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Hamlet

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Hamlet arrives home from his studies to discover that his uncle, Claudius, has murdered Hamlet’s father, the king of Denmark. Hamlet vows to avenge his father’s death by killing Claudius. Although Hamlet is obsessed with killing Claudius, his conscience seems to be plagued with the enormity of committing murder. Claudius’s conniving assassination of the king and Hamlet’s desire for justice make the two characters seem quite dissimilar. Hamlet the beloved prince is supposed to slay Claudius the scheming usurper. Yet, in some sense, Hamlet seeks the same path as Claudius. He wants to murder Claudius, just as Claudius murdered his father. To do this, however, would bring Hamlet down to Claudius’s level. The lust, manipulation, selfishness and even doubt that are so plainly seen in Claudius also exist within Hamlet and become apparent as he contemplates his revenge.
One aspect of the lust shown by both Claudius and Hamlet is revealed in their pitiable relations with women. Hamlet’s father’s ghost describes Claudius as “ . . . that incestuous, that adulterate beast, . . . won to his shameful lust the will of my . . . queen” (I.v.42-46). The Ghost is telling Hamlet that Claudius committed incest and adultery with Gertrude by seducing her. Often in the play Hamlet describes his disgust of the situation, “With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (I.ii.158). Yet Hamlet himself displays lust and obsession as well in numerous letters to Ophelia, “To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most beautified Ophelia . . . But never doubt I love” (II.ii.111-115). Ophelia refuses to respond to Hamlet’s letters, but he sends more nevertheless. However, Hamlet may have only wished to sleep with her because he says, “You should not have believed me ...

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...escent into anger, hatred, obsession, self-loathing, and eventually murder and death. Hamlet represents a common psychological phenomenon. When individuals come to dislike traits about themselves they search for those qualities in the people around them. The flaws in others are much more visible than one’s own. Hamlet is put in a near impossible situation. Ultimately he does get his revenge, but he pays a high price. Not only does he lose his life, but he also becomes the person he vowed to take revenge on. Hamlet and Claudius meet the same poisonous fate. Each dies as much from the poison within, as from the attacks they suffer. Hamlet realizes his traits but he does not see that the imperfections within himself are the same as those within his uncle. Hamlet is dedicated to expunging all that Claudius stands for, yet he fails to see those elements in himself.
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