Hamlet Duality

1000 Words4 Pages
What intrigues me most about Hamlet is the complexity of Hamlet’s character. In Hamlet, although the external world is in disarray, it is the disturbance of Hamlet’s personal world that drives the play’s dramatic action and tension. The exasperation Hamlet embodies is caused by many internal conflicts of delay, morality, sanity, and irrationality that arise from events that mislead his decision making. Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1599-1601) is play where Hamlet struggles to take action and confronts conflicting ideologies opposed upon him, which still resonates with a modern audience today. Hamlet’s paradoxical character suffers both internal and external issues provoked by the death of King Hamlet that portray his delay of action and inaction. Hamlet…show more content…
The duality of Hamlet is seen throughout the play, initially from the encounter with the ghost to the end of the play. Shakespeare employs dramatic irony in Act 1 Scene 5, where Hamlet is coerced by the ghost and decides that he will “put an antic disposition on” as the audience knows Hamlet’s madness is performed. However, as the play develops and changes, so too does Hamlet’s madness. Act 3 Scene 4 is the main turning point for Hamlet’s madness, where the scene begins with a confrontation between Gertrude and Hamlet. When Hamlet confronts Gertrude, his fiery, passionate imagery expresses his despair that if adults are unable to withstand corruption, then his youthful idealism cannot either, “to flaming youth let virtue be as wax and melt in her own fire.” This is also demonstrated…show more content…
Seeing Fortinbras’ army going unquestioningly to their deaths leads Hamlet to comment, “Rightly to be great is not to stir without great argument, but greatly to find quarrel in a straw when honour’s at the stake.” This comment sarcastically marks Hamlet’s loss of idealism, as Hamlet encounters Claudius on several occasions hence but never feels guilty about his inaction. Hamlet’s adage, “Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, might stop a hole to keep the wind away” raises radically humanist ideas, such as the impermanence and inadequacy of man, which contradict Elizabethan religious paradigms. Harold Bloom suggests that “by returning [to Elsinore], Hamlet has no options beyond killing or being killed” (Bloom, 2003), and that Hamlet no longer fears death, but anticipates it, demonstrated in “We defy augury … if it be not now, it will come – the readiness is all.”. Hamlet’s apology to Laertes for fighting over Ophelia’s grave portrays Hamlet as a victim of circumstance: “Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged; his madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy.” In the final scene, Hamlet is intent on destruction to heal Denmark’s evils, but as a result, facilitates three deaths. Hence, it is the tragic convention of the need to restore moral order that leads to the death of Hamlet, which
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