Comparison of Hamlet and Macbeth Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1605 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology

¶ … Hamlet and Macbeth

Hamlet vs. Macbeth

Shakespeare's plays "Hamlet" and "Macbeth" are both tragedies and are two of the most frequently played theatrical productions in all of history. The protagonists in the two plays are tragic heroes, considering the events that they undergo and the fact that they largely dominate other characters. In spite of the fact that Macbeth is initially similar to Hamlet when considering his determination to fight for his king, he gradually loses control over his moral powers and falls victim to his greed. There are many themes, motifs, and symbols present in both plays, with the two main characters experiencing somewhat similar events. The principal exception is represented by the way that each of the two protagonists dies. Supernatural forces are present at essential moments in both plays and can actually be considered to be responsible for the way that the texts progress.

The two plays are both named after the central characters in each one of them and put across concepts that are characteristic to Shakespearean tragedies. The fact that the protagonists suffer throughout the plays and eventually die further contributes to the belief that Shakespeare did not hesitate to introduce some of his distinctive ideas in "Hamlet" and in "Macbeth." Shakespeare's works were most certainly diversified, but in spite of the fact that he used unique concepts for every one of his plays, the fact that he lived during the Elizabethan era reflected in his writings.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Comparison of Hamlet and Macbeth Assignment

Shakespeare uses paranormal concepts with the purpose of warning certain characters regarding their future, protecting them, or with the intention of predicting their future. Supernatural traits can be observed from the very first scenes in both plays as Prince Hamlet meets and talks with the deceased King regarding the latter's determination to get revenge while Macbeth and Banquo come across the three witches that relate to the main character's future. In spite of the fact that supernatural forces provide both Hamlet and Macbeth with news that is beneficial for them, the two characters do not hesitate to express their suspicion in regard to the paranormal and are uncertain in regard to the level of trust that they should employ in their relationship with it. It is difficult for both characters to understand whether they have been presented with the forces of good or with the forces of evil. "The spirit, that I have seen, / May be the devil: and the devil hath power / T' assume a pleasing shape" (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2). Even with that, matters become clearer as paranormal forces in "Hamlet" relate to something that has already happened while the witches in Macbeth relate to the Thane's future. This makes it possible for the two to interpret the meaning of these events on their own. Their encounter with the supernatural renders both Macbeth and Hamlet confused regarding their perspectives and concerning what the best action that they should do is.

Supernatural elements are not just meant to impress characters as they are also meant to intrigue audiences and captivate readers with the purpose of getting them to be focused on plays. Heroes who are typically approached by supernatural characters are likely to have a fatal flaw that is exploited and that ultimately leads to their demise. It seems that Shakespeare followed a general pattern in writing "Hamlet" and "Macbeth," given that the action in both plays evolves in a similar manner.

Both plays start in a somber note, with "Hamlet" starting on a cold night during which two sentinels see a ghost and "Macbeth" starting with the three witching devising their plan to approach Macbeth. Shakespeare has character describe the general air that the characters are dealing with at the time when paranormal activities occur: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (Marcellus, Act 1, Scene 4), "So foul and fair a day I have not seen" (Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3). These environments are meant to prepare audiences and readers for events that are to come. Despite that supernatural forces in both tragedies prove to be honest, they are responsible for involving the two characters in a chain of events that eventually leads to their death.

Macbeth initially appears to be a straightforward individual who does not turn back from risking his life for his leader. However, he slowly but surely comes to abandon his values as a consequence of his determination to become king as a result of his encounter with the three witches. These supernatural forces can thus be considered responsible for altering Macbeth's thinking. It is very probable that Macbeth would have continued to live a moral life if he was not presented with the prospect of becoming the ruler of Scotland. Shakespeare wanted the play to address the topic of vulnerability, as he highlighted the fact that even the best can fall victim to material values.

Hamlet seems to be determined to fight for the well-being of the kingdom, but his general attitude toward his king is shattered at the time when he comes across the ghost of his father. This made it difficult for him to concentrate on trying to continue his previous activities and influenced him in developing an obsession with regard to revenging his father. If Hamlet were to remain unaware of Claudius' treachery, he would not have provoked the death of so many individuals. The fact that (similar to Macbeth) he allowed his thinking to be altered by the supernatural is largely the main reason for which the play is a tragedy. Supernatural forces persuade both Hamlet and Macbeth in yielding to their ability to put across ethical thinking and have them interested in murdering their kings. Both characters succeed in doing so, but eventually die as a result of embarking in such a campaign.

Hamlet and Macbeth both have secondary characters that want to protect them from being influenced by supernatural forces. At the time when they encounter the witches, Banquo insists that they should "speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear / Your favors nor your hate" (Banquo, Act 1, Scene 3). Similarly, Horatio puts across his perspective in regard to Hamlet's decision to follow the ghost: "Be rul'd: You shall not go (Horatio, Act 1, Scene 4). Horatio is actually determined to maintain his thinking from the very first time when he hears about the ghost, as he does not even want to listen to Marcellus' story regarding the spirit.

One of the main differences between the two plays is represented by the rapidity with which the protagonists act consequent to their encounter with supernatural forces. While Macbeth does not hesitate to prepare for being a king at the time when he learns that the first part of the prophecy came true, Hamlet is still uncertain regarding what he should do when he becomes certain that Claudius is actually responsible for the death of his father. Macbeth's actions are to a certain degree predictable because it seems that there would be no reason for him to act differently. In contrast, Hamlet constantly postpones the final moment of the play through putting across his confusion. "Macbeth" is dominated by the main character's determination and "Hamlet" contains a great deal of situations presenting the central character as he has trouble realizing how he has to act. One of the best words describing Hamlet's personality would have to be indecisiveness. He is never sure regarding the ghost's existence: "It is a damned ghost that we have seen, / And my imaginations are as foul / As Vulcan's stithy" (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2).

Hamlet meets the ghost on several occasions and one can almost claim that it develops a relationship with the character. In contrast, Macbeth's only relationship with supernatural forces is represented by the moments when he meets… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Comparison of Hamlet and Macbeth.  (2011, November 10).  Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

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"Comparison of Hamlet and Macbeth."  10 November 2011.  Web.  25 September 2020. <>.

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"Comparison of Hamlet and Macbeth."  November 10, 2011.  Accessed September 25, 2020.