Hamlet Brief Analysis
A motif of death in “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare is an exemplification of a decadent period of the Middle Ages. Depression, grey daily routine, and passivity were relevant traits of that epoch. People felt the aimlessness of their being and existence and were looking for easy ways in their lives. They were easily tempted into flaws and sins while they saw no reason to behave morally. Consequently, William Shakespeare underlines, that the tragic end of life is the only way out for people, who feel apathy and disdain.
Death appears because of human flaws. The most vicious human flaws, such as greediness, passivity, thoughtlessness, suspiciousness lead to the fatal end of life. William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” is not only a literary masterpiece, but also a didactic work. In his play “Hamlet” the author reveals main human weaknesses and shows us the consequences. The main characters of the play “Hamlet” and their flaws as underpinnings of their deaths are considered in this research paper. The given paper is designed in order to analyze the flaws of the play’s characters and show how drawbacks can be fatal and how they can lead to death.
Victims of flaws
It is necessary to make an emphasis on characters’ responsibilities for their death. The main character of this play, Hamlet, is totally absorbed with the feeling of death. His incentives to act the play, which shows the real circumstances of his father’s death, demonstrate his risky nature (Boyce, 1990). Of course, Hamlet reached into truth and saw that his father was poisoned by Claudius, his brother, and Hamlet’s uncle. Nevertheless, it is not possible to claim that Hamlet has a strong character. This man is a weak-willed person and that can be perfectly understood by the reader from his famous “To be or not to be” monologue. A person who is going to kill himself doesn’t talk about his intentions, he simply does it. However, Hamlet with his reasoning shows himself as a hesitating character. If he was strong enough, Shakespeare wouldn’t make his monologue a central one. Furthermore, Hamlet’s character develops from an unhappy man to a cruel killer. This situation is typical for our life but we still never approve such behavior, and those people who commit crimes in despair are still considered criminals who should be punished. The personal development of Hamlet’s character proves the weakness of his nature once again. He is obsessed with the desire to get closer to death, but firstly he approaches death passively (McEvoy, 2000) (deaths of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz organized by Hamlet, Act V, Scene II). Hamlet wants to penetrate into depths of death’s mysteries but the curiosity of mind is his flaw. Shakespeare shows idle curiosity as the right way to death. It is relevant to mention a proverb: “Curiosity killed the cat.” Therefore, Hamlet can be considered not only as an unhappy man or a cruel killer but as a man with idle curiosity, which led to a fatal final.
Claudius can be considered to be responsible for his own death for the following reasons: the largest and maybe the most vicious human flaw greediness and desire of power destroyed not only his life but also the lives of many others. The relevance of this flaw is high on the agenda in modern society. Nowadays people agree to take any measures in order to reach their greedy goals and grasp as much power as possible. In their desire to be rich and powerful people forget about moral assets, which are transferred from one generation to another without any changes. So does Claudius, he kills his brother, takes his power and wife and “…the triumph of his pledge” (Act I Sc. IV, Lines 8-12).
Gertrude can be blamed for her death, while her flaw was in immoral behavior. Being the Queen of Denmark and the mother of Hamlet, she has a love affair with Claudius, a future killer of her husband and her brother-in-law. Female excessive sensuality and credulity are also flaws leading to death. She was also not strong enough to go through her loss and loneliness, thus she was ready to accept the love of Claudius straight after her husband’s death that is unacceptable for a widow. A widow should be in mourning for a certain time and should not turn into a bride straight after the funeral. Consequently, there is a proverb that claims: “The pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last”. The same thing happens to love affairs and credulity of Gertrude, she dies.
It is possible to find the underpinnings of Polonius’ death in his flaws as well. Being Claudius’ counselor, he follows his instructions and spies on Hamlet. Moreover, his excessive suspiciousness and control over his children Laertes and Ophelia are also his flaws (Shakespeare). Shakespeare makes fun of human habit: “Trust but verify”. This manner of behavior is unacceptable in the family. Vice versa it is necessary to treat others the way you want to be treated. Another mockery of Shakespeare on the example of Polonius is that one’s attempts to do a lot of harm to somebody will be repaid a hundredfold. Thus, Polonius reaches not Hamlet’s but his own death.
The underpinnings of Laerte’s death can be traced to the weakness of his character. Shakespeare mockers over weak-willed people who can be easily persuaded and scatter off their own principles easily. In a way Claudius convinces Laertes to kill Hamlet because the latter was supposedly guilty in the death of his father, the human flaw of the weakness of personal beliefs and an ability to fall under somebody’s influence leads Laertes to death. He is killed during a duel with Hamlet with the poisoned sword he was preparing to kill Hamlet. As it is clearly seen Laertes was killed with his own weapons.
Ophelia, a younger daughter of Polonius’ due to her thoughtlessness and imaginary love to Hamlet goes crazy and then dies. Her passive behavior is the root of future death. She is afraid of her father and brother and scatters off Hamlet’s attempts to be together. Moreover, she agrees to be a lure for Hamlet in the trap prepared by Polonius. She does not understand what is happening to Hamlet and does not make any attempt to help him. Human flaws of passivity and thoughtlessness are also vicious enemies and a favorable ground to future death (Gibson, 1998).
As far as we can see, a literary masterpiece “Hamlet” by Shakespeare is a bright example of a deductive play. Readers are taught that people are masters of their own lives. Shakespeare instills self-assurance and strength of spirit in his readers. He shows that his main characters are guilty of their own deaths. Though it sounds weird, it’s true. In such a way Shakespeare depicts human flaws, which can destroy human lives.
The great author prevents his readers from the easy temptation of taking easy ways in their lives. Shakespeare appeals to many generations to be strong-willed, self-assured people, with proper thinking and devotion to others. In such a way there will be no chance for thoughtless deaths and life tragedies. Greediness, the desire for power, thoughtlessness, immoral behavior are sins, which finally lead to death. Even the main character, who is considered as positive, is the victim of his flaw – weakness that finally leads to his death. Shakespeare teaches us to be strong, intelligent, and think properly. In such a way there will be no chance for thoughtless deaths and life tragedies.
- Boyce, Charles. Shakespeare A to Z: An Essential Reference to His Plays, His Poems, His Life and Times, and More. New York: Roundtable Press, 1990. Print.
- Gibson, Rex. Teaching Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.Print.
- McEvoy, Sean. Shakespeare: The Basics. New York: Routledge, 2000.
- Shakespeare’s Life and Times. Official Site of Shakespeare’s Study. 23 March 2010. Web.