Hamlet is not a hero

Published: 2021-07-12 01:20:04
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Category: Hamlet

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Most analysts say that the main character, Hamlet, as portrayed in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” is a tragic hero. However, this notion is not an accurate representation of the character as shown in this book. Hamlet is a cruel, evil man who does not deserve to be dubbed a hero. A tragic hero is one who retains their good character despite facing difficult challenges. Hamlet, on the other hand, fails to express goodness throughout the play. He gave in to his dark side and became a man full of hate and vengeance. Even though he retains some good character, the goodness in him is shadowed by bad things such that he remains inherently evil. This essay will analyze the character of Hamlet and provide proof that he is not a hero.
As the play begins, Hamlet is mourning the death of his father. He is with his friends Horatio, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern as well as his girlfriend, Ophelia. As a prince and next in line to the throne, he conducts himself with nobleness and grace. He appears kind and full of respect and admiration for his friends. Further, he is well educated and speaks various languages fluently. Even though he suspects Claudius as the suspects in his father’s death, he is cautious not to accuse him falsely and without evidence (Felperin, 53). However, he is soon corrupted by those around him such that he throws caution to the wind and sinks into depression. This is mainly driven by Claudius’ hasty marriage to his mother Gertrude and thus taking the throne from him. Hamlet is disparate and considers taking his own life.
Further, Hamlet is corrupted by the ghost of his father which advised him to kill Claudius. The ghost claims that Claudius poisoned Hamlet’s father and had kept on engaging in immoral acts that are harmful to Hamlet’s family. after this encounter with the ghost, Hamlet became bitter and vengeful (Greenblatt 65). Things are made worse by Hamlet’s friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who betrays him at the behest of Claudius. They are sent out to spy on Hamlet, and they do so without consideration of the friendship that had existed between them. Hamlet realizes that his best friends are conspiring with his enemy. He regresses to self-pity and does not trust anyone again.
A hero should be able to remain good despite the experiences he/she suffers. Hamlet, on the other hand, is so corrupted by the action of those around him that he becomes a murder. He stabs Polonius to death with a knife. He is however not remorseful and appears to enjoy the rush he feels from killing. Further, Hamlet’s demeanor towards his own mother changes after the marriage to Claudius. Even though his mother keeps on living him, he is so filled up with hate that he cannot return the favor (Lear, 23) Hamlet refuse to take heed of the advice from his friend Horatio. He engages in a sword fight with Laertes despite the advice from his reasonable friend. He states that his pride is too important and thus cannot let a Laertes win, even if it means losing his own life.
Hamlet is therefore not a hero. Even though at the beginning of the play he appears to be good, he is corrupted by the happenings around him so much that he becomes a villain instead. The measure of the behavior is the sum total of a person’s actions. In the play, Hamlet gives in to the evil around him so that he no longer sees the goodness in other people. Though he had the potential to be good, he allows himself to be corrupted by evil.

Felperin, Howard. Shakespearean representation: Mimesis and modernity in Elizabethan tragedy. Princeton University Press, 2015.
Greenblatt, Stephen, and Walter Cohen, eds. The Norton Shakespeare: Third International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company, 2015.
Lear, King. “By William Shakespeare.” Dir. Kevin Bennett. Honest Fishmongers Equity Co-op. Havana Theatre, Vancouver, BC. Feb (2013).

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