Essay on Hamlet’s Pride in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Essay on Hamlet’s Pride in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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In William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet, the hero, Hamlet, appears to be guilty of hubris, an overstepping of the bounds of both his and humanity’s destinies, which ultimately leads to his downfall. Reading the play with a consideration as to how Hamlet’s hubris manifests itself sheds light on why he performs certain actions, and simultaneously enlightens the reader to the dangers of attempting to overstep the confines of humanity. In this essay, I will prove that Hamlet has extreme pride, and is therefore guilty of hubris; in accordance with Harold Skulsky’s assertion in his article, ““I Know My Course”: Hamlet’s Confidence,” Hamlet is hubristic because while he believes that his own soul is impenetrable based on his external facade, he feels that he possesses the supernatural ability of knowing the internal truths of others based on their external appearances. I will illustrate how Hamlet’s pride grows throughout the play as he progressively draws more drastic conclusions about others’ inner natures based on their external actions, and how his pride ultimately leads him to make crucial mistakes that contribute to, but do not cause, his downfall.
From the beginning of the play, Hamlet is confident in the inability of others to know what is going on in his mind based on his actions. Upon being questioned by his mother about why he still seems bothered by his father’s death, he tells her that he does not simply seem to be grieving, he is, and that his displays of grief cannot “denote [him] truly,” because “they are actions that a man might play,” while his sorrow is real (1.2.76-86). This claim reveals Hamlet’s belief that his outward nature cannot reveal his inner one, and, as Skulsky notices, “gives no grou...


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...never truly know another’s inner nature. If Hamlet’s scenario is not convincing enough, an examination of the situations of Polonius— whose attempts to see into Hamlet’s interior based on Hamlet’s actions get him killed— and Claudius— who also falls prey to the belief that his soul is impenetrable and dies as a result of it— may be helpful. As Hamlet demonstrates, there exist certain moral principles beyond human control, and sometimes, as in Hamlet’s case, they are better left unchallenged.



Works Cited

n Hamlet’s case, they are better left unchallenged.
Bibliography
Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet.” Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Alison Booth and Kelly J.
Mays. Portable 10th ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2011. 1024-1129. Print.

Skulsky, Harold. “‘I Know My Course’: Hamlet’s Confidence.” PMLA 89.3 (May 1974): 477-86.

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