Hamlet's Subverted Heroic Journey William Shakespeare Essay

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Hamlet's Subverted Heroic Journey

William Shakespeare's Hamlet provides us with the ultimate recipe of what not to do when we are confronted with difficult circumstances. Hamlet was a man that could have been a great hero but instead destroyed his chances through his own failures. He cannot accept reality when it comes to his mother's remarriage and his melancholy forces him into a pit of despair that affects literally every aspect of his being. Hamlet only creates a worse situation for himself when he fails to act upon what he knows to b the truth. When he finally decides to be brave, he fails again. Killing Polonius only drives him into a further pit of instability from which he cannot save himself. Hamlet simply cannot step out of the emotional mire long enough to see what is happening around him and, as a result, ventures off the valiant course never to see any reward that awaits a noble and cherished hero.

Hamlet's first deviates from the traditional heroic path when he refuses to deal with his sense of loss in a healthy manner. Stricken with shock and burdened with grief, Hamlet begins to fall apart in the first scenes of the play. He does not know how to handle Gertrude marrying so quickly after his father's death and his anger and contempt over this begins to eat away at his core. He loses hope in life and adopts a negative attitude toward everything in the universe. He begins to doubt the how the universe operates and wishes his "sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew" (I.ii.133-4). Hamlet's negativity does not help him when he encounters the ghost. In fact, the ghost is responsible for most of the anxiety Hamlet feels because he keeps reminding Hamlet of what it is he must do. The ghost creates an inner conflict that Hamlet cannot reconcile because Hamlet sincerely believes that murder is a sin and this ghost, claiming to be his father, is telling him to commit murder. The ghost, then, becomes diabolical and a "goblin damned" (I.iv.44) in Hamlet's mind. To demonstrate hamlet's confusion, just a few minutes after calling the ghost damned he refers to him as "King, father, Royal Dane" (I.iv.50). Here we see how Hamlet is confused and this sate of mind will persist until the end of the play. William Hazlitt observes, "The character of Hamlet stands quite by itself. It is not a character marked by strength of will or even of passion, but by refinement of thought and sentiment. Hamlet is as little of the hero as a man can well be" (Hazlitt). Hamlet is renown for his uncertainty and his inability to act and there is good reason for that.

Hamlet continues to deviate from the heroic journey when he recognizes the truth and does nothing about it. Hamlet's suspicions are confirmed at the performance of the Mousetrap play and yet, Hamlet fails to act. This only makes Hamlet disappointed in himself, an emotional that leads to more doubt and negativity. He refers to himself a "dull and muddy-mettled rascal... unpregnant of my cause,/and I can say nothing" (II.ii.594-6). He considers his manhood and proclaims that he is a "pigeon-livered and lack gall" (II.ii.604) and he ponders the authenticity of the ghost again, thinking:

The spirit I have seen may be a devil, and the devil hath power

T' assume a pleasing shape; yeah, and perhaps, out of my weakness and out of my melancholy

As he is very potent with such spirits

Abuses me… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Hamlet's Subverted Heroic Journey William Shakespeare.  (2008, December 14).  Retrieved December 12, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/hamlet-subverted-heroic-journey-william/55440

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"Hamlet's Subverted Heroic Journey William Shakespeare."  Essaytown.com.  December 14, 2008.  Accessed December 12, 2019.