William Shakespeare is seen to many as one of the great writers in history. More specifically, the characters in his plays are reviewed and criticized and have been so for nearly four centuries. The character that many have revered Shakespeare for is perhaps the greatest such character ever in literature, Hamlet from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The commentary and response to this legend of literature is of wide array and opinion, though most, such as Pennington, believe him to be a truly magnificent character: "Hamlet is perhaps the cleverest hero ever written, the subject of the first European tragedy, a form of genius. A type Shakespeare despaired of writing thereafter, having perceived that the heroes of tragedies must be sublime idiots" (185). However, despite his clear gifts and aura, Hamlet was a doomed character from the beginning: Hamlet is dominated by an emotion that is inexpressible. It is thus a feeling he cannot understand, he cannot objectify it, and it therefore remains open to poison life and to obstruct action" (Eliot 25). Thus, Hamlet, while possessing the traits of no other men of his time, a true Renaissance man, was doomed from the beginning of the play partly by forces he could not control, and also partly by his own character. It leads to a slow but definite ending to one of literature's great characters, one that he could not control. In the end, Hamlet was out of place in his environment, he was simply not meant to be.
From the play's start, the reader's view of Hamlet is certainly seen as a man with a noble and most soveigrn reason. He was an ideal Renaissance nobleman, with an unbounded delight and faith in everything good and beautiful: "O, what a noble mind is her...
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... ed. by David Bevington. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1968.
Pennington, Michael. Hamlet, A User's Guide. New York: Limelight Editions, 1999.
Brown, John. "Soliloquies and Hamlet's Thoughts." in Readings on Hamlet. ed. by Don Nardo. New York: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
Lamar, Virginia. "Hamlet, A Man Who Thinks Before He Acts." in Readings on Hamlet. ed. by Don Nardo. New York: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
Edwards, Philip. "The Ghost: Messenger from a Higher Court of Values?" in Readings on Hamlet. ed. by Don Nardo. New York: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
West, Rebecca. "A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption." in Readings on Hamlet. ed. by Don Nardo. New York: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
Cantor, Paul. "Hamlet's Christian Beliefs Stifle His Heroic Impulse." in Readings on Hamlet. ed. by Don Nardo. New York: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
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