Hamlet is one of the most well-known Shakespeare's tragedies that focus on a range of problems, which result from affection, loss, and disloyalty. It asks a lot of questions but does not give readers a definite and accurate answer to them. It is so as Hamlet lacks explanations to the most complicated queries in the human life. The paper at hand explains the motives behind Hamlet keeps hanging in midair after having received the Ghost's command. The military element of the play and its contribution to the overall theme are also analyzed. The research describes the parallels in destinies of Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras and explains how they contribute to the central theme by considering both their differences and similarities. The issue of insanity is studied in the paper, as well. It also analyzes what role Ophelia and Gertrude play in the tragedy. Shakespeare's attitude towards females and Horatio's importance in the performance are considered in some details. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s contribution to the plot advancement is examined. Finally, the paper explores the aspects of Hamlet in the light of dramatic arts.
One of the most complicated problems in this tragedy by Shakespeare is the question as to why Hamlet does not directly revenge his father’s death. Hamlet's protraction is vital to the unraveling of the plot in the play. More significant, while there is sufficient action in Hamlet, the death of the main character plays a major role in the development of Hamlet's personality and certain logical themes in the tragedy, including the complex issues of death and chance. Without Hamlet’s delay of action, there would be a little necessity to develop his character as a "tormentor and minister." Moreover, there would be no theatrical need for deliberating on the profound concerns that Shakespeare raises in his work. Also, if the Danish leader acted promptly upon the Ghost's command to commit a homicide and slew Claudius immediately, then there would be no story to tell readers after the succeeding scene.
Hamlet incorporates numerous military viewpoints that relate to the dominant theatrical question about Hamlet's predicament. Fortinbras is on a vengeful mission as his father was killed by Danish king in a fight. The man reacts to his destiny by gathering a military to combat against Hamlet. At the end of the play, he becomes the rightful heir and takes the Danish crown in order to rein the kingdom. Moreover, military elements are used to supplement the theme of the vindictive act. The main character can now find the reason for pursuing vengeance since it is a matter of integrity. Meeting Fortinbras and his army, Hamlet hears that Norwegians come with an armed mission. Prince Fortinbras wishes to seize the territory. Hamlet identifies him as a brave man; on the other hand, he considers himself a bigoted and wretched fellow. By comparing himself with Fortinbras’ greatness, gallantry, and integrity, Hamlet embroiders the story as he regards Fortinbras as somebody superior to him. The prince encourages himself that he needs to revenge his father’s death because it is a matter of his honor. The play concludes when Fortinbras offers Hamlet a soldierly burial and salute; in such a manner, the theme of vengeance, integrity, and complete catastrophe is elevated.
In understanding Hamlet's dominant struggle and its overall sense, different conditions that Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras face help in developing a general connotation. Unmistakably, Shakespeare planned the two characters of Hamlet and Laertes to become opponents, as they do when they meet each other at Ophelia's grave. Nonetheless, the author sought to circumvent by displaying how the two have relished a close bond or any association before Laertes leaves for France. Such a prior connection would merely confound some issues, which are undesirable by the author. It would be easier to handle the sentiments of both Hamlet and Laertes if they lacked any association in the past. This standpoint clarifies why Shakespeare takes Laertes to France and keeps him there in the dark until he is required to accomplish his crucial part in the performance near its close. Shakespeare's aim is to inform that Laertes is currently in France and make viewers aware of his existence and possible significance in the plan. Laertes is a much more characteristic symbol of the revenge tragedy than Hamlet is. Laertes contributes to Hamlet's demise and in a way help the prince in his revenge mission. Fortinbras represents another contributor. He is in mourning for his father’s death and the resulting loss of territory to the Danish kind. He plans to attack Denmark; however, his plan is ceased after some political talks with Claudius. Fortinbras identifies considerably with Hamlet in instituting independence, hence, in pursuing vengeance and upholding honor.
Hamlet's antic personality is a disguise, behind which he hides while planning his revenge. Nevertheless, his real state of cognizance appears dreadfully unsteady at numerous points of his plan, and it is difficult to distinguish for sure whether or not he perpetually slides over the edge of the true insanity. In a production, the actor and stage manager would partake to make a choice about the degree of Hamlet's insanity. Hamlet does show the typical indicators of alternative some psychological conditions like depression, a distrustful and skeptical attitude, an inclination to brutal self-deprecation, dejected temperament, and insistent thoughts of suicide.
