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Hamlet Five Best Features

0 February 06 2017, 03:00 in Literary Analysis Essays

Hamlet’s Five Best Features

Hamletis considered as one of the best works of William Shakespeare. What sets this play apart is the fact that Shakespeare has elegantly created a complex and well-rounded protagonist, Prince Hamlet. From the moment that he is introduced to the audience up to the conclusion of the play, Hamlet is presented as a multi-faceted character. While he is a man of many qualities, Shakespeare highlighted five of his protagonist’s best traits. This includes (1) he is intelligent, (2) he is contemplative, (3) he is enigmatic and is full of contradictions, (4) he is courageous, and (5) he is loving and passionate. These qualities make his character extremely interesting and fascinating.

Being extremely intelligent is one of the best qualities of Hamlet. Throughout the play, the audience or readers is presented with a protagonist who is clever and quick witted. He is depicted as a university student whose studies were interrupted because of his father’s sudden demise. More than his background, however, Hamlet’s logic and intellect became all the more evident in the scenes where he is talking to himself. In the third soliloquy, Hamlet displays his most logic self when he begins to explore the idea of suicide and its moral legitimacy. In this scene, Hamlet asks a very though-provoking question which shows his complex reasoning ability. Shakespeare further underlines his protagonist’s mental ability in the passage, "What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, their forms and movements fast and admirable, their actions angelic, and their understanding god-like” (Act II, Scene II). While the question was posed by Hamlet, the line is, nonetheless, a clear assertion of the extraordinary capacity of his mind.

In addition to these, Hamlet presents his cleverness by pretending to be crazy. This, however, was a front for him to find out who killed his father. Hamlet convinces people that his sanity is fragile. Hence, he declares, "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw” (Act II, Scene II). Such passage reveals that the protagonist’s madness is in fact, calculated. This means that his portrayals were plots to "catch the conscience of the king” (Act II, Scene II).

Another interesting quality of the protagonist is his contemplativeness. More than any characters in the play, Hamlet seems to be the only one who analyzes things from various angles or point of view. In the play’s most popular soliloquy, Hamlet displays his ability to reflect and contemplate on things by asking the question "to be or not to be?”. Through this line, he evaluates the moral consequences of dying and living. He alternately considers if it is nobler to live a life of suffering or to simply stop such pain through death. The protagonist further presents his ability to reflect by enumeration the different moral consequences of his choices. Such is evident in the lines, "Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them” (Act II, Scene I). Initially, the readers see the prince and his belief that death is the only logical and desirable alternative. As the scene progresses, however, Hamlet also contemplates about the uncertainty that death brings. This is made apparent in the lines, "conscience does make cowards of us all… thus the native hue of resolution is sickled o’er with the pale cast of thought” (Act II, Scene III). In both scenes, Hamlet beautifully shows everyone his capacity to weight things despite of his grief.

Another appealing quality of Hamlet is his mysteriousness. Among all of Shakespeare’s characters, there is perhaps none, who is more enigmatic as the Prince of Denmark. This characteristic is best expressed in the first part of the play when Shakespeare presented him to the readers. That is, his inky cloak is symbolic of the many contradictions that he possesses. For example, Hamlet is seen as a character that is cautious but at time impulsively. I many parts of the play, the readers see Hamler carefully assessing and plotting schemes in order to discover the culprit behind his father’s death. At the latter part, however, the protagonist quickly stabs Polonius through the curtain. He does this action with swiftness and with very little thought if he was stabbing the right person. Another point of contradiction is that Hamlet acts both as a madman and as someone who is very intelligent. In fact, in many parts of the play, the readers see Hamlet’s mad outbursts of grief and anger. That is, he is presented in many scenes as someone who behaves erratically which causes the other characters to become upset. A closer analysis of his words, however, would reveal the logic behind his actions and lamentations. Another contradiction hos how he professes his love for his country, and yet he a relatively minimal amount of time thinking about the threats to his country’s national security and stability. Being heartless and virtuous is another contradiction which Hamlet showed. This is evident with how he lashes out at Ophelia and how he mistreats her with such disrespect. This is apparent when he says, "God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig” (Act III, Scene I). As the story progress, however, Hamlet then confesses his genuine love for Ophelia when he realizes that she is gone. The Prince laments, "I love Ophelia: forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love make up my sum” (Scene V, Act I). Such scenarios, therefore demonstrate that this play’s protagonist is full of contradictions, which in turn, makes him all the more interesting and fascinating.

Courage is another quality which makes Hamlet appealing. During the first few parts of the play, Hamlet is presented as a character that is full of grief, melancholy, and discontent with the events of his life. He is also filled with sadness with the passing of his father. Despite of the overwhelming emotions, Hamlet finds himself in a position where he must forget his feelings and perform a courageous task – avenge his father. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s desire to avenge his father is balanced with his fears and anxieties related to the act of killing someone. Hence, delays the chance to kill Claudius as long as he can. His courage to do such task eventually came when he returns from exile. In the end, he confronts the truth that in order to avenge his father, he must also commit the same act. That is, he realizes that he must also kill himself. Such realization is exactly what makes his character courageous.

Passion is another trait that sets Hamlet apart from the other characters. This is because the protagonist is portrayed as someone who is full of intensity and passion for the things and people he loves. For example, his character displays such intense love for Ophelia, which at times, he disguises as contempt. Hamlet uses Ophelia as his outlet for anger, and yet despite this, he proclaims his eternal and boundless love for her. Apart from Ophelia, Hamlet also displays his love for his father. The intensity of his grief is suggestive of how much he loved and missed his father. In fact, he looks at him with utmost respect and tenderness which is exactly why he finds the actions of his mother unacceptable. He passionately expressed his love for his father in the lines, "So excellent a king, that was to his Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother” (Act I, Scene II). Again such lines indicate that Hamlet is a character that is not only passionate but loving as well.

To sum, Hamlet’s character is interesting and appealing mainly because he created with a multitude of traits. This includes his intelligence, his ability to weight and reflect on things, he is enigmatic and is full of contradictions, he is courageous, and lastly, he is passionate and loving. These characteristics make the protagonist not only appealing but in many ways relatable to the readers.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. "Hamlet”, from Kennedy, X.J. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction,

Poetry, Drama, and Writing. New York: Longman, 2012

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