Hamlet Critical Analysis

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“Conscience does make cowards of us all” (3.1.83) - a phrase that describes perfectly Hamlet’s elusiveness to take on, and eventually complete the dreadful task of vengeance. William Shakespeare’s eponymous tragedy Hamlet brings forward an essentially puzzling character that orbits perpetually in uncertainty and ambivalence regarding his actions. Always on the edge of self-destruction and madness, his procrastination has become an essential facet of the play’s outcome, and as Andrew Cutrofello points out: “the only thing Hamlet is incapable of doing resolutely is killing the man who murdered his father and married his mother” (2014: 19). Although it is simply a matter of passing from reflection to reaction, it seems that Hamlet’s…show more content…
As we can see, the acute conflict “between straining toward and refraining from action is central to the play” (Levy, 2008: 75), and has made scholars focus on analyzing both his actions, as well as his passivity. And why is that? Well, many critics have considered that both aspects are conclusive for the play’s outcome, and that not only his decisions and steps taken foregrounded Hamlet’s tragic end, but also his inaction and constant hesitation were essential components in the end. To begin with, the Ghost’s appearance is the crucial element that triggers Hamlet’s state of mind and course of action. Our main character is urged to act upon his father’s murder, and thus his purpose is established: “So art thou to revenge/this most foul, strange and unnatural” death (1.4.8 - 28). From now on he feels compelled by the necessary property of…show more content…
A good example is the conduct that he exhibits when he visits Ophelia in her chambers, and scares her with his irrational behavior: “O help him, you sweet Heavens”/[…] O heavenly powers, restore him”(3.1.122-24). Many more instances occur in his interaction with his childhood friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, also with Polonius, Ophelia’s father, and the King and Queen, so as to convince them of his madness. Quite paradoxically, Hamlet’s mind dissociates from the world around him, and by the end of the play his “sovereignty of reason” (1.4.73) betrays him, transforming Hamlet into an irrational man, whose behavior becomes dangerous. He acts impulsively, without comprehending the full extent of his actions.. A clear example of such conduct is when he stabs Polonius to death, thinking he is Claudius.
Hamlet: “How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead” [...]
Queen: “O me, what hast thou done?”
Hamlet: “Nay, I know not. Is it the
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