Essay, Research Paper: Hamlet Emotions

Shakespeare: Hamlet

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The character of Prince Hamlet, in Shakespeare's Hamlet, displays many strong
yet justified emotions. For instance, the "To be or Not To Be"
soliloquy, perhaps one of the most well known quotes in the English language,
Hamlet actually debates suicide. His despair, sorrow, anger, and inner peace are
all justifiable emotions for this troubled character. Hamlet's feeling of
despair towards his life and to the world develops as the play moves on. In
Hamlet's first soliloquy he reveals that his despair has driven him to thoughts
of suicide; "How weary (horrible) ... His law 'gainst self slaughter."
Likewise, when Hamlet talks to his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Act
2, scene 2, Hamlet wishes they tell the King and Queen that he has "lost
all mirth," in this world so "foul and pestilent." In his
"To be or not to be" soliloquy, he expresses his despair through
thoughts of suicide, suggesting that suicide is an easy way to end life's
conflicts. But luckily he concludes that the fear of an unknown afterlife is
what keeps us living. All of Hamlet's thoughts of despair can be understood when
one looks at the horrible conflicts Hamlet goes through. Sorrow, perhaps the
most evident emotion, is very well developed throughout the play. Initially, the
only cause of Hamlet's sorrow is his father's death. However, after reading Act
1, scene 2, we see in Hamlet's asides that another source of his melancholy is
his mother's hasty marriage to Claudius, the new king of Denmark. Further, when
Queen Gertrude asks her son why his father's death "seems" so
important, he replies, "Seems, madam? Nay it is. I know not 'seems'."
In addition, Shakespeare reveals another source of sadness; now Hamlet is alone,
with the most loved character in his life, Ophelia, rejecting him. This cause is
well brought out in Hamlet's soliloquy in which he states; "Now I am alone.
O, what a rouge and peasant slave am I!" Finally, when Hamlet discovers
that Ophelia had died, new reasons for Hamlet's extreme feelings of sorrow are
added. In fact, his sorrow is so great that "Forty thousand brothers/Could
not (with all their quantity and love) Make up my sum." Thus, Hamlet's well
developed sadness, is reasonable throughout the play. Unfortunately, Hamlet's
thoughts of mourning are replaced by those of anger. Most readers of Hamlet
agree, to some extent or another, that Hamlet is well justified in expressing
anger. Perhaps the first incident of Hamlet's true expression of anger is during
his scene with the ghost in Act I. He states, "I with wings as swift as
thought...sweep to my revenge." Furthermore, in spite of his love for
Ophelia, when he discovers she is not being truthful with him in Act III scene
1, he becomes outraged, dismissing his love for her. "I loved you
once," and then "loved you not." Thus, "to a nunnery
go." He continues to abuse the ideas of marriage and womanhood to Ophelia
in his feigned madness until he finally leaves. These attacks on marriage and
womanhood should not have been directed to Ophelia, but rather perhaps to Queen
Gertrude for her play acted out, with the purpose of determining Claudius'
guilt. When Hamlet's doubt is dismissed, he reveals more thoughts of anger and
outrage towards Claudius. "O heart, lose not thy nature, let me be
cruel." One of the most revealing scenes about Hamlet's anger can be found
where Claudius is praying to absolve his sins. Hamlet is given the chance to
avenge "this foul and most unnatural murder" when he sees Claudius
praying. Hamlet, being a Christian prince, cannot bring himself to kill Claudius
while he is praying, as this would secure his place in heaven. Hamlet wants to
before Claudius gets up, declaring he cannot pray; "My words fly up, my
thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go"
(Claudius, Act III, Scene 3). Had Hamlet known Claudius was unable to pray, then
he could have had his revenge right then and there, instead of waiting until the
end and taking everyone else with him. Most of the other characters would
probably have acted much quicker than Hamlet if they were in his position.
Imagine Polonius in the situation Hamlet found himself in. He would not
procrastinate as much. It would have most likely been off with the head of the
murderer. Any other character in the play would not have stayed as quiet as
Hamlet does (confiding only in his best friend, and even keeping the truth from
his mother until the end of Act III). Although not every one of them might have
come to killing Claudius. Hamlet does not seem to do anything. Again, he thinks
too much. Hamlet is self-conscious, while the majority of characters that
surround him are not. This explains why he feels inhibited to act. Hamlet
resembles a real person more than any discussion, and why the play remains so
popular. Hamlet is one of the most interesting characters in English fiction
because we can identify with him, and understand, although not always agree with
his actions. Hamlet is also set apart by his elusiveness. Many of the characters
in the play can be categorized within minutes of their introduction. I'm not
calling them caricatures, but there is definitely a caricature-like side to some
of them. The pompous Polonius and the deceitful and thick-headed Guildenstern
and Rozencrantz come to mind. However, this does not hold true for some other
characters, such as Laertes and Ophelia. The character of Hamlet refuses
categorization. Interesting with regard to this is his love of theater. He is
particularly interested in the idea that things may seem different from what
they really are, just like the people that surround him. His mother is no longer
his father's wife, but his uncle's; his girlfriend is no longer there for him,
and Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are no longer his friends. Also, he is aware
that he will have to disguise himself and his real motives and goals in order to
attain them-this is why he fakes his madness. It is not until he picks up
Yorick's skull in the beginning of Act V that he finds out what is real and what
is not. In the end, when the truth is revealed and everyone's "masks"
are removed, death is all that is to be found.
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