Growing Pains

Essay by Kyle J. BatesHigh School, 12th gradeA+, January 1997

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In the epic tragedy Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Prince Hamlet is entrapped in

a world of evil that is not of his own creation. He must oppose this evil, which permeates

his seemingly star-struck life from many angles. His dealings with his father's eerie death

cause Hamlet to grow up fast. His family, his sweetheart, and his school friends all appear

to turn against him and to ally themselves with the evil predicament in which Hamlet finds

himself. Hamlet makes multiple attempts to avenge his father's murder, but each fails

because his father's murder, but each fails because his plans are marred by very human

shortcomings. It is these shortcomings that Hamlet is a symbol of ordinary humanity and

give him the room he needs to grow.

The Hamlet that Shakespeare begins to develop in Act I is a typical mortal, bowed

down by his human infirmities and by a disgust of the evils in a world which has led him to

the brink of suicide.

Hamlet voices his thoughts on the issue: 'O that this too too solid

flesh would melt...' (I. ii. 135). He is prevented from this drastic step only by a faith

which teaches him that God has 'fix'd/ His canon 'gainst self-slaughter' (I. ii. 131-2). To

Hamlet appears his dead father's spirit, and he must continue to live in the 'unweeded

garden, / That grows to seed' in order to fulfill the obligation he has to his father (I.ii.


Making Hamlet more a story of personal growth than a dark murder mystery,

Shakespeare emphasizes the emotional, rather than the physical, obstacles that Prince must

face in accomplishing his goal. Immediately, Hamlet must determine whether the ghost

speaks the truth, and to do so he must cope with theological issues. He must settle...