Essay on Why Shakespeare's Hamlet is a Melancholic Puppet

Essay on Why Shakespeare's Hamlet is a Melancholic Puppet

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“The world is sad, because a puppet was once melancholy” once said Oscar Wilde, the modern playwright in reference to Hamlet. It is understandable why. In Shakespeare’s tragedy, the protagonist, Hamlet is depressed after the death of his father and remarriage of his mother to his uncle, Claudius (the antagonist.) His depression is defined by Louis Menhand in The New Yorker as “the unhappiness of eternal disappointment in life as it is” or the German word, weltschmerz. To a great extent, this type of sadness is what shaped Hamlet’s decisions more than his reasoning though process. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet’s weltschmerz degrades his ability through feminine allusions and body imagery to the extent that he needed the stability of triangulation to live.
Hamlet is formed into a weltschmerz puppet through the allusions to femininity throughout the play. From the exodus of the play, Hamlet blames his mother as the source of his melancholy and anger. The anger is juxtaposed with the command from Hamlet’s father later in the same act telling him not to hurt his mother. (I. v. 86) This prohibits Hamlet to act based on his own emotions and instead is loyal to his father’s commandment, yet both pull him, triangulating the relationship between Hamlet, Gertrude, and Hamlet’s father. Hamlet’s melancholic depression is only worsened by comparing himself to a woman. In act two, he states his task to “Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words/ and fall a-cursing like a very drab,” (II. ii. 590-591) which lowers Hamlet on the social hierarchy by comparing him to prostitutes who make their living parasitically, depending off of the sexual needs of others. Furthermore, in the time in which Hamlet and the playwright, Willia...


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...tschmerz, which was the source of his melancholy, was what controlled him throughout the play. By diminishing his own personal ability to resolve the conflict and kill Claudius, Hamlet was moved like a puppet by his unstable emotions and (temporarily) stable surrounding people. Hamlet’s humane weakness in emotion and hope connected his character to the reader by Shakespeare’s character being instead of a man who either could or could not, a man that did not know if he could. The tragedy in Hamlet is not the death at the end of the play, but instead the lack of stability of everything at the end of play, a tribute from every other character giving in to weltschmerz, the abrupt ending sharing with the reader the same feeling of disappointment. The world becomes sad. Hamlet, perhaps asks only one thing: to find a balanced stability, one that Hamlet could not find.

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