Hamlet - A Universal Man Essay

This essay has a total of 2013 words and 9 pages.

Hamlet - A Universal Man

The tragedy and situation in the play ‘Hamlet' has been commented on as ‘universal.'
Audiences of many different cultures can enjoy ‘Hamlet' even though it is set in an
alien culture to them. The reasons for this are that many people can relate to the play,
they feel that they are living though a profound experience, even if nothing in the plot
of Hamlet has ever happened to them. The experience of ‘Hamlet' is not restricted to the
plot and its characters.

A large factor in this universal acceptance is that the main character, Hamlet, around
whom the entire play revolves, is realist and ‘universal' himself. In this Hamlet is
merely a reflection of aspects found in all men, he is a symbol for how any man would act
given the situation. If he reacts the way you would react, that makes him a very easy to
relate to and sympathetic character.

This does not mean that Hamlet reflects the common man and his action, or Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern would be more probable ‘universal men.' Hamlet reflects what the common man
wishes and feels he could do if he were given the chance. Hamlet is 'superhuman' in this
sense. He is able to find the strength to act though his tragic situation with out giving
in to easier ways and temptations along the way. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are more
common man than universal, for though they have loyalty to Hamlet as they have been his
friends for many years, they still have their own ambition.

(Gertrude) "Your visitation may receive such thanks
As fits a king's remembrance…
(Rosencrantz) by the sovereign power you have of us,…
(Guildenstern) Heaven make our presence and our practices
Pleasant and helpful to him! [Hamlet]" (Act1, Scene2)

They make a choice, and like Judas, they make the ‘wrong' one. They do not stand strong
and faithful to Hamlet, but act on King Claudius's behalf, in hope of recognition. This is
a ‘common' man' action, to take the favorable route on the behalf of personal interest.
Hamlet's main appeal is that he is trapped into a cycle, but he takes the noble and
faithful action to affront the situation, leaving no doubt to the audience that he is in
the right.

Though Hamlet is in a sense 'superhuman,' he is still human and easy to relate to for he
does have flaws. He is not the shining hero riding in on a white horse to save the day, he
is the youth who must figure out what to do before he can even act in minor ways. The
problems he faces are not simple ‘dragons', blatant evils for him to attack and get the
crowds cheers. Hamlet must fight the ‘snake,' the evil that lays hidden, and is all the
more dangerous being so. Hamlet does not have the crowds on his side, he is opposing an
evil no one recognizes as evil. This makes his trail all the more harder.

This complexity of evil allows Hamlets flaws to appear, for not even he recognizes the
evil at first. He first recognized flaw is that of doubt. It is a realistic flaw for him
to possess. Hamlet is told by a supernatural figure- that may or may not be his father- to
avenge himself on Claudius, the King of Denmark. It would be too naive of Hamlet if he
just took the shade at its word and used it as provocation to confront Claudius. Instead
the only way available and true to his character is to reveal Claudius's guilt, with a
witness to conform him. It is his subtle methods and slyness that rank him a 'superhuman'
again. He takes a non-aggressive (which makes him the good and ‘right' character) action
to conform Claudius's guilt. If Hamlet is wrong than no one would know Hamlet mistake, and
Claudius would not be harmed if he was innocent. Instead Hamlet proves Claudius guilt,
without making Claudius too suspicious that he has found Claudius out.

(Hamlet) "-The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king…(Act 2, Scene2)
O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost for a thousand
pound. Didst perceive…
Upon the very talk of poisoning-" (Act3. Scene2)

This clever method reflects what many people would wish to have done to prove something.
It is an unobtrusive means that spares the innocent, but condemns the guilty. This
cleverness may be beyond the average man ability, but it is what the common man wishes he
could do. Hamlet's method is a reflection of what the ‘common man' knows would be the
right action to take.

A most notable aspect of Hamlet is that he does not want to be a ‘hero.' In many ways
Hamlet tries to avoid the task set for him. Hamlet is set on his course by powers that are
beyond his control. He is pressured into conflict by the supernatural. Though he does
agree to avenge his father, he does so in an extreme rashness that he later regrets, a
repeated rashness that ultimately causes his demise.

(Hamlet) "Speak, I am bound to hear.
(Ghost) So art thou to revenge…
(Hamlet) Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift
as meditation…
May sweep to my revenge…(Act 1, Scene5)
O, what a rogue and peasant slave I am" (Act 2, Scene 2)

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