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What Makes Hamlet such a Complex Character? Essay

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Updated: May 14th, 2021

In William Shakespeare’s literary works, Hamlet, Hamlet is the most fascinating character. Shakespeare concentrates on Hamlet’s emotions, dilemma as well as inconsistency to achieve his heart desires especially revenge. Hamlet’s questionable sanity and captivating character contributes to the success of the play. The inability to decide and sentient his actions signifies the complexity in his character.

When the reader first come across Hamlet, he is sad and mourning his father’s death, King Hamlet. On closer analysis of Hamlet’s appearance, his emotional state signifies something strong or mysterious connected to his mourning.

Furthermore he tells his mother, “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” (Shakespeare Act I, Scene 2). Hamlet is unable to speak out his mind; therefore, he expresses his feelings in form of parables. Hamlet’s is unhappy because his father’s death is fading away fast.

His mother remarries Hamlet’s uncle, King Claudius, immediately after his father’s death. Therefore, instead of exclusively mourning his departed father, he mourns his mother and uncle’s betrayal to his father. Hamlet’s emotional turmoil turns to hatred and questionable madness especially towards women including Ophelia who he had once confessed his love for her.

When Hamlet’s father requests him to avenge his death against King Claudius, he is unable to carry out his revenge. Although he is vengeful, his emotions, anxiety, and morality drag him behind his mission. He is unable to fulfill his actions even if the opportunity avails itself.

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For instance, when he encounters Claudius meditating, he spares his life because he thinks the gods will forgive him. Unfortunately, his ability not to act makes him rational where he carelessly kills Polonius thinking it was a rat after, which he hides the body.

After the second appearance of his father, he secretly starts to plan on how to kill Claudius but his actions are impounded. When King Claudius, discovers Hamlet’s plan to kill him, he (Claudius) plans to kill him (Hamlet) first; unfortunately, Hamlet escapes the trap eventually killing him.

Due to the inability, to avenge his father’s death, his mission leads to the murder of Polonius, Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes, Ophelia, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz. However, the author’s mission in delaying Hamlet’s revenge is to emphasize on the complexity in his emotional state and psychological well-being.

Hamlet’s return from hiding raises eyebrows especially on King Claudius who becomes uncomfortable with his presence. The confidence and moral attitude with which he presents himself is a sign of his secret plan to kill King Claudius.

Shakespeare’s ability to change Hamlet’s character from a rational, anxious, and emotional person to a cool, confident, and moral person presents him as a round character. Hamlet is unable to kill his uncle until he proves that he is guilty. Through a play, he is able to ascertain that Claudius killed his father but he is unable to revenge. The turning point of his actions comes when he returns from exile and eventually executes his mission.

In summary, Hamlets’ ability to change from an emotional, hateful, rational, vengeful and insane to cool, friendly, confident, and moral person enables him to execute his mission of killing King Claudius. Shakespeare’s description of Hamlet’s character categorizes him as a round character. In addition, Shakespeare mission to delay Hamlet’s plan to avenge his father’s death highlights the complex nature of his (Hamlet’s) emotions and psychology.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, Williams. Hamlet, 2003. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "What Makes Hamlet such a Complex Character?" May 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-makes-hamlet-such-a-complex-character/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'What Makes Hamlet such a Complex Character'. 14 May.

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