Antiheroism In Hamlet (751 words) Essay

Antiheroism In HamletAntiheroism In Hamlet
Antiheroism has always been an interesting
aspect of a character that authors have chosen to illustrate. In literature,
there hasbeen countless antiheroic characters, from Randle McMurphy in
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Allie Fox in TheMosquito Coast, to
others as famous as Robin Hood and … By literary definition, an antihero
is the “hero” of the play or novel, buthas negative attributes which separate
him or her from the classic hero such as Superman. Such negative aspects
may include aviolent nature, use of coarse language, or self serving interests
which may inadvertently depict the protagonist as a hero since theresult
of serving those interests may be the betterment of society or an environment.

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, theprotagonist, Hamlet, is depicted as
an antihero. One main factor which gives Hamlet such a label is that he
draws sympathy, aswell as admiration, from the reader since Hamlet feels
the pain of losing his father along with the burden and obstacles in avenginghis
murder.Act four places a special emphasis on Hamlet’s intelligence. In
scene two, Hamlet is very insolent and rude towards Rosencrantzand Guildenstern
with such phrases as,That I can keep your counsel and not, mine own. Beside,
to bedemanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by the son of
aking? (IV, ii, 12-14) The reference to the sponge reflects the fact that
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are easily ordered by the kingand do not have
minds of their own. Hamlet does not like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern since
they are servants of the Claudius,Hamlet’s mortal enemy. The reader does
not like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern either which causes the reader to
side withHamlet.

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Another incident of Hamlet’s high intelligence
is shown when he Hamlet tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,I am glad of
it: a knavish sleeps in a foolish ear. (IV, ii,24-25) This statement leaves
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern more or less confused. Hamlet is clearly more
clever than the two ofthem combined and is able to toy with them.Hamlet
has an excellent command of the language and because of it, can use wordsto
the point that those around him will not understand and may label him as
crazy.Hamlet shows another example of his cleverness, this time towards
Claudius, when he says,I see a cherub that sees them. But, come; for England!
Farewell,dear mother. (IV, iii, 49-50) The cherub, or the angel, gives
Hamlet a sense of superiority over Claudius. Having an angel at one’sside
would be a definite sign of power, which is exactly what Hamlet tries to
maintain over Claudius in their constant powerstruggle. Just when Claudius
thinks he controls Hamlet, it is really Hamlet who has the upper hand over

There are very strong philosophical references
made by Hamlet in this act regarding life and death. Hamlet tells Claudius,
Your worm is youronly emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat
us, and we fatourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar
is butvariable service, two dishes, but to one table: that’s the end. (IV,iii,
21-26) This statement id a reference to the food chain, and in turn, a
reflection on the meaning of life. It illustrates the equalityof men in
that whether one is born to be a king or a beggar, when one dies, we are
all equal. Worms and maggots do not treatanybody differently once one is
dead and buried.

The final scene draws the greatest sympathy
towards Hamlet even though he is not even in the scene. The forces of Claudius
andLaertes have combined against Hamlet. Claudius states,To an exploit
now ripe in my device, Under the which he shall notchoose but fall, And
for his death no wind of blame shall breathe; Buteven his mother shall
unchange the practice, And call it accident.(IV, vii, 65-69) Claudius is
willing to undertake any measures necessary to eliminate Hamlet, to the
point that it does not matterwhether or not it hurts Gertrude in any way.

This scene depicts Hamlet as the victim, much like two bullies picking
on a smallerchild in school, since the king, with the aid of Laertes, is
out to kill Hamlet, this time with a passion. Much like a politicalrevolutionary,
Hamlet has the system against him and is facing death because of his loyalty
and honour towards his father.

The fact that Hamlet’s life is not indeed
in jeopardy attributes to his “hero” status. In addition, his only fault
is the desire to avengehis father’s murder, an act considered completely
honourable by the reader. However, Hamlet’s negative attributes include
hisrudeness towards others, including the fair Ophelia, and a violent nature
as shown when he kills Polonius, albeit accidently, andshows no remorse,
causing a reclassification from the classic hero, to the more appropriate
label of antihero.


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