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In Shakespeare’s famous play “Hamlet”, Hamlet reveals the duality of human nature as he is the hero of one plot whilst a villain in the other. Hamlet portrays the heroic characteristics through bravery and fearlessness. On the other hand, he is a villain because he is a coward, disrespectful and he would do anything to achieve and benefit for himself. But Hamlet is neither a complete hero nor a complete villain. He is both, and this contributes to Shakespeare’s message concerning the duality of human nature. The following paragraphs will elaborate on Hamlet’s 3 different types of personalities.
Hamlet being a hero of a plot is a major theme in the play. This is shown by through his actions of avenging his father’s death by killing the current king Claudius, Hamlets uncle. Hamlet demonstrates the quality of braveness by following the ghost ignoring the fears of his friend for him strong enough to break the restraining hold and follows the horrible illusion not knowing what could happen to him. [Hamlet-Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 4, 88 – 95] “Hold off your hands”, “My fate cries out and makes each petty artery in this body as hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve. Still am I called.- Unhand me, gentleman. By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me! I say, away. -Go on. I’ll follow thee. Hamlet does this because he is in desperate urge of wanting to discover how his father died and that he truly loves his father.
The final reason for Hamlet being a hero is because he is not afraid of facing a politically superior man. This means that hamlet is not afraid to face the king; a person more powerful than him and tell everyone the truth about what happened to his father. Hamlet demonstrates the quality of fearlessness when is ready to fight the king. This is proven when he says [Hamlet-Shakespeare Act 5, Scene2 198 -200] “I am constant to my purpose, they follow the King’s pleasure. If his fitness speaks, mine is ready. Now or whensoever, provided I be so able as now” These words show that Hamlet’s fearlessness quality and that he is not afraid of facing a person much more powerful than him. Hamlet shows his bravery, fearlessness and determination through his action and speech and those are the qualities of a hero.
Although Hamlet has many great Heroic qualities, he also has numerous villain characteristics shown through his actions and speech. He may be seen as a villain because he caused the death to the whole royal family including Polonius, Ophelia and even himself. One of his villain characteristics is portrayed when Hamlet said some harsh words to his mother making her feel threatened. [Hamlet-Shakespeare, Act 3, Scene 4, 21-23] “Come, come, and sit you down. You shall not budge. You go not till I set you up a glass Where you may see the inmost part of you”. These words illustrate one of Hamlet’s villain characteristics of being disrespectful.
In addition to that, he broke Ophelia’s heart, as well as killing her father which caused her to become insane and lead her to commit suiciding. He also lied to his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern changing the letter making them the suspect of execution. Hamlet says [Hamlet-Shakespeare Act 5, Scene 2, 61-66] “Why, man, they did make love to this employment. They are not near my conscience. Their defeat does by their own insinuation grow. ‘Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes between the pass and fell incensed points of mighty opposites.” This shows that Hamlet is a coward, not facing execution himself but had to make his innocent friends face execution for him. These evidences proves that Hamlet is a villain because the death of the king Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Laertes, Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and himself is caused by him either directly or indirectly.
Shakespeare uses the characters in the play Hamlet, especially the protagonist Hamlet to imitate the duality of human nature. Hamlet is a perfect example of a duality because he is both noble and immoral at the same time. An example of this is at the beginning when he is shocked over his father death and his mother’s quick remarriage to his uncle. This is shown in the text when Hamlet says [Hamlet-Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 2, 151-158] “even she – O, God, a beast, that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer – married with my uncle, my father’s brother, but no more like my father than I to Hercules. Within a month, ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married.” He then changes when he soon discovers about how his father was murdered and desires to seek revenge.
Another example of a duality is that Hamlet exposes the noble side of himself. This is when he grieves for his father and despises the situation that his mother has left him in. He says [Hamlet-Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 2, 85-88] “These indeed seem, for they are actions that a man might play. But I have that within which passes show these but the trappings and the suits of woe.” This makes the reader feel that he dislikes his mother but on the contrary he still loves her even though she has left him in a miserable situation. These examples portray the duality of human nature from the character Hamlet.
Hamlet can be both the hero due to the bravery and fearlessness he has shown through his actions. Although he shows heroic qualities, he can still be a villain through his coward, disrespectful and immoral actions. Hamlet is often noticed that he has more than one side to his personality at the same time and this is revealed through the play when he stands for what he believes in and takes avenge for his father’s death but in the contrary not only did he kill Claudius, he was involved in everyone’s death including Ophelia, Polonius, Gertrude, Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and that he would do anything to achieve and benefit for himself. Through these actions, Hamlet portrays the qualities of the duality of human nature.