Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hamlet is a self-obsessed Essay Example for Free

Hamlet is a self-obsessed Essay Throughout the course of the play, the character of Hamlet undergoes major upheaval, so a transition in his psyche is to be expected. One interpretation behind the reason for this transition is the one stated in the title (i. e. that he is a self-obsessed, miserable typical teenager); another may be that he is simply the victim of exceptional circumstances (namely his fathers death and his mothers marriage to his uncle) either way, it is clear that Hamlet is acting under severe emotional stress during the play. That Hamlet is a very obsessive young man is easy enough to tell the list of things he obsesses about is extensive: the afterlife, his fathers murder, his new misogynistic feelings, suicide and general worldly dissatisfaction, to list the main bulk of his obsessions. Some of his soliloquies (which are the passages where Shakespeare allows Hamlet to reveal his complete emotions to the audience) are testament to this obsession, especially concerning suicide (O that this too too solid flesh would melt, To be or not to be). This self-obsession may be thought of as somewhat surprising when it is noted that Hamlet is meant to be heir to the Dane throne, as it portrays Hamlet as someone in a role of great social responsibility who only has the scope to think about his personal problems. Hamlet is by now old enough to attend university (although his age is unspecified), showing that he has reached an age where he can think independently and fully comprehend his duty to society, adding to the sense that he is being selfish in that he does not think of the well-being of his country, despite the numerous references to problems in Denmark (Something is rotten in the state of Denmark). It is this personal fixation and irresponsibility on Hamlets part that ends up bringing the ultimately Danish monarchy into ruin, with Fortinbras of Norway ascending to the throne. The claim that Hamlet is also miserable is also a valid one: the audience usually finds Hamlet in a highly melancholic state of mind (whether it is mere sullen impetuousness or full-blown suicidal depression). Hamlet seems dissatisfied with everything: his family, his nation, the world, his very existence. Part of the reason for this depressed nature is Hamlets tendency to philosophise and contemplate complex aspects of existence, such as the afterlife, which contrasts with the straight-forward action men that surround him, and is more typical of the modern moody teenager. For all of these reasons, it can be argued that Hamlet is indeed a self-obsessed, miserable typical teenager. However, a different interpretation of Hamlet is that he is the victim of exceptionally harrowing circumstances. His age is indeterminate, although the reader is sure that he is a young man. Already with the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders, his father dies, only for his mother to wed with wicked speed to his fathers brother: such a combination in such a short space of time for one as young as Hamlet is bound to have a detrimental effect on his outlook. Add to this the plainly insensitive handling of this shocking series of events by Claudius which serves only to exacerbate Hamlets sorrow and confusion (but to persever/ In obstinate condolement is a course/ Of impious stubbornness, tis unmanly grief,) and it becomes evident that Hamlet cannot be compared to a moody teenager, because the events that usually make teenagers stroppy cannot be compared in any way to the mental anguish that Hamlet is probably suffering. Such a comparison would be callous and thoughtless. Hamlets apparent descent into a self-crafted madness is indicative of the huge pressure placed upon him by the ghost of his father, who seems only interested in revenge rather than helping his son (Remember me. ). This emphasises the feeling that Hamlet is alone, with no-one truly understanding his situation (with the possible exception of Horatio). Teenagers nowadays have a vast array of methods in which they can seek help (i. e. relatives, hotlines, the police), again stressing the vast chasm between the situation of a moody teenager and the agonising plight which Hamlet finds himself in. The sheer exceptional scale of tragedy that occurs during the play and the profound effect they have on Hamlet are enough to ensure that he should not be compared to a moody teenager: to do so would be highly inconsiderate. Hence the interpretation that Hamlet is self-obsessed is a highly unfair one, as the world he knew previously has been shattered, and the one he finds himself in now is so intolerable to him that he ponders suicide, meaning that the affairs of Denmark do not find such a high priority in his mind because his personal life is in disarray. Even through the catastrophes in the play, as Hamlet lies on the ground dying, he names Fortinbras as the next ruler of Denmark this shows that, after he has resolved all of his issues, he starts to once again think of his nation, even as he is dying; the claim that he is miserable is a fair one, but he is justifiably miserable. He is not miserable because his parents will not let him attend a party: he is miserable because his father is dead and his mother has begun an incestuous relationship with his uncle. This is a legitimate reason for misery, and so Hamlet should be treated with a fitting level of compassion at least certainly not compared to typical teenagers. It is for the reasons above that the statement Hamlet is a self-obsessed, miserable typical teenager does not resonate well with the reader: the very fact that he is able to be sullen and even jocular initially (A little more than kin, and less than kind. Not so much, my lord, I am too much in the son. ) is a testament to his strong personality his true feelings are revealed in the following soliloquy. The character of Hamlet is far more complex than a comparatively simple teenager; the circumstances far more tragic; the pressure upon him far greater.

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