Nature Of Cruelty In Hamlet

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The personality of such characters as Hamlet from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is much remarked upon. However, it is even more meaningful to analyze changes in Hamlet’s character throughout the play. As Hamlet becomes more driven in his revenge, his actions lose morality and gain consequences. In fact, Shakespeare uses the relationship between a character’s cruelty and the meaning in the pain they cause to comment on the cyclically destructive nature of cruelty. Evidently, Hamlet is an excellent example of just such a character. As the play progresses, and Hamlet allows his “mortality [to] become clouded in uncertainty,” (Corroll, 1) the deaths he causes go from almost accidental, as is the case in Polonius, to petty revenge, as in his sending the simple, unknowing henchmen Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their executions. Ironically,…show more content…
This amorality stems from his desire to avenge the “rank and gross[ly]” (Shakespeare, 29) cruel actions of his uncle, the King Claudius. In the end however, both Hamlet and Claudius die with little pomp, victims of each other in a cyclical stream of karma. Shakespeare uses this eventuality to denounce the use of cruelty as a means to an end, for it brings nought but meaningless death. The fact that Hamlet becomes so cruel specifically because of Claudius’ treachery is a testament to the relationship between oppressor and oppressed. As Hamlet becomes that which he once hated, Shakespeare emphasizes the fact that the line between victim and oppressor is often more blurred than defined. Likewise, the relationship between tyrant and sufferer is also evident in Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia. Though she does not intend to “[give] him hard words,” (Shakespeare, 81) Ophelia is cruel to Hamlet first
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