The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare

1220 Words5 Pages
Somewhere between the years of 1599 and 1602, William Shakespeare wrote his longest, most influential and powerful tragedy, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play stages the revenge that a young prince seeks against his uncle for murdering his father, inheriting the throne, and subsequently marrying his mother. Prince Hamlet, a university student, is an extremely philosophical and thoughtful character. When his father the King of Denmark dies, Hamlet returns home only to be presented with evidence that suggests his uncle Claudius may have been responsible for his father’s murder. In the initial acts of the tragedy, Hamlet seeks to prove his uncle’s guilt and contemplates all of his actions and options, prior to seeking revenge. Less than two months after his father’s death, Prince Hamlet’s mother Gertrude gets remarried to his father’s brother Claudius, which upsets the prince immensely. During Hamlet’s first important soliloquy, he states O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason, Would have mourn’d longer,—married with mine uncle, My father’s brother; but no more like my father Than I to Hercules: within a month; Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married:— O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! (I.ii.148-158) which express his dissatisfaction with his mother’s choice to marry his father’s inferior brother. Hamlet references his mother’s shoes, which he describes as worn, and how they had not been like that prior to her marrying Claudius. Hamlet’s comment regarding Gertrude’s shoes suggests that he believes that his mother has become somewhat of a slave to Claudius. This first soliloquy is th... ... middle of paper ... ...ats to Denmark national security. Hamlet also does not think about the threats from within to the stability of Denmark. Overall, Hamlet’s actions prove him to be a depressed, resentful, and cynical character. Initially, he is an indecisive and hesitant character. However, after his return from England, he becomes more impetuous, impulsive, and quick to act. He is full of hatred for his uncle and is disgusted by his mother’s sexuality, and both of these emotions are ultimately what propel him to madness. Many critics would argue that the way Hamlet behaves is fair and understandable due to the many hardships he had faces in such a short period of time. According to Shakespeare critic Eleanor Prosser, “Hamlet is trapped between two worlds. The moral code from which he cannot escape is basically medieval, but his instincts are with the Renaissance…” (Gottschalk 156).
Open Document