Many readers of Hamlet feel that they get near to Shakespeare himself; that the tragedy contains a measure of self-revelation. Some critics reject altogether the personal interpretation of Shakespeare’s play. They said that the art is totally impersonal to the utterance of his characters which are to be regarded as purely “dramatic” far from “unlocking his heart” to us in his dramas he worked in a sphere of sheer fancy, reproducing neither his own nor his nation’s life and experience. His plays are documents, which tells a good deal about Shakespeare- not indeed the details of his political or religious opinions, but the general complexion of his sympathies.
Hamlet belongs to a group of works tragicomedies and tragedies, in which general outlook on life is overcast. Shakespeare dwells on the seamy side of thing, and emphasizes the corruptions of society; especially of courts and court life dissects the frailties of human nature and represents the world as out of joint. There is much of his temporary spirit of disillusion and embitterment in Hamlet.
Shakespeare has tried to make the clear image of the general problems of the society of that time and he has tried to unite the emotions like good & evil, love & hate, order & disorder, reality & appearance, truth & falsehood, simplicity & falsehood, nature & art, life & death.
Hamlet is one of his beautiful creations which displays the emotionlessness of Gertrude, the loving and caring wife of King Hamlet who got married within two months of his husband’s death to her husband’s brother, Claudius, who didn’t have kingly qualities which were present in her previous husband.
“O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of the world!
This unadvised action of Gertrude directly affects her only son Prince Hamlet and arises the emotion of hatred towards her mother because of the cheating which she has done, he said.
“Frailty, thy name is woman”
When he remembered his father and his love towards his wife he has been shocked by the act of his feeling-less mother and feels solitude in the wide world.
“Fie on’t! O,Fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely.”
This shows the two different kinds of emotions one are the love of Gertrude for Claudius and the other is the hatred of Prince Hamlet for his mother and greed of Claudius for the throne of Denmark. Shakespeare here shows that how young and high-minded prince converted him in an unweeded garden within a short period of time. And how a queen showed herself so disloyal to her husband. Shakespeare shows an extent of grief and love by the character Prince Hamlet for his father.
Prince Hamlet was troubled about an uncertainty about the manner of his father’s death. It gave out by Claudius that a serpent had stung him, but young Hamlet had shrewd suspicions that Claudius himself was a serpent who had stung him. How far he was right in this conjecture, and what he ought to think of his mother- how far she was privy to this murder, and whether by her consent or knowledge or without, it came to pass- were the doubts which continually harassed and distracted him.
Shakespeare was a dramatist who involves himself in all of the emotions and tries to involve his readers too into those emotions in which actually his characters are involved. Here he shows the keen observation of Prince of Denmark.
Shakespeare thinks that under three headings plot, character - interest and atmosphere firstly the supernatural is an essential part of the machinery of play. The Ghost revelation to Hamlet sets the forces to the whole tragedy in motion. Only the ghost could make the revelation. Claudius is no self-betrayer and besides Claudius not knows that the elder Hamlet was dispatched though all may not have accepted the “forged process” of his death implicitly. Therefore without the ghost’s initial revelation of the truth to Hamlet, there would be no occasion of revenge, in other words, no tragedy of Hamlet.
It is the supernatural awe through which the tragedy looms more impressive. It is a reminder of the existence and immanence of the more things is heaven and earth than of the more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our everyday philosophy. Shakespeare expresses that the Ghost, we feel, is a representative of that hidden ultimate power which rules the universe and the messenger of the divine justice. In most of his dramas, he uses supernaturalism to make it attractive and expressive to readers. Like in Julius Caesar, Ghost of Caesar appears to Brutus in his tent and the spectre of Banquo at Macbeth feast. These are the manifestation to be classed in the same category whether as real in some sense or unreal.
“I am thy father’s spirit;
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away.”
“I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their sphere,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand an end,
Like quills upon the fretful propentine”
Here the ghost of King Hamlet, who appeared in front of Prince Hamlet and provoked him to give them a lesson, cleared all the things. Here in one hand, Prince Hamlet started preparing his mind to take revenge from his uncle for the horrible deed, which he had performed and on the other hand feels love for Ophelia, daughter of the king’s chief counselor named Polonius. Here dramatist is trying to scatter the emotion of love upon the emotion of hatred and revenge. Prince Hamlet sent her letters and gifts and makes many tenders of his affection to her, and importuned her with love and honorable fashion; she had given belief to his vows and importunities. But the melancholy into which he fell latter made him neglect her, and from the time he conceived the project of counterfeiting madness, he affected to treat her with unkindness and sort of rudeness but she rather than to reproach him with being false to her persuaded herself that it was nothing but the disease in his mind and no settled unkindness, which had made him less observant of her than formerly.
