Hamlet is the first Shakespeare’s tragedy we studied. Hamlet is the son of the King of Denmark.
His father has been dead for two months and his mother, Queen Gertrude, has married her brother-in-law, Claudius. Some sentries and Horatio, a friend of Hamlet, have already seen the ghost at castle Elsinore. Hamlet and Horatio arrange a night meeting to see if the ghost will appear. Fortunately, the ghost of the King of Denmark appears to Hamlet and he says he was murdered by his brother Claudius, who poured some poison in his ears. The ghost asks Hamlet to avenge him. Hamlet is stunned. The day after, he pretends to be mad so that he can plan his revenge more easily. The king’s counsellor, whose name is Polonius, thinks that Hamlet is mad because of Hamlet’s love for his daughter Ophelia.
Hamlet wants to verify whether Claudius is culprit. So, he decides to arrange a troupe of actors to perform The Murder of Gonzago, a play whose story is very similar to the real murder of the king. As a matter of fact, Claudius goes out during the play. Now, Hamlet wants to persuade his mother to divorce Claudius. He uses a very strong and arrogant language, for example he says that Gertrude is just driven by lust:
“In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty.”
In her bedroom there are two portraits, one represents the King and the other represents Claudius. Furthermore, Hamlet points out that Claudius is a villain and a cutpurse.
“Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow;
Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury”
We can notice in these two small lines that Shakespeare describes a revolutionary relationship between the mother and her son. Indeed, in the past children used to have profound respect for their parents.
Then the ghost says to Hamlet not to continue reprimanding his mother. Thus, Hamlet suddenly mentions:
“How is it with you, lady?
Do you imagine what kind of effect it creates? It is a way to make the audience laugh, otherwise the tragedy would be very boring. However, Shakespeare does not want to make a usual tragedy, he wants to make people reflect upon the plot and the personality of the characters.
To be, or not to be: that is the question
Shakespeare presents Hamlet as a round character. He is a reflective man, probably he thinks too much. Hamlet reflect on the meaning of life. Life is full of injustice, sadness and sorrow.
Hamlet perform his brilliant skills of philosophy, he argues for life and for death. It is a monologue where the protagonist change very quickly his ideas, it seems he is constantly contradicting himself.
I think that his personality is like a violin. The violin is an extraordinary instrument which can be used singularly and despite its dimensions it has a strong sound. Moreover, it allows to modify the rhythm in a very short period of time.
I must confess that I was not interested in Hamlet at first. But I have started to appreciate his way of thinking and above all the way Shakespeare writes.