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Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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Hamlet (1601), by William Shakespeare, is about how the ideologies associated with the Renaissance Humanist movement, although commendable, cannot stand up against a social fabric so intrinsically linked with violence and power: Hamlet the character is used to convey this idea. Hamlet is the antithesis of the thinking man: deeply philosophical, educated, articulate, and thoughtful. He finds himself in a situation that presents him an obvious moral dilemma, to avenge his father's murder he must commit the same treacherous act. A man dominated by action would not hesitate to seek revenge, but Hamlet does, creating the dominant complication of the play's entirety. Although many often interrupt the social fabric he finds himself in, one dominated by violence and action, to represent feudal beliefs and morals, I in fact believe it merely represents reality. This is due to the fact that the idea of murder and revenge are not exclusive to backward social beliefs but are merely impulsive humanistic thoughts and actions. The death of Hamlet at the end of the play, as well as the fact that it is Fortinbras, evidently a man of action, who ends the play as the new King only goes to reassert the idea that the Renaissance Humanist can not thrive in a world dominated by violence. Thus, although it seems apparent that Shakespeare endorses the ideals associated with Renaissance Humanism, he has grave doubts over the practicality of its ideals. Hamlet is the antithesis of the tragic hero, controlled by his own imaginings forced upon him by the circumstances in which are so feverishly thrust upon him. His contradictions of character are not used to confuse the reader, but merely present the confusion and histrionic irrationality that so dominates the judgements controlling Hamlet. His cold rejection of Orphelia highlights this irrationality of which dominates the first four acts of the play.

The causes for the histrionic irrationality are quite clear-cut. He is grieving the loss of his father, while also reacting to the insensitive response by his mother Gertrude, in marrying his uncle a month after this death. When Hamlet becomes aware of the murderous end to his father, the undoubtedly introspective nature of Hamlet's character further clouds his judgement as he grapples with the proposition of seeking revenge by committing the same crime in which he is seeking revenge for.

The character of Hamlet is, in my opinion, the most interesting and significant character Shakespeare created, especially in regards to the development of the philosophy of existentialism and its depiction in literature. Although the philosophy of Renaissance humanism was prominent at the time, as well as being a huge influence on Hamlet as a character, his character goes one step further, by not only grappling with the idea of self-determination and the idea of fate, but also questioning the overall point of life, specifically articulated when he contemplates



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