hamlet help


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    • #11961

      The appeal of shakespeares hamlet lies primarily in the complex nature of the plays central character, hamlet

      Anyone have a sample answer on this?

    • #67097
      Jon Ryan

      Hi Raf,

      I do not have a sample answer at the moment, but here is an an answer structure

      1) Hamlet – his appeal is because he is intriguing, which is caused by his complex nature: his intrigue comes from the complexity of his character, as he repeatedly contradicts himself, constantly revealing further elements of his personality/ psyche and more questions about his character, rather than answers:

      1) He wants to avenge his father’s death, but cannot: Hamlet longs to kill Claudius (as stated in Act 1) but does not: why? Is he not suited to his task, as he is too thoughtful to complete a task which he realises too many reprecussions of? Or is it for another reason?

      2) He wants to avenge his father’s death, but will not: he has many opportunities (e. g prayer scene) and the evidence to back up the ghost (e. g the play), but he does not kill Claudius until the end. Why not?

      3) Hamlet appears incapable of evil, but in the prayer scene he seems to have an evil side, as he does not want to just kill Claudius, but give him the greatest punishment possible, which may be the reason he does not kill him. Is Hamlet truly evil?

      4) He initially fears death and will not contemplate suicide, due to its sinful nature, but as the play progresses he become more preoccupied with it, such as with his ‘To be or not to be’ speech and his finding of Yorick’s skull. We are left wondering why this is so: is he giving up? Is he depressed?

      5) He appears to include Ophelia in his plan to appear mad, but at her funeral says he loves her. Was/ is he in love with her? Or is this part of a game? Should we criticize him for even using her in death, or pity him because only now can he realise his love for her, when it is too late?





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    • #67098

      How is the character of Hamlet portrayed as an enigma?

      Hamlet is an enigma. No matter how many ways we try examine him, no absolute truth emerges. Hamlet breathes with the multiple dimensions of a human being, and everyone understands him in a personal way. Hamlet’s challenge to Guildenstern rings true for everyone who seeks to know him: “You would pluck out the heart of my mystery.” None of us ever really does. The conundrum that is Hamlet stems from the fact that every time we look at him, he is different in some small way. Our perceptions depend on what we bring to the table. Hamlet is so complete a character that, like an old friend or relative, our relationship to him changes each time we visit him, and he never ceases to surprise us. His being stems from the main conflict the death of his father old hamlet and such an action could be thought as of making hamlet bi-polar. Going from great highs to miserable lows. Therein lays the secret to the enduring love affair audiences have with him. They never tire of the intrigue and the multi-dimensional personality.

      The paradox of Hamlet’s nature draws people to the character. He is at once the consummate iconoclast, in self-imposed exile from Elsinore Society, while, at the same time, he is the champion of Denmark, the people’s hero. He has no friends left, but Horatio loves him unconditionally. Although the two he believes are his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the two he quickly turns against when he discovers they are working for Claudius. This eventually leads to them being killed leaving hamlet very isolated with his only friend Horatio. He is angry, dejected, depressed, and brooding; he is manic, elated, enthusiastic, and energetic. He is dark and suicidal, a man who loathes himself and his fate. Yet, at the same time, he is an existential thinker who accepts that he must deal with life on its own terms that he must choose to meet it head on. “We defy augury. There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow.”

      Hamlet not only participates in his life, but astutely observes it as well. He recognizes the decay of the Danish society (represented by his Uncle Claudius), but also understands that he can blame no social ills on just one person. He remains aware of the ironies that constitute human endeavour, and he savours them. Though he says, “Man delights not me,” the contradictions that characterize us all intrigue him. “What a piece of work is a man. How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!”

      Astutely as he observes the world around him, Hamlet also keenly criticises himself. In his soliloquies he chastises himself for his failure to act as well as for his propensity for words. Hamlet is infuriatingly adept at twisting and manipulating words. He confuses his so-called friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern whom he trusts as he “would adders fanged” with his dissertations on ambition, turning their observations around so that they seem to admire beggars more than their King. And he leads them on a chase in search of Polonius’ body. “You’ll not find him but in a short time ye will smell him” He openly mocks the tottering Polonius with his word plays, which elude the old man’s understanding. He continually spars with Claudius, who recognizes the danger of Hamlet’s wit but is never smart enough to defend himself against it.

      Words are Hamlet’s constant companions, his weapons, and his defences. And yet, words also serve as Hamlet’s prison. He analyzes and examines every nuance of his situation until he has exhausted every angle. They cause him to be indecisive. He dallies in his own wit, intoxicated by the mix of words he can concoct; he frustrates his own burning desire to be more like his father, the Hyperion. When he says that Claudius is “. . . no more like my father than I to Hercules” he recognizes his enslavement to words, his inability to thrust home his sword of truth. No mythic character is Hamlet. He is stuck, unable to avenge his father’s death because words control him. “What an ass am I? This is most brave, That I, the son of a dear murdered Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must like a whore unpack my heart with words, And fall-a-cursing like a very drab, A scallion!.” This very character trait is also very connected to his procrastination at not doing the deed he was instructed to do by his dead father. This constant waiting and pausing for thought our hamlets enemies he is choked by his need to be sure and his idleness to kill Claudius. It is only when his own death is assured that he finally takes Claudius’s life. A play on Hamlets destiny perhaps? Only in death can the murder of a king be righted.

      Is Hamlet in love with his mother? The psychoanalytic profile of the character supports Freud’s theory that Hamlet has an unnatural love for his mother. Hamlet unequivocally hates his stepfather and abhors the incestuous relationship between Claudius and Gertrude. But whether jealousy prompts his hatred, whether his fixation on his mother causes his inability to love Ophelia, and whether he lusts after Gertrude all depend on interpretation. He is appalled by Gertrude’s show of her pleasure at Claudius’ touch, and he clearly loathes women. His anger over Claudius’ and Gertrude’s relationship could as easily result from a general distaste for sexual activity as from desire to be with his mother. Hamlet could be, at heart, a brutal misogynist, terrified of love because he is terrified of women. He verbally abuses Ophelia, using sexual innuendo and derision, and he encourages her to “get thee to a nunnery”.

      Is hamlet mad or merely pretending madness determining all the questions about Hamlet’s nature? Could a madman manipulate his destiny as adeptly as Hamlet turns the tables on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Perhaps his own portrayal of madness his “antic disposition” that he dons like a mask or a costume actually drives him. Could Hamlet’s madness be his tragic flaw? Perhaps, the ghost is a manifestation of his own conscience and not a real presence at all?

      Is Hamlet a tragic hero at all? Hamlet has no great power, though it is clear from Claudius’ fears and from Claudius’ assessment of Hamlet’s popularity that he might have power were he to mix it among the people. His topple results as much from external factors as from his own flaws. Nevertheless, he certainly does take everyone with him when he falls. Shakespeare created a tragic hero who can appeal to a larger, more enduring segment of the population. Hamlet fulfils the Aristotelian requirement that the tragic hero invoke in us a deep sense of pity and fear, that we learn from him how not to conduct our lives. Hamlet is our hero because he is both confused and enticed by endless dilemmas that come from being, after all, merely human.

      Always here to help :D

      Best plan of attack

      Nathan wheeler

    • #67099


      follow this link for my leaving cert notes for any part of the course that you are struggling with from a qualified teacher.

    • #67100

      That link doesnt work

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