“Hamlet” by Shakespeare and the ultimate measure Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 5 July 2016

“Hamlet” by Shakespeare and the ultimate measure

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. This powerful quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. is by far a very accurate statement that I believe to be true. A man cannot be judged his worth based on what he does during serene times, but rather he must be judged based on his actions during times of hardship. The literary work that proves this true is the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. In the play, the main character, Hamlet is often found in conflicts and predicaments that he necessarily cannot solve.

One of Hamlets main dilemmas is that he is forced into getting revenge on his uncle for killing his father, marrying his mother, and ultimately becoming king. However, due to Hamlets inability to turn his action into thoughts, this revenge was severely delayed. This inability is a result of his conflict between his physical and inner self, the former being thoughtful and contemplative, while the latter is rash and impulsive. The clash between his personalities often results in the accomplishment of nothing. Although this uncertainty is the main theme of the play, it also portrays Hamlet as a man incapable of making decisions in times of need.

Another thing that judges Hamlets measure as a man is his madness. Whether his madness is deliberate or actual is questionable. Hamlet believes that his madness is just a façade to deter the others of his real intentions. Somewhere in the middle of the play, the readers are confused of whether Hamlet is truly crazy or just acting. It is understandable for a person to take risks to get things done, but there are also times where it is too much and has the opposite effect. In this case, Hamlet tries his best to get revenge on Claudius but due to his implied insanity, he is responsible for the death of Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes and Gertrude.

If Hamlet had just killed Claudius at the first chance he got, then he could have spared the other six lives. Polonius dies because he was spying on Hamlets madness, while Ophelia drowns due to Hamlets madness. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern dies because of Hamlets madness that made Claudius fear his own life. Gertrude entangles with all of this because she is Hamlets mother and is worries about him. Hamlets madness is unnecessary to his goal and is a completely bad choice on his behalf.

Throughout the play, Hamlet has faced problems that nobody would ever want to encounter. Although Hamlet eventually gets his revenge on Claudius by killing him, many lives were wasted in the process. His inaction and his supposed madness interfere with his plans and often make his plans haywire. During his problems, the reader can see that Hamlet is determined to carry out his thoughts, but never actually does so until the end. This hesitant idiosyncrasy of Hamlet also one of the reasons why Hamlet goes mad. Only in challenge and controversy, do we see what Hamlet really is, an immature young boy.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

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