Q. 2. Write in your own words a character sketch of Hamlet.
Ans – Hamlet possesses a philosophical nature and intellectual depth. His soliloquies show him to be a man of a deeply reflective and meditative nature. He meditates deeply on his mother’s remarriage with a villain. Then he reflects on the Ghost’s revelations. Then he broods upon his delay in carrying out the Ghost’s directions. He devises a plan to catch the conscience of the King and the Queen through the inner play.
Some of his thoughts express universal appeal. Then he meditates upon the consequences of murdering Claudius during prayers. Thus his soliloquies reveal his excessive speculation and reason for delaying his revenge. They also show Hamlet’s poetic eloquence and linguistic style and excellence. He is a scholar, philosopher, and poet.
Hamlet is a sensitive and idealistic young man. He labels his mother’s incestuous behavior as bestial and supposes mankind to be only a little lower than angels. He is involved in general guilt by killing Polonius, driving Ophelia mad, and sending his schoolfellow to death. These activities only dirtied him. The Ghost’s injunction indirectly soiled him. Hamlet is an expert in using puns and other forms of wordplay.
Hamlet has a self-introspective nature. He castigates himself in very strong words calling himself an ‘ass’ and a
‘scallion’ (menial servant). He does not show a penetrating insight in judging Ophelia as in judging other characters.
He forms sound opinions about his uncle, his mother, and Polonius. He reads through the hypocrisy displayed by
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instantly.
Hamlet possesses a rare wit. He wields the weapons of irony and sarcasm with deadly effect. His retorts are bitter and devastating. Only his deliberate retorts are obscure. He directs obscenities against misjudged people only. His father’s death made him melancholy and marked great changes in his character. His failure in the execution of his assigned duty is always circumstantial. Though he is not capable of executing a planned and premeditated action yet he is not incapable of impulsive action. He kills Polonius, boards the pirate ship alone, jumps into Ophelia’s grave, and finally stabs Claudius out of his impulses without caring for consequences.
His soliloquies stand out as an essential pillar of the dramatic structure. They remind him of his duty and rebuke him for his lapses. He is renowned in Denmark for his manliness and princely demeanor. He keeps his fencing practice. He threatens with death those who restrain him from approaching the Ghost. He quests for clear action which mockingly eludes him. He believes Horatio blindly and confides in him all his plans and secret. Hamlet’s irresolution is unmistakable.
In spite of confirmation of doubts and finding suitable opportunity he drops the idea of killing Claudius during prayer on flimsy grounds. His inborn deficiency hinders all his actions. He poses madness but behaves quite normally whenever he chooses. His murder of Polonius is nothing else, but madness born of bitterness and melancholy. He is a man of great talents and artistic interests. He has a deep hatred of hypocrisy and his inner eyes.
He is courageous but silent due to weakness of will. His mental state gets pathological at times. He is a character of extraordinary complexity. No simple formula can serve to solve his mystery. His antic disposition creates hurdles in his task. His activities and movements are watched every moment. He has a prophetic soul. As soon as he receives the news of his father’s death, he suspects Claudius’s hand in it. He is unfortunate.
His involvement in evil and errors of judgment cause misery to others. He considers himself as the rightful heir to the throne. Hamlet does not rebel or snatch the crown from Claudius because he is noble and sweet, sensitive, sophisticated, and intelligent. Circumstances always make his duties more complicated. His faults may be regarded as occupational diseases of avengers.
If he hesitates to kill his uncle it is not out of his horror of blood. He has momentary enthusiasm but is not a master of acts. He cannot plan a murder but he must improvise it. He is only a dreamy fellow. He has a natural inclination for crooked ways. He is apt at befooling others. Still, he is a young man of a highly cultivated mind, royal manners. He has enthusiastic admiration for excellence in others. Hamlet is a different man towards the end. He no longer longs for death or contemplates suicide.
On seeing the skulls he comments on the leveling power of death and the discrepancy between appearance and reality. He ever broods on death but heroically faces it in the graveyard scene. He does no get ready to cancel the fencing match at Horatio’s suggestions. He says, ‘The readiness is all.’ It matters more than death. Even a death he is worried about his worldly reputation and welfare of the state. His spirit achieves grandeur in the end. He has achieved his objective before his death. He says to Horatio, ‘Promise me you will tell the whole world my story.’
Fortinbras decides to give a soldier’s burial to Hamlet the tragic hero.