Following are some most Important Aspects of Hamlet:
The first attribute of Hamlet, according to a critic (Maynard Mack) that impresses the reader is mysteriousness. The evidence of this mysteriousness is seen partly in the numerous explanations that have been offered by various commentators for Hamlet’s delay, his madness, his treatment of Polonius or of Ophelia or of his mother. This mysteriousness is also seen in the controversies that still go on about whether the play is a failure or one of the greatest artistic triumphs; whether, if it is a triumph, it belongs to the highest order of tragedy; whether, if it is such a tragedy, its hero is to be taken as a man of exquisite moral sensibility or an egomaniac. This play raises many questions. It seems to have been written pre-eminently in the interrogative mood, and it seems to deal with a world which, on the whole, is inscrutable. The play begins with a tense series of challenges. Bernard challenges Francisco: “Who’s there? Francisco challenges Horatio and Marcellus: “Who’s there?” Horatio asks the ghost: “What art thou . . . .?” And then there are the famous questions in which the interrogations point not only beyond the context but beyond the play: “What a piece of work is a man . . . and yet to me, .what is this quintessence of dust?” “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” “Get thee to a nunnery, why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?” “1 am very proud, revengeful, ambitious what should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven?” “Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’ the earth? . . . And smelt so? His mind plays restlessly about his world, turning up one riddle upon another. His madness itself is riddling. His mother—how could she “on this fair mountain leave to feed, and batten on this moor?”* The Ghost—which may be a Hamlet asks his mother this question in Act III, Scene iv, 66*67. Devil 7 Ophelia—what does her behavior to him mean? Even the King at his prayer is a riddle. Will a revenge that is taken upon him when he is at prayer be vengeance or a reward? As for himself, Hamlet realizes, he is the greatest riddle of all. He cannot tell why he has of late lost all his mirth, forgone all custom of exercises. Can he tell why he delays: I do not know, why yet I live to say: “this thing’s to do.”
The Mysteriousness of the Opening Scene
The world of Hamlet has a built-in mysteriousness. This mysteriousness is an important part of what the play wishes to say to us. And it is certainly an element of which we become aware from the opening word the mysteriousness of the very first scene is notable. The cold middle of the night on the castle platform, the muffled sentries, the uneasy atmosphere of apprehension, the challenges leaping out of the dark, the questions that follow the challenges, the searching for identities and for assurance: “Barnardo ?” “Have you had quiet guard ?” “Who has relieved you?” “What, is Horatio there?” What, has this thing appeared again tonight? How now Horatio! Is this not something more than fantasy?” etc. elc. There are a number of hints and guesses whispering through the darkness as the several watchers speak : “Some say the bird of dawning’’ sings all night at Christmas time, “and then they say no spirit dare stir abroad.” “So have I heard and do in part believe it.” The opening scene creates a world of uncertainties.
The Problematic Nature of Reality; and the Relation of Reality to Appearance
A second attribute of the world of Hamlet is the problematic nature of reality and the relation of reality to appearance. And the ghost is somehow real because it is through the ghost that Hamlet comes to know that Claudius is the murderer of his father and that his mother is guilty of adultery as well as incest. Yet there is the uncertainly of this information, because possibly the apparition is an apparition, a devil who has assumed the shape of Hamlet’s father. This kind of uncertainty is recurrent in the play, from the court’s point of view, there is Hamlet’s madness. Polonius examine and gets some strange and fearful advice from Hamlet who says to him about Ophelia. “Conception is a blessing, but as your daughter may conceive, friend look to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern investigate and get this strange information from Hamlet: “Man delights not me, no, nor woman neither.” Ophelia is “loosed” to Hamlet, while Polonius and the King hide behind the arras, and what they hear is a strange condemnation of human nature, and a riddling threat.
Reality and Appearance in Relation to Ophelia
On the other hand, from Hamlet’s point of view there is Ophelia, Kneeling down here at her prayers, she seems the image of devotion. Yet she is also, as it seems to him, a decoy in a trick. The famous cry: “Get thee to a nunnery” shows the anguish of his uncertainty. If Ophelia is innocent, Where she “as chaste as ice, as pure as snow”, she could not escape the world’s slanders.
Facts You Must Know About some important Aspects of Hamlet
Mortality, another Attribute of the Play
Another attribute of this play may be called “mortality” which may be taken to mean not simply death but all the heartache, the torments, and all the misfortunes to which human beings are subject. The sense of mortality reaches its full development in Acts IV and V. The sense of mortality in the play is conveyed to us in three ways. First, there is the emphasis, in the play, on human weakness, the instability of human purpose, the subjection of humanity to accidents of fate; in fact all that we might call the aspect of failure in man. This theme opens in Act I, when Hamlet describes how a man’s whole character may take corruption from a single blemish, perhaps not even the victim’ fault.
