties to your father; /But you must know,
your father lost a father;/ That father lost, lost his, and the
survivor bound/ in filial obligation for some term to do
obsequious sorrow (I.ii.94-98).
The King tells Hamlet that death is a part of the natural order of things and he should get over it. In his mental state, Hamlet is greatly disturbed by the fact that his mother does not share his sense of pain and loss. Once he learns of the murder, he berates himself for not “stepping up to the plate” and avenging his father’s death. Hamlet wonders, “How stand I then, /That have father killed, a mother stained”(IV.iv.58-59). He is asking himself what kind of a person he is if he can allow his father to be murdered and his mother to be married to his uncle so soon after his father’s death.
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post/ with such
dexterity to incestuous sheets!/ It is not, nor it cannot come to
good./ But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue (I.ii.162-165)!
Hamlet feels that the marriage is not good, nor can this marriage between Claudius and Gertrude come to any good.
Tragedy of Polonius’ Family in Hamlet
Tragedy of Polonius’ Family in Hamlet Shakespeare
In Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the death of a character becomes a frequent event. Although many people lose their lives as a result of their own self-centered wrongdoing, there are others whose deaths are the result of manipulation by royalty. This is the case with Polonius’ family. The real tragedy of Hamlet is not that of Hamlet or his family, but of Polonius’ family, because their deaths were not the consequence of sinful actions of their own but, rather, of their innocent involvement in the schemes of Claudius and Hamlet.
The first character to die, in Hamlet, is Polonius. Although Polonius often acts in a deceitful manner when dealing with Hamlet, it is only because he is carrying out royally devised plans to discover the nature of Hamlet’s madness. Being the king’s Lord Chamberlain, it is his duty to obey the wishes of the king and queen and it is this loyalty that eventually proves to be fatal for him. Hamlet stabs Polonius as he hides in the Queen’s room. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better”(III.iv.38-39). This shows how Polonius, a man unaware of the true nature of the situation he is in, is killed by a member of the royalty during the execution of one of their schemes. This makes Polonius’ death a tragedy.
The next member of Polonius’ family, to die, is his daughter, Ophelia. Ophelia’s death is tragic because of her complete innocence in the situation. Some may argue that Polonius deserves his fate because of his deceitfulness in dealing with Hamlet while he is mad; but Ophelia is entirely manipulated and used, by Hamlet and the king, for their own selfish reasons. Hamlet uses her to convince his family he is mad.
He took me by the wrist and held me hard;
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it. Long stayed he so”(II.i.98-102).
Although this is subject to interpretation, and many believe that this is simply Hamlet taking one last look at Ophelia before he becomes engaged in his plan to kill Claudius, the fact that he scares her and does not try to alleviate these fears, points to the conclusion that he is simply using her to help spread word of his madness throughout the kingdom, via Polonius.