Critical Analysis of Shakespeare Hamlet
Hamlet plays a significant role in the play, and hence, acts as a central character. He portrays different personalities and behaviors such as madness and insanity. Things were normal before his uncle killed Hamlet’s father to take over the kingdom. From the first act, he knew the person who had killed his father. As a result, he decided to inflict pain slowly to harm his uncle emotionally and physically. The book presents the various reasons why Hamlet decided to kill his uncle in a slow and painful manner.
In the first chapter, Hamlet is in the right state of mind but is later questioned by the audiences after they notice how he always changed his behavior. He acts like a mad person so that he could fool people to think he is harmless to investigate the death of his father. Ophelia meets up with Polonius, remembers the earlier encounter with Hamlet, and informs her father that Hamlet came to her in a shaken state talking about horrors (Act 2 scene 2 line 95). Ophelia answered the question asked by Polonius and replied that she informed Hamlet that she cannot see or talk to him anymore. Her father thought that his daughter was the cause of hamlet’s state of mind, which in this case is unstable (Shakespeare 38).
The debate concerning the sanity of Hamlet is believed to be due to his unending love for Ophelia. The struggle for Hamlet’s state of mind is evident to the audience as portrayed in Act 3 scene 2. In this scenario, Hamlet confirms that he is known to be or not to be. The question he seeks to answer in Act 3 scene 1 line 64. The audience can easily predict the dilemma that Hamlet finds himself in. He aims to know how he would overcome the pains of existence in a competitive world and how to avenge the death of his father, or commit suicide as Sigmund Freud states it to be “Oedipus Rex Complex” (Shakespeare 59). Hamlet wanted to kill his father to gain his mother’s attention only for himself. However, what keeps bothering him is his loyalty to his family most importantly his father (Shakespeare 76).
In Act 4 scene 2, Hamlet meets his friends Rosen chats and Guildenstern. Hamlet is portrayed to be completely mad, as he has murdered Polonius. His friends are questioning him on where to hide the body of the slain man. The irony of it all is that Hamlet himself is not being honest to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and does not give them any feedback. Hamlet has completely changed and becomes a different person as he has lost all his sanity (Shakespeare 47).
Hamlet’s tactic to delay in avenging the death of his father is questionable since he learned from Act 1 scene 5 about the death of his father. His father ‘ghost appears to him, and Hamlet is informed that the ghost is indeed is his father who was murdered by Claudius. The spirit refers to Claudius as …that incestuous and adulterates beast (Act 1 scene 5 line 42). All this occur at the beginning of the play. Hamlet had many chances of killing Claudius who murdered his father. Hamlet was not interested in killing Claudius rather he wanted to inflict pain by mistreating him and killing his soul. During the play, an actor playing the role of the king (Hamlet’s father) is murdered Claudius jumps from his seat and storms out of the theater. This confirmed Hamlet’s suspicion that Claudius killed the king (Landa 75)
Hamlet is patiently gaining the strength needed to revenge the death of his father. Previously, he had the opportunity to murder Claudius (Act 3 scene 3). In the scene, Hamlet goes to Claudius while he is praying and removes his sword with the intention of killing him there and then. Later, he seems to change his tactic since he decides to wait so that he would kill Claudius when he is committing a sin. He was so determined to ruin his life even after death since he wanted to kill him after he commits some sin so that he goes to hell as opposed to now that he was praying and would go heaven. Despite this, Claudius is dealing with a guilty conscience of murdering his brother and marrying his widow. It creates a situation where Hamlet decides to postpone the mission of avenging his father’s death. He decides to delay the mission of avenging the death of his father. The reason for prolonging the death of Claudius was to inflict more and more pain and to kill him eventually. Hamlet wanted to harm Claudius both psychologically and emotionally. The irony of it all is that Claudius claims he was not happy and that his prayers were not successful. Hamlet finally kills Claudius after learning that he (Claudius) wanted to kill Hamlet to become the reigning king of Denmark (Brown 48).
Hamlet’s increase sexual attraction to his mother was evident in the play. In Act 4 scene 4, he was outrageous jealous that Claudius his uncle got married to his mother. Hamlet goes to his mother’s room, he finds Polonius, and he murders him and goes ahead to make love to his mother. This act is known as “Oedipus Rex Complex “ (Shakespeare 38) Sigmund Freud claimed this to be the state in which younger men find attraction in their mothers and may kill their fathers to gain all the mother’s attention. In the play, Hamlet was obsessed with his mother from the beginning even before the death of his father, and that is the reason as to why the father’s ghost kept appearing to him to remind him about avenging mission of his death. At first, the obsession with his mother could be interpreted as caused by the death of his father, which overwhelmed him. The fact that he was not able to talk to the love of his life Ophelia, Hamlet became confused between avenging the death of his father and the love he had for his mother. Thus, he wanted to commit suicide. In the end, he is determined to avenge the death of his father (Bradley 65).
In conclusion, the act of Hamlet killing the murderer of his father is seen as a heroic act that brings peace and stability to the disorderly kingdom. Claudius is depicted as a selfish, greedy and self -driven individual who wants to rule the country in every possible way killing those hindering his dream including his brother. On the other hand, Hamlet is seen as a hero before the public eye as he later revealed the truth about the death of the king.
Bradley, Andrew Cecil. Shakespearean Tragedy; Lectures on Hamlet, Othello. Macmillan and Company, limited, 1922.
Brown, John Russell. Shakespeare: the tragedies. Palgrave, 2001.
Landa, José Ángel García. “William Shakespeare: Hamlet.”
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ryerson Press, 1929.
Shakespeare, William. The tragedy of Hamlet. University Press, 1904.
Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Harper, 1881.