Claudius dwells on it again while engaged in seducing Laertes to step behind the arras of a seeker’s world and dispose of Hamlet by a trap. Time heals all the wounds, everything, As for purpose—“That we would do/We should do when we would: The player-king, in delivers long speeches to his queen in the play, sets the matter in a still darker light. She means these protestations of undying love, he knows, but our purposes and memory fades fast. Or else, he suggests, we purpose something to ourselves in a condition of strong feeling, but then the feeling goes, and with it the resolve. Or else, our fortunes change, he adds, and with these our lov2s: “The great man down, you mark his favorite flies.”
The subjection of human aims to fortune is a reiterated theme in Hamlet, as subsequently in Lear. Fortune is the harlot goddess in whose secret parts men like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern live and thrive ; the strumpet who threw down Troy and Hecuba and Priam ; the outrageous foe whose slings and arrows a man of principle must suffer or seek release m suicide. Horatio suffers them with composure. For Hamlet the task is of a greater difficulty.
The Emphasis on Infection
Secondly, there is the emphasis on infection: the ulcer, the hidden abscess, “the imposture of much wealth and peace,/That devil ? Ophelia—what does her behavior to him mean? Even the King at his prayer is a riddle. Will a revenge that is taken upon him when he is at prayer be vengeance or a reward? As for himself, Hamlet realizes, he is the greatest riddle of all. He cannot tell why he has o lost all custom inward breaks, and shows no cause without/Why the man dies.” But the chief form in which the theme of mortality reaches us is as a profound consciousness of loss. Hamlet’s father expresses something of the kind when he tells Hamlet how his queen, betraying his love, had lowered herself by choosing a wretch whose natural gifts were poor as compared to his: ‘O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there?” Ophelia expresses it again, on hearing Hamlet’s denunciation of love and woman 111 the nunnery scene, which she takes to be the product of a messy brain: “O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown *” And then there is that further sense of loss when Ophelia too goes mad and is “divided from herself and her fair judgment.”
The Changes in Denmark
This is also important aspect of hamlet We are reminded again and again in the course of the play of the time when Denmark was a different place That was before Hamlet’s mother betrayed her husband’s love, and . When Hamlet was still the hope of (lie nation and Ophelia was like a “rose of May” Denmark was a garden then, when Hamlet’s father ruled. There had been something, heroic about his father a king who met the threats to Denmark in open battle, fought with Norway, smote the sledded Polacks on the ice, slew the elder Fortinbras in an honourable trial of strength. There had been something god-like about his father too: “
In the garden, and “the serpent that did sting thy father’s life/now wears his crown.” .The martial virtues are now ignored. The threats to Denmark are met by policy, by agents working devious! The moral virtues are ignored also. Hyperion’s throne is occupied by “a king of shreds and patches”, and Hyperion’s bed is occupied by a satyr, a paddock, a bat, a bloat king with reach kisses. The garden is unwedded now. Liven in him; Hamlet feels the taint, the taint of being his mother’s son.
Hamlet’s problem, in its crudest form, is simply the problem of the avenger: he must carry out the injunction of the Ghost. All these expressions about Claudius are used by the Ghost. Kill the king. But this problem is presented in terms of a certain kind of world. The ghost’s injunction to act becomes so inextricably bound up for Hamlet with the character of the world in which the action must be performed—its mysteriousness, its battling appearances, its deep consciousness of infection, frailty and loss – that he cannot come to terms with cither without coming to terms with both.
Hamlet has not only to accept the mystery of man’s condition between the angels and the brutes, but also to act in a perplexing and soiling world. He has also to act within the human limits. He is aware of that line poise of body and mind that suits the action to the word, the word to the action; but he cannot at first achieve it in himself. He vacillates between undisciplined emotion and thinking too precisely on the event.
Hamlet, a Different Man in the Last Act
In the last Act of the play, Hamlet accepts his world and we discover a different man. He is now wearing a different dress (no longer the disordered costume of his antic disposition), and he displays a considerable change of mood. Not that Hamlet has suddenly become religious; He has been religious all through the play. But he has now learned, and accepted, the boundaries in which human action and human judgment are enclosed.. He had been too quick to take the burden of the whole world upon his limited self. The whole time was out of joint, he felt, and in his egocentricity he was to set it right.AS he misjudged Ophelia, seeing in her only a “breeder of sinners”‘.As he misjudged himself, seeing himself a vermin crawling between earth and heaven. Hence he took it upon himself to be his mother’s conscience. Now, he has learned that there are limits that human reason can comprehend. Hamlet is now ready for what may happen, and what should be happened. There’s a divinity that shapes our ends/Rough-hew them how we will”. The readiness is all.” I he crucial evidence of Hamlet’s new frame of mind is the graveyard scene where he accepts the condition of being man. Alter the graveyard scene and what it indicates has come to pass in him, Hamlet accepts the world as it is.