Hamlet As Victim Essay

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a complex story of revenge, the lack of love, and the”madness” of Hamlet. Hamlet is a victim of his own humanity. The decisions
he must make, make him human, and his indecisiveness makes him a man. His
father’s ghost asks Hamlet to avenge his death, and Hamlet’s procrastination
to do so adds to his humanity. “What we have in Hamlet is the exploration and
implicit criticism of a particular state of mind or consciousness. In Hamlet,
Shakespeare uses a series of encounters to reveal the complex state of the human
mind, made up of reason, emotion, and attitude towards the self, to allow the
reader to make a judgment or form an opinion about fundamental aspects of human
life” (L.C. Knight, 192). Hamlet had many opportunities to kill Claudius but
he decided not to and rested the justification on his morals. Hamlet tries to
logically think of a way to rid the world of the treacherous King, and his
logic, and intelligence were his downfall. Like any tragic hero these were his
tragic flaws. “Hamlet’s primary dilemma is that of every human being…” (Cahn
69). Hamlet is presented by Shakespeare as the ideal man. He is described by
Ophelia in Act 3 Scene 1 lines 163-167 “O, what a noble mind is here
o’erthrown! The courtier’s, soldiers, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword, (Th’
expectancy) and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mold of
form…”. Hamlet is what every man should be and as such an extreme , he is
also presented with an extreme situation. “He is a superman among men” (G.W.

Knight 38). Hamlet is a very smart individual, and he uses his intelligence to
try to solve the mystery of how to expose his uncle, and prove what the ghost
said. In trying to prove Claudius’s guilt, Hamlet aroused suspicion. His uncle
tried to get rid of Hamlet by sending him to England on a “diplomatic”
visit, which was really a plea by Claudius for the King of England to execute
Hamlet. Hamlet figured this out, and came back to Denmark, only after sending
his escorts to their death, “For in the war of logic it will be found that he
(Hamlet) has all the guns” (G.W. Knight 39). Hamlet is the only character that
is true to himself, his beliefs, and his principles. This is why he
procrastinates, it not his nature to kill, and he feels that if he does murder
Claudius he will be no better than Claudius. “The play dramatizes the
perpetual struggle to which all civilization that is genuine is doomed”
(Alexander 184). His principles make him human, and as such he must suffer what
all humanity suffers from, a conscience. This led to his ultimate, yet
victorious end. Hamlet was a respected and loved man. Fortinbras said “For he
was likely…To have proved most royal.” Hamlet’s humanity brought Hamlet to
his tragic death. Hamlet’s humanity is also what helped make Hamlet a
masterpiece, T.S. Elliot I believe said it best when he proclaimed Hamlet to be
the “Mona Lisa of literature”.

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Alexander, Peter Hamlet, Father and Son. The Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1955.

pp.183-185 Cahn, Victor L. Shakespeare The Playwright: A Companion to the
Complete Tragedies, Histories and Romances. Greenwood Press, New York 1991
Knight, G.W. “The Embassy of Death” in The Wheel of Fire Methuen ~r Co.,
Ltd. London 1954. Knight, L.C. Some Shakespeare Themes & An Approach to
Hamlet. Stanford University Press, San Fransisco 1966 Elliot, T.S. The Sacred
Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. 1922 Shakespeare, William Hamlet
Washington Square Press, New York 1922


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