Essay on Review Of ' Hamlet ' And ' The Prince Of Norway '

Essay on Review Of ' Hamlet ' And ' The Prince Of Norway '

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Minor characters are often left out of the light and aren’t given the credit they are due. Even a skull such as Yorick can be important to the plot and development of characters in a story. In Hamlet, a minor character is one with few or no lines as well as an outsider to the main relationships of the story. Shakespeare uses these minor characters to develop the background of major characters as well as use them to drive plot forward and help major characters grow. One example: the Players, a comical theater troupe, function as one of these minor characters to develop Hamlet as well as his weapon. Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, is used as a foil to Hamlet in many ways, highlighting his flaws and strengths indirectly. Fortinbras could be considered a major character as he appears throughout the play, but he has very few lines and until the end, only influences the plot indirectly. The skull of Yorick, a jester from Hamlet’s childhood, is perhaps the most pivotal minor character in Hamlet. Through extended metaphor and Hamlet’s final soliloquy, Yorick is used to a) show Hamlet’s innocence and youth, and b) end his indecisiveness and progress Hamlet to maturity. To a great extent, these three minor characters help to characterize the protagonist, Hamlet, and are devices Shakespeare uses to mature and grow the protagonist throughout the play.

The Players that appear in Scene 2 define Hamlet’s love for the arts and demonstrate his cleverness as they become his “weapon.” This “weapon” function is a sort of parallelism of Hamlet to Claudius as they both use others to achieve their secret agendas. While Claudius tries to use Laertes to kill Hamlet, Hamlet uses the players to “catch the conscience of the king” (II.ii.567). ...


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...s way, minor characters are more important to any play than their role and dialogue would suggest. The Players show how youthful Hamlet is and his strengths in using reason but also show how he is close to his enemy Claudius in ideas and actions. Fortinbras continues to show, through his own strengths and potency, Hamlet’s weaknesses and impotency. He starts out as a starkly contrasting foil but functions to show Hamlet’s maturity at the end of the play as the two become closer and respect each other. The skull of Yorick, even as a character with no dialogue or motion, helps to transform Hamlet from a naïve youth to a mature adult, capable of making decisions even in the midst of horrors. All of the minor characters in Hamlet, just like these three, help to characterize and develop major characters and without them, the tragedy would have no depth and no growth.

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