Hamlet Short Essay
One of William Shakespeare’s most recognizable plays is Hamlet. Everyone can recognize quotes like “To be or not to be” or “To thine own self be true” (Shakespeare). This play deals with a variety of dark themes, from murder to insanity. Hamlet is by far the best Shakespearian tragedy.
Hamlet is based around Prince Hamlet. Prince Hamlet’s family is very dysfunctional. His uncle, Claudius, kills Hamlet’s father, then marries Hamlet’s mother. Of course, Hamlet does not realize that Claudius killed his father until a ghost appears. Hamlet, being a man of justice, does not just take the ghosts word, running off to kill Claudius. Hamlet decides to gather proof by feigning insanity.
Knowing that his mother and Claudius would not hold him responsible if he were insane, Hamlet sets forth a plan to confirm his suspicions. When a troupe of actors comes to the castle, Hamlet has them re-enact his father’s murder using what the ghost revealed to him. Claudius recognizes the method he used to kill the elder Hamlet, so he stormed out in the middle of the play. When Hamlet goes to kill Claudius, he finds the king praying. Hamlet does not want to kill Claudius in a moment of prayer, so leaves him.
Throughout the whole play, Hamlet is seen as indecisive. It is not indecisiveness, but caution. Hamlet is sensitive to his own feelings. He wants to explore these feelings, before acting rashly. Shakespeare created a rare man in Hamlet, for his time and ours. Hamlet knew if he killed indiscriminately, his conscious would haunt him mercilessly for the rest of his life. Although Hamlet does not hesitate to kill when forced, this is shown when he stabs his true love’s father, Polonius, Claudius’ spy. Hamlet was warning his mother when a movement behind the curtain, which he thought was Claudius, made him stab Polonius.
As a result of Polonius’ death, Claudius sent Hamlet away to England with two men. The two men carry a dispatch ordering Hamlet’s death upon arrival. Fate intervenes when word comes that pirates had attacked Hamlet’s ship, allowing him to return to Denmark. Ophelia, Polonius’ daughter and Hamlet’s love, goes crazy at her father’s death. She drowns herself in the river. Her brother, Laertes, decides to avenge his sister and father by entering a fencing match with Hamlet. It is a trick, Laertes’ blade and the victory cup is tainted with posion, either way Hamlet will die. During the match, Hamlet’s mother drinks from the posioned goblet, instantly dying. Hamlet is cut by Laertes blade, but so is Laertes. In Laertes dying breath, he reveals the king’s plot to Hamlet. Hamlet then kills Claudius, before sucumbing to death.
All of the major characters die in this play. This leaves the audience to decide what motivated Hamlet. It could have been rage, hatred, vengeance, or maybe a purer motive; justice. Hamlet only killed in self defense or for justice. He did not kill Claudius on a feeling, he waited for proof. Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s more righteous characters. Hamlet proved his royal bloodlines by his cautious actions and wise judgement.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: Washington Square Press, 1992.