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Hamlet Essay


Hamlet is among the big four of Shakespearean tragedies along with King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello. It was written about four hundred years ago yet it is so relevant even in 21st centuries. It has been translated into film, its appeals to almost every culture in this world is evidence of the genius of Shakespeare. The present essay intends to answer some of the fundamental issues in the drama. First, the nature of conflict that inspire Hamlet to build his worldview, to see whether it’s external or internal or both? Second, to consider the question regarding the form of the paly as a tragedy or revenge? Third, the role of Ophelia and the nature of her relationship with Hamlet. Fourth and final, the comparative look at Hamlet and Horatio.

Conflict is the essence of drama and the tragedy of Hamlet is a rich representation of the dependence of one conflict with the other. Inertia, insanity, revenge and his obsession with afterlife are the internal conflicts that hamlet struggles with, and these conflicts were influenced by the external events such as the death of his father, the marriage of his mother and the betrayal of Ophelia. The central internal conflict is to avenge his father’s death, the struggle to avenge creates more internal conflicts as mentioned above, and hence, the action is delayed due to the physical restraints he encounters as he states:

And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sickled o’er with the pale cast of thought.  (III, I, 83 – 84)

On the surface Hamlet is a tragedy of revenge, Shakespeare used the form of tragedy of revenge to explore one the most challenging questions regarding human existence. The moment when Hamlet was informed that his father is murdered by his uncle, ‘yea, from the table of my memory/ I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records/…. And thy commandment all alone shall live/Within the book and volume of my brain, (III, I, 83 – 84).By this time he should have killed his uncle but instead he delayed the action and under the course of this delay he contemplated the existential questions that surround human life and the redundancy of his actions.

After his meeting with the ghost and the marriage of his mother with his uncle, Hamlet faces a complexity of emotions regarding women in general and Ophelia in particular. Throughout the play he confesses his love for Ophelia ‘and I did love her’ and the graveyard scene does depict his true emotions concerning Ophelia. The character of Ophelia is a significant character if we want to know about Hamlet’s past, throughout the play Hamlet claims his love for Ophelia in past tense ‘I did love her’ and ‘I loved Ophelia’, hence, one can argue that he loved Ophelia but after the death of his father he lost his faith in women as he says to Ophelia ‘God has given you one face and you have made another one’.

The emotional trajectory of Hamlet’s character towards other character is evident as we have seen the complexity of his emotions regarding Ophelia, nevertheless, Horatio is character with whom Hamlet’s love and trust was never changed. Hamlet and Horatio were school fellows and they had spent a lot time together and by Hamlet’s conversation with him at the beginning of the play we know that Horatio is a student of philosophy like Hamlet he is empiricist. But unlike Hamlet, Horatio didn’t suffer the death of his father and marriage of his mother with his uncle. Nevertheless, he was a loyal friend and like Hamlet willing to die for his cause.


The complexities of Hamlet’s character and the inability of decision for action make Hamlet one of the greatest character in Western Literature. His varying emotions and his philosophical contemplations are telling relevant even today. One can empathize with his character due to the timelessness of his ideas.



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