However, Ophelia's insanity in scene IV, section 5 is undeniable. Having been subjected to more problems than she could manage when her father is slain by a man she adores, she loses the touch with reality. Her irate ravings suggest profound anxieties that have changed her cognizance: the demise of a treasured one and the sheer frustrating of her desire to return her affection and feelings to Hamlet. While Hamlet merely discusses the idea of suicide, Ophelia lets her own to slide away while in the hold of the insanity, to which his actions have provided her. Shakespeare wants a reader to understand that the topic of madness can be used as a tool for entertainment since in such a case, characters can comment and do unusual things that are not generally allowed in the human society.
Complicated temperament and personal qualities as used in the play involves factors that enable one preserve the own self-worth as a man or woman despite any circumstances. On the other hand, weak character traits represent those factors that lead one to compromise the self-worth. Among the strong traits is the fact that Ophelia remains compliant. Her wish to submit forces her to select between her father and Hamlet. Ophelia is also loyal; this trait allows Hamlet only to guess where the limits of her devotion lie. The woman is compassionate. In the text, Ophelia appears much kinder towards Hamlet, "What she has perceived and what she grasps have together led to her miserable state. The first because of the manner Hamlet treated her, the second because of her familiarity of her association, however submissive, possibly even reluctant, in the action of espionage". Nevertheless, compliance is one of the weak character traits she possesses, as well. Because of her obedience, Ophelia is only manipulated and used by the males in the play. Her submission seems more profound than her attempts to delight her father. Moreover, her thoughts and actions demonstrate what a weak character she is.
Gertrude is an extremely womanly character, and her sexuality makes Hamlet so violent towards her. The moral sin she committed was the wedding with Hamlet's uncle after such a short time after his father's death. The event makes Hamlet blame her of infidelity. Besides, the idea that Gertrude has a loathing to the reality is not in argument. She deceives herself about the consequences of her actions, and she deceives those around her even though she lies to safeguard herself (Shakespeare 2014). Though being remorseful, Gertrude is considerate and subtle in her efforts to intercede. She is not merely an unknowing target of her condition, as some detractors could assume. While it seems perfect that the woman was not tangled in the slaying of the previous king, the matter still appears to cause some debate.
Shakespeare created an interesting problem for himself with the personality of Gertrude. As a playwright, he wanted to sustain the struggle between his characters in order to keep the heat and stress up to the point where the situation would be ready to burst at any moment. Equally, he shaped a personality that is situated in the center of the struggle and appears to play a determinant role in solving it at any opportunity. That character is Gertrude. She is equally a mother and pacifier in a merged household that has practically come into an uneven being. Gertrude's death offers stage managers the last means to convey her emotional performance to the full while referring to Hamlet as an excellent crime story.
Women Perspective in the Play
Gender disparity is a general matter in Hamlet, as the two leading female characters are frail and submissive; they are used as symbols of manipulation by males in their lives. "Frailty, Thy name is a woman," says William Shakespeare (2014); with these words, he refers to the inherent weakness (according to him) of the female nature. Ophelia and Gertrude are susceptible to the manipulation because of lacking any say in their society; thus, they were under the strict male control. In his dialog with Ophelia, Hamlet also asserts that it is a perfect opportunity for the womenfolk to stay in the convent. Hamlet declares, "If thou dost wed, I'll offer thee this pandemic for thy grant: be thou as pure as snow, as clean as sleet, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery" (Shakespeare 2014). Even if Ophelia decided to stay clean and virtuous, she would not avoid her destiny as a female. She was limited by the ethical codes of the time and was despised because of the common prejudice, which considered women as cynical creatures. Gertrude has degraded so much that marries Hamlet's uncle.
