Hamlet Review. Anithero.

Essay by JohnnyA, March 1997

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Antiheroism has always been an interesting aspect of a character that

authors have chosen to illustrate. In literature, there has been countless

antiheroic characters, from Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's

Nest and Allie Fox in The Mosquito Coast, to others as famous as Robin Hood

and ... By literary definition, an antihero is the 'hero' of the play or

novel, but has negative attributes which separate him or her from the

classic hero such as Superman. Such negative aspects may include a violent

nature, use of coarse language, or self serving interests which may

inadvertently depict the protagonist as a hero since the result of serving

those interests may be the betterment of society or an environment. In

William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the protagonist, Hamlet, is depicted as an

antihero. One main factor which gives Hamlet such a label is that he draws

sympathy, as well as admiration, from the reader since Hamlet feels the

pain of losing his father along with the burden and obstacles in avenging

his murder.

Act four places a special emphasis on Hamlet's intelligence. In scene

two, Hamlet is very insolent and rude towards Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

with such phrases as,

That I can keep your counsel and not, mine own. Beside, to be

demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by the son of a

king? (IV, ii, 12-14)

The reference to the sponge reflects the fact that Rosencrantz and

Guildenstern are easily ordered by the king and do not have minds of their

own. Hamlet does not like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern since they are

servants of the Claudius, Hamlet's mortal enemy. The reader does not like

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern either which causes the reader to side with


Another incident of Hamlet's high intelligence is shown when he...