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One of the most unique elements of the Hamlet character is that he is so human. Many types of readers can identify with him. Hamlet is imperfect, and he is fretful. Hamlet has human properties, and it is his humanity that I intend to explore. Indeed it is these human
qualities and imperfections that make his story so tragic. Another tragic part of the play is the plays irony. Irony is an important tool in the hands of the playwright to achieve both comical and/or dramatic effect. There is usually little reason for a tragedy to be funny, so
Shakespeare has used this tool to add more tragedy to the play. I will investigate the nature of this irony. Also, I will investigate the types of conflict that play a major part in the play and the relationships between Hamlet and the two people who have been closest
to him; Ophelia and the Ghost.
Hamlet cannot share his strong feelings and emotions with his mother or his girlfriend. While his mother is literally sleeping with the enemy, Ophelia has chosen the side of Claudius because of her father, Polonius. It is especially difficult for Hamlet to
talk to Ophelia. The only other woman in his life, Gertrude, has betrayed his father by marrying Claudius. Hamlet may be obsessed with the idea that all women are evil, yet he really does love Ophelia, because when he finds out Ophelia has died, he cries out, "I lov'd
Ophelia; forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum."(Act V, Scene 1)
The ghost provides Hamlet with a dilemma. In Shakespeare's plays, supernatural characters are not always to be trusted; think of the three witches in MacBeth, who are
instrumental in his downfall. Hamlet does not know whether the ghost is telling the truth or not. If Hamlet had killed Claudius solely on the ghost's advice, he would certainly have been tried and put to death himself. There would probably have been a war to choose the new king. Being the humanitarian that he is, and taking account of his responsibilities as a prince and future king, Hamlet most likely would want to avoid civil war. Even though Claudius is a murderer, and probably not as noble a king as Hamlet's father was, he is still
a king. He brings order to Denmark. Hamlet does not wish to plunge his country into chaos. He realizes that this will happen when he kills Claudius. Hamlet is unable to combine the spiritual world (in the form of his father's ghost) with the tangible, every-day
world that surrounds him.
There is much irony throughout this play. One occurrence of irony I found particularly striking was the fact that Hamlet effectively maneuvers himself into the same position as Claudius. Claudius had attacked and killed a man who did not have the
opportunity to defend himself, but when Hamlet kills Polonius, is he not guilty of the same? It is intriguing that both Claudius and Hamlet have killed fathers. It is interesting to see how these two completely different characters deal with this problem in different
Other interesting parallels I found are the numerous deaths by poison. Hamlet's father was murdered by Claudius with poison. In the final act, the queen is the first to be poisoned, by drinking from Hamlet's cup. Then, Hamlet is wounded by the poisoned tip
of Laertes' sword. When they change swords, Hamlet gets the upper hand and Laertes is poisoned. When the queen dies, Laertes explains all to Hamlet, before he dies. Hamlet then kills Claudius before dying himself. It is ironic that, as Claudius is poisoned because
of his own plotting, he had already signed his own death warrant when he killed Hamlet's father, the first tragic action of the play. There are only three people in this play who don't die by poisoning: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet their deaths in England, after
being outsmarted by Hamlet. The third is Ophelia, who is drowned.
There are three types of conflict I can identify in the play: 'man versus man', 'man versus nature' and 'man versus himself'. Hamlet's fight with Laertes in Ophelia's grave and the subsequent duel would both easily classify as 'man versus man' conflicts. Man also
struggles with nature in this play, most notably in the form of Ophelia's drowning and
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Characters in Hamlet, Prince Hamlet, Hamlet, Ophelia, Gertrude, Laertes, Polonius, Horatio, Ghost, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Critical approaches to Hamlet
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