Hamlet the Great





Hamlet the Great
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “through the heroism and nobility of its hero, his superior power of insight into, and reflection upon, his situation, and his capacity to suffer the moral anguish which moral responsibility brings,” is considered one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. Throughout the play, Hamlet, through both soliloquies and actions, displays these characteristics, which make Hamlet such an important and intriguing individual.
Hamlet’s heroism and nobility displayed throughout most of the play, classify Hamlet as a tragedy that “towers above other plays of its kind.” The main reason Hamlet is considered honorable and noble is because of the audience’s sympathy for Hamlet. At the beginning of the play, he has just lost his father, and immediately his mother and uncle marry. Hamlet’s anguish is justifiably explained when Gertrude states, “If it be/ why seems it so particular with thee?” Hamlet responds, “‘Seems’ madam? Nay, it is.” Hamlet is obviously upset about the death of his father and circumstances of the marriage between Gertrude and Claudius. This situation intends to evoke sympathy for Hamlet from the reader. The sympathy becomes more significant in Act I, Scene 5, when the Ghost appears to Hamlet. The Ghost tells Hamlet that he, King Hamlet, is “Doomed for a certain term to walk the night/And for the day confined to fast in fires/ Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature / Are burnt and purged away,” and that Claudius, “in the porches of my ears did pour/ The leprous distilment.” Thus, King Hamlet’s murder, due to the high esteem kings are held to as a “divine ruler,” makes the Ghost a more sympathetic figure to the reader. This then justifies Hamlet’s eventual choice to seek revenge and kill Claudius. Although society tends to favor forgiveness and mercy of Christianity over the “eye for an eye” notion, Shakespeare pleads with them to understand the notion of revenge as a noble and heroic characteristic in this circumstance. A second illustration of Hamlet’s heroism and nobility is in his perception of Laertes. Hamlet recognizes himself in Laertes by saying, “But I am sorry, good Horatio,/That to Laertes I forgot myself,/ For the image of my cause, I see/ The portraiture of his. I’ll court his favors./ But sure the bravery of his grief did put me/ Into towering passion.” He understands Laertes’ motives for taking revenge on Hamlet, because Hamlet went through the same situation with Claudius. Hamlet, by admitting this and forgiving Laertes for killing him, is perceived as honorable and courageous. Hamlet, because of his circumstances and actions, evoke sympathy from the reader for him, and in turn portray him as a heroic and honorable character.
Shakespeare has a great ability to show insight or reflection upon the situations in Hamlet, often through Hamlet’s soliloquies. An example of this is when Hamlet, because of the death of his father and incestuous nature of his mother, considers committing suicide. He portrays this to the audience in a soliloquy when he states, “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/ Seem to me all the uses of this world!” because his mother, who “within a month…/she followed my poor father’s body…/married with my uncle.” This then moves Hamlet into a suicidal state, and the only reason he does not succumb to his feelings is because of “His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter.” As a reader, one has the ability to understand the essence of Hamlet’s emotions towards what is happening in his life through this soliloquy whereas one would not be sure how Hamlet was feeling without it. A second example of Hamlet revealing his insight and reflection on his situation is through his famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be.” Hamlet’s dilemma of whether he should seek revenge on Claudius motivates the entire soliloquy. If he decides to do the deed, he is sure he will die himself. Hamlet fears the unknown, and since death is unknown, he fears death and is not yet ready for it. He admits this cowardice when he states, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” He realizes that he has a responsibility to avenge his father’s death, but by doing this will relegate himself to his father’s fate. It is insight into his character that allows us to