Melancholy Hamlet

1963 Words8 Pages
Melancholy Hamlet In Shakespeare’s tragic drama, Hamlet, the multi-faceted character of the hero is so complex that this essay will enlighten the reader on only one aspect of his personality – his melancholy dimension. Our understanding of the true extent of the protagonist’s melancholic mental state needs to be informed. A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy presents convincing evidence regarding the true depth of the hero’s melancholy sentiment: Hamlet and Horatio are supposed to be fellow-students at Wittenberg, and to have left it for Elsinore less than two months ago. Yet Hamlet hardly recognizes Horatio at first, and speaks as if he himself lived at Elsinore (I refer to his bitter jest, ‘We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart’). Who would dream that Hamlet had himself just come from Wittenberg, if it were not for the previous words about his going back there? How can this be explained on the usual view? Only, I presume, by supposing that Hamlet is so sunk in melancholy that he really does almost ‘forget himself’ and forgets everything else, so that he actually is in doubt who Horatio is. (370) The depressing aspect of the initial imagery of the drama tend to underline and reinforce the play’s melancholy. Marchette Chute in “The Story Told in Hamlet” describes such imagery of the opening scene: The story opens in the cold and dark of a winter night in Denmark, while the guard is being changed on the battlements of the royal castle of Elsinore. For two nights in succession, just as the bell strikes the hour of one, a ghost has appeared on the battlements, a figure dressed in complete armor and with a face like that of the dead king of Denmark, Hamlet’s father (35... ... middle of paper ... ...ven Press, 1999. Rpt. from Introduction to Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Philip Edwards. N. P.: Cambridge University P., 1985. Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974. Mack, Maynard. “The World of Hamlet.” Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. Rev. ed. Ed. Leonard F. Dean. New York: Oxford University P., 1967. Rosenberg, Marvin. “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Masks of Hamlet. Newark, NJ: Univ. of Delaware P., 1992. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. No line nos.
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