The murder of his father and his mother’s remarriage undermines Hamlet’s noble personality and turns his strengths into weaknesses. Discuss
Whilst external influences do affect Hamlet‟s personality, Hamlet still remains to be the noble protagonist of the play and remains the only character in the play to resist the impulse to enact bloody revenge and is portrayed by the play to remain true to his values. Hamlet‟s noble qualities, such as his intellectualism, disapproval of revenge and his repugnance to corruption still remain within him throughout the play, however his father‟s “foul and most unnatural murder “and his
mother‟s “o‟er hasty marriage” do affect his personality and Hamlet, to some extent, has some of his strengths turned into weaknesses. His mother‟s marriage does cause Hamlet to become hostile
towards his mother and at one point, Hamlet loses his temper with his mother, and the death of his father triggers Hamlet to assume an „antic disposition‟, which does little to resolve his problems and cause Hamlet to become disrespectful to others, including the one he loves, Ophelia. However, Hamlet can be partly excused for his changed personality, as he struggles to survive amongst the corruption that infects the court of Denmark, and the play ultimately presents Hamlet to remain as the wise prince who resists the urges to enact bloody revenge and does not succumb to the corruption which affects the other characters in Hamlet.
Gertrude‟s “dexterity to incestuous sheets” is shown in the play to have profound effects on
Hamlet. Disgusted and appalled by his mother‟s “o‟erhasty marriage” and his belief that “a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer” than his mother are signs of the enormous impact his mother has on his son. His cynical and cold remarks such as “the funeral
baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables” and “O most pernicious woman” show the extent of Hamlet‟s frustration with his mother, and Hamlet‟s hostility towards her is understandable. After grasping the opportunity to “speak daggers to her, but use none,” Hamlet
explosively ejects the contents of his rage onto his mother, and his uncontrollable rage shows to some extent Hamlet‟s instability in his mind. Foul language such as “could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, and batten on this moor” and accusations that his mother “made marriage-vows as false as dicer‟s oaths” and to be living “in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, stewed in corruption, honeying and making love over the nasty sty,” are representative of
Hamlet‟s intense frustration with his mother. The usual passive Hamlet exhibits to some extent a
changed personality, and his vehement anger at his mother is a symptom of this, and moreover, Hamlet becomes so intoxicated in his preoccupation with his mother that he forgets his father‟s
commandment to “nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught,” and this prompts the ghost to return and remind Hamlet to “whet they almost blunted purpose.” Despite the difficulties that
arise from his frustration with his mother, we do not lose sight of Hamlet‟s core values. His anger
to his mother, to some regard, comes from his deep abhorrence of the corruption in Denmark and despite in an explosive rage, he urges his mother to not “spread the compost on the weeds to
make them ranker” and to “throw away the worser part of it, and live the purer with the other half,” are all signs of Hamlet‟s desire to purge the corruption out of his mother, and we can admire Hamlet for sticking to his values.
The grief of his father‟s death attributes to Hamlet‟s demise into a dark state of melancholia, and to some extent alters Hamlet‟s personality, causing him to act irrationally and disrespectful. Telling Horatio that he will assume an „antic disposition‟, Hamlet acts erratically around
characters to Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and his blatant display of his contempt for them amidst his madness “in craft” represents a “transformation” in Hamlet, and a symptom of
Hamlet‟s weakness. His madness serves little purpose, and instead „confuses‟ characters and his disregard for others portray Hamlet to appear deranged and cold. His rebuking of Ophelia is over the top and highlights Hamlet‟s irrational behaviour which comes from the melancholy state which he is in. Although his words have a profound impact on Ophelia and do some degree
plunges her into insanity, his words, despite being sharp, convey a deeper meaning and only arise due to Hamlet‟s moral integrity. Hamlet is obviously frustrated at the corruption that infects the
people around him, and there is no doubt he suspect the corruption has also infected his “sweet” Ophelia, shown when he questions “are you fair?” and “are you honest?” Moreover, his advice to “get thee to a nunnery” and “why wouldst thou be a breeder of sins” are illustrative of his concern
for Ophelia and have the underlying meaning of showing his desire for Ophelia to escape the corruption of Denmark. Hamlet‟s madness “has method in„t” and although is seen to be sometimes vulgar and irrational, we still see the noble qualities which he holds.
Although Hamlet shows signs of weakness, the bulk of his strengths remain. In many instances, Hamlet is seen to try to spur his “dull revenge,” however it is evident that he is against the notion
of revenge. His passive nature and his “godlike reason” are qualities which we admire in Hamlet and it is his contemplative and scholarly nature prevent Hamlet in seeking bloody retribution and can be attributed to Hamlet‟s hesitancy to conduct premeditated murder. Contrasted highly with
characters such as Laertes and Fortinbras, Hamlet resists the urge to “sweep” to his revenge, and instead uses devices such as the Mousetrap to “catch the conscience of the king” to seek his justice. There is no doubting in Hamlet‟s love and loyalty for his father, however the play shows
Hamlet, despite vowing that “thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume in my brain,” Hamlet‟s moral integrity causes him to view revenge with much disapproval. Examples of this are shown when Hamlet reveals to Ophelia that he is “ambitious and
revengeful… with more offences at my beck.” Although Hamlet does admit to these faults, the truth is he is far from revengeful, and the underlying meaning of this quote is to convey that Hamlet views revengefulness as an „offence‟ and signifies Hamlet‟s noble quality to oppose revenge. The play further demonstrates Hamlet‟s disapproval of revenge when he reveals to Horatio that “give me a man that is not passion‟s slave and I will wear him on my heart‟s core,” which suggests Hamlet views passive action to be desirable, where passionate action, such as revenge to be negative. Hamlet‟s ridicule of Fortinbras‟ mission to “expose what is mortal… even for an egg-shell” again displays Hamlet‟s condemnation of the notion of revenge, and it is no
wonder Hamlet delays his revenge until his life is at peril. Hamlet‟s rational thinking and passive
nature contrasts highly with Laertes‟ blood-lusty nature and Fortinbras, who is described to be
“mettle hot and full.” Laertes stoops to treachery and secretly plans with the corrupt King to seek his vengeance, whereas Fortinbras needlessly sends “sends twenty thousand souls… for a trick of fame,” Both are portrayed in the play to be flawed characters and the play uses these characters to highlight Hamlet‟s greater qualities, and unlike Laertes and Fortinbras, does not succumb to the baser instinct to murder and seek retribution. Hamlet‟s strength to stick to his belief that revenge
is evil, despite being urged by his father, is a testament to Hamlet‟s noble characteristics and this quality is demonstrated in many instances within the play.
William Shakespeare shows the value and noble characteristics which embodies Hamlet, and although at times Hamlet‟s strengths are temporarily overwhelmed by the dark and brooding
thoughts in the prince‟s mind, Hamlet is depicted to be the heroic and noble protagonist, and unlike the other characters in the play, showed great wisdom and noble qualities and did not succumb to the corruption which infected Denmark.