Though Ophelia desires to trust in Hamlet was real to her and "Hath given expression to his appeal… / with almost all the pious pledges of heaven" (Shakespeare 2014), her father’s word was a decree, and what he held she had to abide. It is so as "if she rejects Polonius, she risks societal banishment and a severe abuse of the man who impulsively controls her future". In fact, Ophelia was the possession of her father. Mary Floyd-Wilson clarifies that Polonius' presentation of commercial expressions to Hamlet changes Ophelia into a product. As such, her moods and desires are stifled by being helpless to express herself comfortably in the severely male society that considers her a sensual good for the trade. Given the above, I, however, disagree that this is the circumstance. Even after many years, Shakespeare's longing to encourage male dominance in a shifting domain remains the flaw in Hamlet, which produces an anti-feminist script. Shakespeare flops at demonstrating the female viewpoint in his tragedy; thus, he downgrades Gertrude and Ophelia into inconsequential theatrical balances to the male characters. This choice eventually weakens the play in the eyes of feminist readers, who are incorrect.
Horatio has to functions that are vital to the drama, which allow one to study those merits that make the character notable. Horatio is the herald of truth. Through the man, the actions of Hamlet and other characters gain reliability. He is the freestanding onlooker of the insanity. Hamlet could soliloquize continuously, but it is his discussions with Horatio that preserved the drama in the dimension of realism. Horatio trusts Hamlet; thus, readers have consent for contemplation. He also sees the Ghost, and so we can accept that Hamlet is not mad. If Horatio were absent, Hamlet's sanity would be in suspicion.
Horatio's succeeding aim is to be Hamlet's only trusted friend. Apart from the prince’s monologs, his conversations with Horatio are the sole hints that readers have about what Hamlet is feeling and experiencing. One of the most crucial acts is in the leading scene when readers meet a calm, firm, and sensible Horatio. Being not terrified to challenge the Ghost, Horatio demands it to talk if it can discern what prospect awaits Denmark or if it has appeared with the aim to make any revelation:
If thou art privy to thy country's fate
Or if thee hast uphoarded in thy time
Forced treasure in the belly of the earth
Talk of it, stay and speak!
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
The two characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern help Shakespeare create dramatic and comic situations while still advancing the plot. As illustrated, the two men and Hamlet are university friends that liked to talk about the opposite sex. They are used in the play in order to define how Hamlet has transformed over time. While both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have stayed the same inexperienced and party-loving students, Hamlet has considerably changed as a result of all he has experienced in this short period. This means helps Shakespeare develop the plot by enhancing Hamlet's behavior.
The author uses these characters theatrically and entertainingly in the play in order to utilize them as the opposition to the remarkably intellectual prince. They still are the same naive fresh college lads while Hamlet changes into a treacherous, determined, mature, and regal person. They are clean personalities who have been tasked with investigating the views, moods, and motivations of their old friend, who is currently far ahead of them in terms of the personal growth. They have to do it less making him suspicious of their presence. Hamlet can perceive the reality through them. However, it is the case of the past when they were all carefree fellows that had to read a few volumes and maybe preparing a few assignments.
The phrase "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action" was Shakespeare's (2014) preferred form of speech. In some ways, Hamlet is a kind of a prolonged joke on the verb "to perform" and would have been wholly comprehensible to Elizabethan listeners. “Acting" diffuses the environment of the piece and assists in generating a creepy atmosphere of Elsinore Fortress. Several characters in Hamlet offer a deceitful opposition to others by obscuring their real moods and intentions while performing the role that the society has allocated them. Shakespeare utilizes a tool of a play within a play. Hamlet's famed monolog emphasizes on the performance as a skill that is based on the idea that the finest play-acting is the one, which appears to be the most realistic. Also, in staging, some scenes, for example, the one with the ghost, emphasize various illumination, costuming, and movement as singled out in the play (CliffNotes 9).
In conclusion, Hamlet is surely a tragedy play that incorporates many themes in its progression. The main character’s delay in revenging his father's death has a definite purpose. The military elements of the play assist in developing the idea of honor and tragedy, in general, as well. Parallel circumstances of Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras facilitate the development of the central theme of the play. Insanity is clearly defined with Hamlet's feigned madness that opposes the real one of Ophelia. Personality traits that are both positive and negative regarding Ophelia are instrumental in the development of the play's central theme. Gertrude's predicament and following state help in the advancement of the immorality and espionage ideas of the tragedy. Shakespeare's view of women proves that he was a victim of the incorrect analysis. Horatio, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern are essential as they contribute to the understanding of the prince’s true being. Hamlet is a mystery play that applies dramatic arts with the view to developing numerous themes of the play precisely.