Read this article to know about the character of King Hamlet in the drama Hamlet written by William Shakespeare.
Also read: Characteristics of Elizabethan Age
Character of King Hamlet
“Four hundred years after his creation, Hamlet still the confident and friend of sad and thoughtful soul in every land.”…______
This remark is made about the character of Hamlet, a great creation and this is equally applicable to the great creator William Shakespeare himself. Hamlet fascinates the readers even for today. Shakespeare has invested in that personality a complexity which is beyond analysis.
The character Hamlet raises several problems.Indeed, its complexity is a tribute to its author’s unrivalled imagination power.
Hamlet in particular has a lot of most famous things in it: it is the Shakespeare’s most famous character and it contains Shakespearean hero’s most famous line:
“To be or not to be…”
Hamlet is such a complex character that playing him in the action equivalent of going to the Olympics. Hamlet is just might the beginning of a new kind of literature that focuses on the struggles and conflicts between individual, rather on the external conflicts between individuals.
And we can say that Hamlet is just might be western literature’s first modern man or modern teenage.
The character is a mysterious combination of a series of literary sources and the phenomenal genius of the playwright.
Orestes in Greek Tragedy is probably his ultimately progenitor, not Oedipus, as some critics have suggested.
Hamlet is a mixture of tenderness and violence, a scholar, lover, friends , philosopher, satirist and deadly enemy. He is longer than life.
Late 17th century Restoration critics saw Hamlet as primitive and disapproval of its lack of unity and decorum. In 18th century, when critics regarded Hamlet as a hero-a pure, brilliant young man thrust into unfortunate circumstances.
Late 18th century did critics and performers begins to view Hamlet as a confusing and inconsistent.
By the 19th Romantic critics valued Hamlet for its internal, individual conflict reflecting the contemporary emphasis on internal struggles and inner character.
Later 20th critics started to focus on Hamlet delay as a character trait, rather than a plot device.
But there is one of the biggest question the critics are really interested in , why does Hamlet delay so long in carrying out his revenge. Reason may have, Hamlet does not believe the ghost and Hamlet has some scruples.
Hamlet is often perceived as philosophical character, Expounding ideas that are now described as relativist, existentialist and skeptical.
For example, he expresses a subjective ideas when he says to Rosecrans;
“ There is nothing either good or bad But thinking makes it so.”
In his openness to embrace the ghost’s message , Hamlet assuages Horatio ‘s wonderment with the analytical assertion ;
“ There is more things in Heaven and Earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”
We aptly sums up with T.S.Eliot view on Hamlet character in his critical essay “Hamlet and His problem” as he states;
“We find Shakespeare’s Hamlet not in the action not in any quotation that we might select, so much as in an unmistakable tone.”
Also read: Summary of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
Also read: Summary of Macbeth by William Shakespeare