Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedies. At first glance, it holds all of the common occurrences in a revenge tragedy which include plotting, ghosts, and madness, but its complexity as a story far transcends its functionality as a revenge tragedy. Revenge tragedies are often closely tied to the real or feigned madness in the play. Hamlet is such a complex revenge tragedy because there truly is a question about the sanity of the main character Prince Hamlet. Interestingly enough, this deepens the psychology of his character and affects the way that the revenge tragedy takes place. An evaluation of Hamlet’s actions and words over the course of the play can be determined to see that his ‘outsider’ outlook on society, coupled with his innate tendency to over-think his actions, leads to an unfocused mission of vengeance that brings about not only his own death, but also the unnecessary deaths of nearly all of the other main characters in the revenge tragedy.
When considering Hamlet’s generally isolationist and lonesome nature, it is possible to conclude that Hamlet suffers from a mental disorder. Throughout the course of the play, Hamlet tends not to share his inner feelings with others and does not have many close friends. One notable exception is Horatio, Hamlet’s closest and most loyal friend. Horatio is the only character to whom Hamlet expresses his true feelings, and Hamlet welcomes Horatio’s calm level-headedness, providing an insight into the kind of person Hamlet appreciates: “Give me that man / That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him / In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, / As I do thee” (3.2, 64–67). If Hamlet’s idea of a friend is any indication as to why he strays away from shar...
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... be overstepping the boundaries of morality. Not only does Hamlet want to kill Claudius, but he also wants to damn his soul. This contrasts greatly with Claudius’ act of murder, which is carried out with no preference for the victim’s afterlife. As a result of Hamlet’s tendency to over-think situations, his mission of vengeance is once again delayed.
Like all Shakespearean tragedies, Hamlet’s ending is no different in end-result. Hamlet’s separation from society and his self-imposed confusion caused by over-thinking results in the unnecessary deaths of most of the major characters. In turn, Hamlet’s pre-occupation with factors inessential to his mission of revenge slows down his action. It is this internal struggle that illustrates the intensity and complexity of Shakespeare’s revenge tragedy, something that is often looked at from a psychological perspective.
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