Term Paper: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Pages: 4 (1469 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] It is easy to see why they think Hamlet has gone beyond reason, for his actions are frightening and seem unbalanced. He murders Ophelia's father by accident, causing her suicide, he is seeing dead people, and he speaks in a famous soliloquy to the skull of Yorick, his father's jester.

Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were won't to set the table on a roar? (Shakespeare 2091).

Certainly, Hamlet gives many indications to those around him that he is mad. This may be the only way they have of rationalizing his behavior. However, it is quite clear that Hamlet is not mad; he is simply a victim of circumstance and a victim of his own emotions. He is not in control of his life, his emotions are controlling him, and one of the most damning emotions is vengeance and revenge against those who murdered his father.

One of Hamlet's deepest emotions is his undying need for vengeance when he discovers his father was murdered. There is one problem with vengeance. It must be savored for it to be sweet, and Hamlet is not there at the end to savor his vengeance. In addition, revenge is usually self-destructive, because if someone actually finds their foe and acts out their revenge, they have little left to live for. Hamlet is the embodiment of this, for his lust for revenge consumes him, and there is little else for him to do in his life but self-destruct as he seeks revenge for the murder of his father. Revenge is a destructive emotion, and Hamlet might recognize this, but he is powerless at the hands of this powerful emotion. Hamlet's biggest problem throughout the play is that he does not understand himself well enough to overpower his emotions. He is a man searching for himself as much as revenge, and because he does not understand himself, he cannot control himself and his emotional reactions to such emotional issues. Shakespeare shows that revenge is nearly always destructive and evil, and even if it seems reasonable, it is still harmful and promotes grief and misery. Hamlet does not understand that his life would have been much better if he had somehow plotted to win the crown away from his uncle in some lawful and plausible way, rather than scheming to murder him and take revenge for his father. Ruling his country as a respected and beloved ruler would have been much better retribution in the end, and it would have been more helpful and healthy, too. However, even this does not make Hamlet mad, it makes him a depressed person at the mercy of his emotions, rather than a forceful and commanding leader. He is the consummate tragic hero not because his life ends tragically, but because he could not decipher how to make his life productive while still avenging the death of his father.

In conclusion, Hamlet is not insane, but Shakespeare paints him that way to heighten the drama and action of the play. Hamlet is the consummate tragic hero because he exhibits tragic flaws that mar his character and color his vision, ultimately ending in his death, and the death of almost everyone around him. He is a sympathetic character, and this makes him even more tragic, because the audience can identify with his flaws and his emotions. Unfortunately, Hamlet is not the master of his emotions, he is at their mercy, and they lead him down the wrong and unyielding path. Jealousy and vengeance play a huge part in Hamlet's outlook throughout the play, and they lead him ultimately to despair and death. Hamlet is not mad; he is emotional and unable to handle his reactions to difficult situations. He is tragic and flawed, but he is sane, as sane as anyone who is not the master of his own fate.


Shakespeare, William. "Hamlet." Literature, Reading, Reacting, Writing, 5th Edition, ed. Kirszner,… [END OF PREVIEW]

Hamlet Renaissance Ideals in Shakespeare Term Paper

Hamlet and Dr. Faustus Term Paper

Shakespeare Hamlet Essay

Hamlet Ghost Research Paper

Hamlet Othello Term Paper

View 46 other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  (2004, April 6).  Retrieved August 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/hamlet-william-shakespeare-specifically/3770248

MLA Format

"Hamlet by William Shakespeare."  6 April 2004.  Web.  22 August 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/hamlet-william-shakespeare-specifically/3770248>.

Chicago Format

"Hamlet by William Shakespeare."  Essaytown.com.  April 6, 2004.  Accessed August 22, 2019.