Hamlet His Own Victim
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Hamlet, His Own Victim
Hamlet, the main character in William Shakespeares play Hamlet is a deeply intelligent and reflective man. Hamlet is compelled by justice and filial duty to revenge his fathers murder; he is also simultaneously riddled with self-doubt and moral conscience. Hamlet is quite disturbed by the sudden death of his father and his mothers hasty marriage to his uncle, King Claudius. Hamlets character is naturally withdrawn, dark, and morose in the wake of these traumatic events. The abnormality of his thoughts, or madness and behavior is to some extent understandable. The most obvious issue in this play can be stated in the simple question, of why Hamlet delays taking revenge for his fathers death.
While critics offer various answers to why Hamlet delays his revenge their theories generally differ in two distinct ways; one group focuses on the inner workings of Hamlets mind as the primary cause of his procrastination while others stress the external obstacles that prohibit the prince from carrying out his task. Critics who find the cause of Hamlets delay in his internal meditations typically view the prince as a man of great moral integrity who is forced to commit an act that goes against his deepest principles. Another perspective of Hamlets internal struggle suggests that the prince has become so disenchanted with life since his fathers death, that he has neither the desire nor the will to exact revenge. On numerous occasions, the prince tries to make sense of his moral dilemma through personal meditations, which Shakespeare presents as soliloquies like “And whatsoever else should hap tonight, Give it an understanding but no tongue” (I, ii.254-255), and “though hell itself should gape/And bid me to hold my peace. I pray you all” (I, ii.251-252).
Hamlet has been shocked and appalled that in the midst of his grief, Gertrude his mother, has yielded to Claudiuss advances and married him only two months after her husbands funeral. To the prince, these external obstacles have degraded the Danish court to nothing more than “an unweeded garden, / That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely” (I.ii.135-36). With such heavy matters weighing on his mind, the ghost of his father only complicates Hamlets ability to make decisions, leading to many other interludes of self-questioning and prolonged inaction. Moreover, for the same reason, he gives vent to his abject mood with lines like “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/Seems to me all the uses of this world!” (I.ii. 133-134). In order to go on living, and live a productive life, Hamlet has to solve the problem raised in this soliloquy. He is a grief-stricken man, caught in the middle of a great number of difficulties and dangers. The only remedy to his problem lies in the curing of his mind. Only then will he be able to rise above the many serious problems he faces.
Hamlets quandary is dramatized in what is perhaps the most famous soliloquy Shakespeare wrote, “To be or not to be, that is the question: (III.i.57). Hamlet, educated apparently