Essay on The Character of Hamlet

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The Character of Hamlet

This essay will delve into the character of the hero of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet as it develops through the drama, and will analyze the more important features.

Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar in “Hamlet: A Man Who Thinks Before He Acts” explain the popularity of the protagonist:

Much of the delight of modern readers, of course, comes from the study of the characters of the principal figures in the play, for Shakespeare has presented them in three-dimensional vividness. We feel that they are living beings with problems that are perennially human. If a modern man is not called upon, as Hamlet was, to avenge a murdered father, he nevertheless must face crises in his own life
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a beast, that wants discourse of reason,

Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle [. . .] . (1.2)

Soon Horatio, the hero’s closest friend (“Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man / As e'er my conversation coped withal.”), and Marcellus make contact with Hamlet and escort him to the ramparts of Elsinore. Philip Edwards in “The Ghost: Messenger from a Higher Court of Values?” explains that “Hamlet is galvanized into activity by the news of the appearance of a ghost that resembles his dead father”(Edwards 66-67). At one a.m. the Ghost reveals to the protagonist the extent of the evil within Elsinore. The Ghost says that King Hamlet I was murdered by Claudius, who had a relationship with Gertrude prior to the murder; the ghost requests revenge by Hamlet: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.”

Hamlet swears to carry out vengeance on King Claudius for the murder of his father. From the outset of the drama, but especially with the personal qualities manifested during the ghost scene, the audience sees the continuing development of Hamlet’s character into one of very complex temperament and motivation, which would render him quite “rounded” (Abrams 33). Maynard Mack in “The World of Hamlet” elaborates on the implications of the Ghost’s visit for the hero: “The ghost’s
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