The Tragic Hero in Shakespeare's Hamlet: A Research Paper

In the work ''Hamlet' Research Paper: Essay' we will talk about the author of this poem and research main themes of it. William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor. He is considered as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories, but then he started to write mainly tragedies, among them Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. The mentioned works are all considered to be among the finest works in the English language. His plays have been translated into every major language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare’s plays are well known, and they tackle many critical themes one can explore and learn from. One of these great plays is Hamlet, which is basically a tragic story that results from a number of miseries including injustice, and revenge that feed the theme of loss which surfaces many times throughout the play, and which also includes the loss of loved ones. The theme of loss is clear when King Hamlet and Ophelia die, and when trust is destroyed between Hamlet, Claudius, and his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It is also clear when, generally, power is lost and is granted to people who should not have it in their hands; as they do not deserve it such as Claudius (Hamlet’s uncle).

Although the play contains many themes, the theme of loss is the most prominent one. It is a significant one for Hamlet because it is accompanied with an actual experience he lives as he witnesses his family’s dark activities, which have great negative impacts on him that lead him to insanity. The mentioned theme is introduced right from the opening scene of the play, where the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears and informs Hamlet of death and its consequences. The ghost provides Hamlet with the truth that Claudius (The ghost’s brother) murdered him for the throne, and married his wife (Hamlet’s mother). Accordingly, Hamlet is devastated with this information; as such sharp truth does not only overwhelm him but severely shocks him too. He curses both Gertrude and Claudius as he says “O, villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!” (Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 5). The ghost of Hamlet’s father then challenges Hamlet to take revenge for him (i.e. for his father) by killing Claudius. Later in the play, Hamlet actually enters Claudius’s chambers, with the intention to kill him, but decides not to when he sees him praying. He says “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” (Shakespeare Act3, Scene 3). The facts revealed by the ghost affected Hamlet greatly and actually led him to a state of insanity where he considered suicide. In light of the death of Hamlet’s father, Hamlet contemplates the meaning of life and its end. This is probably some sort of implicit obsession “with the need for an absolute sincerity in grief”. For example, will someone who has been murdered go to heaven? He also contemplates whether suicide is a moral action in a world when the pain becomes unbearable. It appears that Hamlet is more afraid of the unknown of consequences of death rather than death itself. In his famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy, Hamlet determines that no one would accept to suffer the pain of life if they were not after of what comes after death. Thus, he considers taking his own life and risking it due to depression over his father’s death and the pressures of life.

The death of Ophelia, Hamlet’s love, also had a negative impact on Hamlet himself. Ophelia received the news of her Polonius’s death and immediately drowned after the accidental stabbing of her father. The impact of her death caused Hamlet to live with increasing guilt and so he was forcefully driven into insanity and was seriously considering ending his own life by committing suicide.

One of Hamlet’s biggest flaws was his lack of trust which caused him continuous problems with many people around him. He felt betrayed because his mother married King Claudius (his uncle) after Claudius had murdered his father and taken over his throne. The person who falls heavily under this category is indeed his uncle Claudius. Hamlet’s hatred of him intensified after he came to an awareness of his ugly actions of killing his own brother for the throne. Thus, the trust of his uncle was immediately destroyed. What adds insult to the injury is that Claudius marries Hamlet’s mother, which not only amplified the hate towards Claudius, but it also led Hamlet to not only immediately lose trust in his uncle, but also to lose trust in his mother Gertrude. He says “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 2). Here, Hamlet expresses his disgust for his mother’s actions in the wake of King Hamlet’s death. He complains of his mother’s moral weakness, and expresses his devastating feelings to his close friend, Horatio, about how rapidly their wedding took place after his father’s death, he says “Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral baked meats Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.” (Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 2). Hamlet also instantly lost his trust in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern after he had found out about their plan of spying on him and trying to kill him on the way to England. It seems that Hamlet trusted his friends, but he never received the same trust from them in return. This led Hamlet to shut them out of his life.

Finally, the feeling of power is something that everyone strives to possess and is presented in Hamlet in various ways throughout the text. Loss of power and corruption occurred in Denmark after Claudius, the brother of the old King Hamlet who kills him out of a thirst for power. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, corruption had inevitably led to the downfall of Denmark. Hamlet describes the present state of Denmark as an “unweeded garden” (Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 2) where only nasty weeds grow in it. Hamlet cannot believe that Denmark has now worsened and has become such a scandalous place where the new king is not as responsible as he should be. Also, Hamlet plays a great example of this theme since he lost so many things in his life as his father, his mother after she married Claudius, and Ophelia, the love of his life. All these things led Hamlet to lose faith and patience over himself and to feel that he is invaluable or unimportant in life.

In conclusion, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was a tragic tale that demonstrated numerous acts of injustice, and revenge that gave way to psychopathic actions. The play demonstrates countless amounts of themes, but most prominently the theme of Loss. The play reveals this theme through the loss of trust between people, the loss of loved ones, and even the loss of power which many seek.

10 October 2022
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