Perhaps one of the most perplexing problems a modern audience may have with Shakespeare's Hamlet is the obvious question: what takes him so long to act on the Ghost's request for revenge? The obvious but simple answer is that if he did not take his time, we would have 'Hamlet: The Short Story' instead of 'Hamlet: The Classic Play'. There are, however, valid reasons for Hamlet's slow behaviour. Among them are his public role in the monarchy of Denmark, his education, and the environment of Elsinore.
Hamlet is first and foremost the Prince of Denmark. There are no brothers or sisters, and he is the popular, well-liked son of an equally popular and well-liked King and Queen. Not unlike the royal families of today, the royals of Elsinore have two lives—a public one and a private one, both of which are very much interlinked. Their lives as a whole are really not their own, yet their privacy is apparently a sacrifice they are willing to make to render service to Denmark. Hamlet's father, King Hamlet, had done much to ensure that Denmark was well protected. His untimely death was marked by intense mourning at the court, as well it should have been for a man of his position.
However, Gertrude's marriage to Claudius before a month of mourning had passed could be interpreted as a breach of protocol. This is why in the opening scenes, Claudius goes to such lengths to calm and soothe the concerns of the court. When Hamlet returns to the court from school in Wittenburg, Germany, it is impossible that he can escape what awaits him.
The tenants of this castle include the King's minister, Polonius, and his family, Laertes and Ophelia, as well as a coterie of government officials (Cornelius and Voltemand), guards (Marcellus and Bernardo and their companies), and courtiers (Osric, for example). In this environment, to have even a small amount of privacy is almost impossible since there is always someone somewhere. Such a transgression as the apparently unprovoked murder of a royal minister would open all sorts of questions for Claudius that he may be able to answer.
Even Hamlet's private life is of public concern, especially when it comes to his selection of a wife. Laertes tells Ophelia in no uncertain terms that her relationship with Hamlet is fruitless:
Perhaps he loves you now,
And no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of his will; but you must fear,
His greatness being weighed, his will is not his own.
For he himself is subject to his birth.
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself, for on his choice depends
The safety and health of this whole state,
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head.
The selection of a future queen is an issue at the very core of a monarchy's survival. On the political side, it was common practice to cement peace treaties with a marriage between two ruling houses. A wife's main function as queen was to produce a male heir for the King. In a kingdom like Denmark, which had an elected monarchy, it was doubly important that a future king be suitably matched for the peace and stability of the country.
Gertrude has produced Hamlet; however, the possibility of a direct heir for Claudius is remote, if not impossible, as Hamlet says: 'at your age/ The heyday in the blood is tame' (3.4.1617). The pressure on Hamlet to continue the line and Claudius' desire to keep the Prince off the throne come into direct conflict. Ophelia, as the daughter of a minister, cannot bring either wealth or security to a marriage with Hamlet. Although Hamlet's profession of love at her funeral is moving and sincere, it is unlikely that they would have been allowed to marry...
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Critical Analysis of Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay examples
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Critical Analysis of Shakespeare's Hamlet
What is mans' purpose in life? Is there a purpose? If there isn't, then is it wise to end it, despite the fact that there might be nothing better? In Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Hamlet struggles with these and other issues. He states that the question of life is "To be, or not to be...?" Is existence really worth the troubles of life? In this monologue, Hamlet is wondering what is his purpose. He asserts that the only reason people endure their horrible lives is the uncertainty of what lies after death. "Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death..." Is it noble to suffer, and is life worth all its misery? Hamlet…show more content…
Hamlet's mother has just lost a husband, his uncle is worried and guilt-stricken over the terrible crime he committed of murdering his brother, and Ophelia, Hamlet's lover, is miserable because her half-witted father has forbidden her to see Hamlet. This soliloquy pertanes not only to Hamlet, but to virtually all the characters in the play. All the characters are "bear[ing] the whips and scorns" of their piteous lives.
The monologue is not only relevant to the characters in Hamlet, but to all people. Many people feel at some point that their lives are not worth living . They may question if life has a purpose, and whether or not they are serving that purpose. It is quite easy to relate to Hamlet's feelings of woe and uncertainty. This is what makes Hamlet timeless. No matter what century, country, or person, everyone has experienced to some degree what Hamlet endured. Perhaps someone has just lost a father, or undergone a divorce. They could relate to Hamlet's misery. They may not contemplate suicide, as is what is sometimes believed about Hamlet, but they do have questions about life, and the afterlife. Shakespeare uses Hamlet's feelings to express his own, as well as those of all people. Because of this, Hamlet has become a classic.
Hamlet's character represents people in all circumstances. He questions everything, and has experienced love, hate, betrayal, depression, grief, and anger. He is sometimes