When Hamlet was busy in the love meetings with Ophelia once more Shakespeare gives a gentle effect of supernatural to recall Hamlet about his task and once more Prince Hamlet was recharged to take revenge. He tactfully prepared a trick to take revenge from Claudius and her mother.
Here Shakespeare is trying to throw light upon Hamlet’s simplicity in completing his task. He determined that the players would play something like the murder of his father before his uncle, and he would watch narrowly what effect it might have upon him, and from his looks, he would be able to gather with more certainty if he were the murderer or not .To this effect, he ordered a play to be prepared, to the representation of which he invited the king and the queen. By this action, he shows the sense of complexity with simplicity in the play.
When the play begins Prince Hamlet announces its name “Mouse Trap” and the details of the play to the audience including the king and his wife. The play began with the conversation between Gonzaga and his wife, in which the lady made protestations of love. Hamlet observed the king his uncle change color at this expression, and that it was as bad as wormwood both to him and the queen. The king being departed, the play was given over. Now Hamlet saw enough to satisfy that the words of Ghost were true and no illusion. He swore Horatio that he would take the ghost’s word for a thousand pounds.
Shakespeare showed a great combination of complexity in nature. He showed that how an evil is going to solve the problem by her goodness. Hamlet being come to his mother, she began to tax him in the roundest way with the actions and behaviour. She told him that he had given great offence to his father, the king, who because had married her, was called Hamlet’s father. While speaking she realizes that Hamlet is going to be harsh to her she said, “if you show me a little respect, I will set those to you that can speak,” and was going to send the or Polonius to him. She affrighted at his earnest manner and fearful lest in his lunacy. She cried out, suddenly, Hamlet heard a voice and verily thought that it was the king himself their concealed, he drew his sword and stabbed at the place where the voice came from, he concluded the person to be dead. But when he dragged forth the body, it was not the king, but Polonius. Queen exclaimed what a rash and bloody deed you have done!”
“Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,
Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hasty done, must send thee hence
With fiery quickness: therefore prepare thyself,
The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
The associates tend, and every thing is bent
Now the sense of anger and the madness of taking revenge is uplifted by the writer. This unfortunate death of Polonius gave the king a pretext for sending Hamlet out of the kingdom. He would willingly have put him to death, fearing him as dangerous. So this king under a pretence of providing for Hamlet's safety, that he might not be called to account for Polonius’s death, caused him to be conveyed on board a ship bound for England. King cleverly dispatched a letter by the two courtiers. Hamlet, suspecting some tragedy, in the night-time secretly got at the letter and skillfully erasing his own name, he instead of it put in the names of those two courtiers who had the charge of him, to be put to death.
Hamlet is very skillful and a powerful person moves with the ship, which was attacked by the pirates. He fought bravely and returned to Denmark. When he came, he saw the funeral of Ophelia. Brother of Ophelia thought that only the prince was the cause of his father and sister’s death. When the prince came Laertes treated him as an enemy. After watching this act of Laertes, Claudius settled a fight between Hamlet and Laertes.
Now the cleverness of Claudius to Hamlet is shown. Laertes prepared a poisoned weapon by the direction of Claudius, while Claudius in hand prepared the wine, which is mixed with poison because if Hamlet won the fight Claudius would provide him a bowl of poison by the hands of her mother. A day was appointed to the match. At this match all the court was present; and Laertes, by the direction of the King prepared a poisoned weapon. The match began and they started fighting with each other. Hamlet incensed, but not knowing the whole of the treachery, in scuffle exchanged his own innocent weapon for Laertes’s deadly one, and with a thrust of Laertes’s own sword repaid Laertes home. In this instant, the queen shrieked out that she was poisoned. She had inadvertently drunk out of a bowl, which the king had prepared for Hamlet.
Laertes now realizes the whole thing and made confession to Hamlet about the poisonous weapon which has injured Hamlet. When Hamlet saw his end draw near, there being yet some venom left upon the sword, he suddenly turned upon his uncle and thrust the point of it to his heart, fulfilling the promise which he had made to his father’s spirit. Then Hamlet, feeling his breath fail and life departing, turns to his dear friend Horatio, who had been the spectator of this fatal tragedy, and with dying breath requested him that he would live to tell his story to the world. Horatio promised that he would make a true report.
Hamlet is the most contemplative of Shakespeare’s plays. All indeed, but conspicuously those of maturity, are full of “wisdom of life” of an incidental revelation of its mysteries. It is the tragedy of thought. It deals with elemental passions, filial piety, revenge and the instinct of self-defense.
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