Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is one of the most famous plays of English playwright. According to many well-respected art judges, this is one of the most profound creations of human genius, the great philosophical tragedy. No wonder, people turned to the Hamlet at different stages of human thought development, seeking to confirm their views on life and the world order. Shakespeare’s tragedy poses sharp moral issues, not nearly of an abstract nature. Like a character in real life, Hamlet may not be fully interpreted. All the same, it is clear that Shakespeare explored the whole problem of action and reflective mind on the base of this tragedy. This essay’s purpose is to consider the contradictory nature of the main character Hamlet and his intentions follow-up, explain what made him hesitate and postpone his actions in a state of permanent doubting.
The first thing that one should consider is a fallacy of the views on Hamlet as mainly the tragedy of human feebleness and lack of will. Some scholars reach the allegations that Shakespeare’s purpose is to show a weak-willed person and unfold the tragedy that occurs in the human soul. They render judgments on the person who intends to commit a great cause, but lacks the necessary forces. They knew of Hamlet mostly as a tragedy of powerlessness and lack of will, regardless of a number of scenes that depict Hamlet’s features of completely opposite character. In some instances, Shakespeare portrays Hamlet as a man of exceptional determination. Once again, these scholars use the arguments of common sense and worldly plausibility more than esthete of tragic plays.
Here, one can trace the dialectics in the character development. It turns out all Hamlet’s self-condemnations in lack of will are by the same token – the proof of his extraordinary volitional force. Waging a titanic struggle, displaying maximum strength and energy, he is still dissatisfied with himself. The playwright introduced contradiction into the drama not in vain, and it is only apparent. One can understand the words regarding the lack of will as the strongest proof of Hamlet’s will power.
Thus, one can see two markedly different Hamlets – hesitant and reflecting one as well as a man of deeds. He is a man called to overcome the sluggishness of life itself and even inertness of his disposition. He is determined in all cases until it refers to the basic decision – taking revenge. One must keep in mind that Hamlet is a hero enlightened on the base of humanity. He is the man who has to make a step back to medieval notions of “conscience” and “the realm of no return”. One can find proof of it in “The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns” (Shakespeare 69). “Conscience” as well as humanism, has become a modern word for us, changing and expanding its original content. The people of nowadays can hardly imagine how the Shakespearean audience perceived the same word, especially indicating the fear of punishment for the earthly deeds beyond the grave. Before one commits an evil deed, he waits for his “conscience” to sober down, to pass away as a green-sickness. The tragedy of Hamlet is that he had to undergo the pangs of remorse. It is not about that Hamlet does not want and cannot become shameless in terms of our current morality. He cannot find anything other than depending on the otherworldly, inhuman authority (God).
The need to take revenge on Claudius harasses the life out of Hamlet. It is a common truth that Hamlet took up a solemn resolution to forget all he had in his memory and set his mind on taking vengeance. It is a heavy burden placed on the shoulders of the young man. How can one explain the causes of Hamlet’s slowness in his pursuit of revenge? He is passing through a severe mental state that prevents him from revenge. The cause of the hero’s depression was not his father’s death and the loss of succession to the throne, but the conduct of his mother. Some scholars hold to the viewpoint that misbehavior of Gertrude, her lack of respect for the memory of the deceased spouse and perversity she displayed shook the soul of Hamlet. All above-said is the basis and mainspring of all his actions.
The reader gets used to seeing that Hamlet mostly postponed his deeds expected of him. It may be due to the difficulty of obtaining evidence and the inability to confirm the guilt of a killer. That is what is most important for Hamlet. He got to know about the crime committed by his uncle owing to the ghost of his father appearance and his reflections. Meanwhile, to kill the king, before being proven guilty, does not mean killing the perpetrator, but the destruction of evidence. It will not be killing the offender, it will be violating of Justice. This reason implies the behavior pattern of Hamlet. He first seeks to obtain evidence against Claudius, and it takes him much time. Then he encounters other hardships: the king strives to bring Hamlet to a standstill, surrounds him with spies, and tries to send him away from Denmark. One must confess, even physically for Hamlet it is not so easy to do the killing.
The tragedy of Hamlet is the tragedy of human’s understanding of evil. The Danish prince had lived undisturbed up to a certain time. He lived in the family, brightened by a mutual love of parents, he loved a pretty girl, and she returned his affection. In addition, he had jolly good friends, fervently engaged in science, loved the theater and wrote poetry. Then all of a sudden, everything started to crumble. At the dawn of years his father died. Hamlet had no time to outwear the sorrow as he underwent the second blow: his mother, who seemed to love his father so much, married a brother of the deceased. It occurred less than two months later, and she shared with Claudius the throne. And the third blow: Hamlet learned that his father had killed his brother in order to seize the crown and wife.
The shock experienced by Hamlet gave birth to a duality of his consciousness. Hamlet sees betrayal of two people related by family and blood: his mother and the brother of the king. If that is the case –- the people who should be closest transgress the laws of kinship, what can we expect from others? The example of his mother leads him to a sad conclusion: women are too frail to withstand the harsh trials of life.
In summing up all above-said, one can conclude the conduct of Hamlet is full of contradictions. It is true to achieve the goal; he resorted to the same immoral patterns as his opponents. He pretends to be cunning, seeks to find out the secret of his enemy, and deceiving. Paradoxically as it may seem – striving for noble purpose he is responsible for the death of several persons. Hamlet kills (though unintentionally) Polonius, sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to certain death, kills Laertes, and finally the king. Still in the eyes of all, he remains morally pure for he was pursuing the noble goals. The evil deeds he committed have always been a response to the intrigues of his enemies.