Inconsistency in The Character of Hamlet

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Inconsistency in The Character of Hamlet The perfection of Hamlet’s character has been called in question - perhaps by those who do not understand it. The character of Hamlet stands by itself. It is not a character marked by strength of will or even of passion, but by refinement of thought and sentiment. Hamlet is as little of the hero as a man can be. He is a young and princely novice, full of high enthusiasm and quick sensibility - the sport of circumstances, questioning with fortune and refining on his own feelings, and forced from his natural disposition by the strangeness of his situation. Hamlet seems incapable of deliberate action, and is only hurried into extremities on the spur of the occasion, when he has no time to reflect, as in the scene where he kills Polonius, and again, where he alters the letters which Rosencraus and Guildenstern are taking with them to England, purporting his death. At other times, when he is most bound to act, he remains puzzled, undecided, and skeptical, until the occasion is lost, and he finds some pretence to relapse into indolence and thoughtfulness again. For this reason he refuses to kill the King when he is at his prayers, and by a refinement in malice, which is in truth only an excuse for his own want of resolution, defers his revenge to a more fatal opportunity, when he will be engaged in some act "that has no relish of salvation in it." "Now might I do it pat now he is praying; And now I'll do 't; - and so he goes to heaven; And so am I reveng'd? - that would be scanned: A villain kills my father; and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven. O, this is hire and salary, not revenge ... Up sword; and know thou a more horrid hent, Whe... ... middle of paper ... ... explaining the cause of his alienation, which he hardly trust himself to think of. It would have taken him years to have come to a direct explanation on the point. In the harassed state of his mind, he could not have done much other than what he did. His conduct does not contradict what he says when he sees her funeral, "I loved Ophelia: forty thousand brothers Could not with all their quantity of love Make up my sum" - [Act v., sc. 1.] In conclusion, Shakespeare has been accused of inconsistency with Hamlet only because he has kept up the distinction which there is in nature, between the understandings and the moral habits of men, between the absurdity of their ideas and the absurdity of their motives. Hamlet is not a fool, but he makes himself so. His folly, whether in his actions or speeches, comes under the category of impropriety of intention.

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