Hamlet's problem

Essay by mezhoudiHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2004

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Some critics and pundits of literature regard William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, as the greatest literary work in existence. Hamlet and his problem have been the subjects of a seemingly endless amount of intellectual debate and deliberation. Hamlet's problem is immensely complex and is commensurate to its bearer. Hamlet takes his reputation into account. His reputation intertwines with his morality, and thereby, his conscience. The role of scourge and minister of heaven shapes his morality. The alleged ghost of old King Hamlet must be taken into the consideration of Hamlet's conscience also. Hamlet's intellect is a valuable asset to him in his mission as scourge and minister; however, his intellect also causes Hamlet to engage in seemingly excessive but actually necessary cerebration. Perfectionism exists and is active in Hamlet's character. Together Hamlet's attention to his reputation and his morality encompass and extend into the numerous facets of Hamlet and his problem.

Hamlet's reputation is an important factor of his persona. Hamlet's first conversation with his dear friend, Horatio, immediately challenges this idea. Hamlet seemingly claims "We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart" (I.II.175). Hamlet is actually referring to the drinking ritual of the king that he believes mars the perception of the Danes. Hamlet believes that, "it is a custom more honored in the breach than the observance" (I.IV.16). Horatio is his fellow scholar from Wittenberg, and Hamlet is merely concerned about his friend's honor. If Horatio were to learn to drink alcohol excessively, Hamlet would worry about his own name because people would then associate him with drunkards. The concern about his reputation is more evident in less trivial parts of the play. The first chance to reveal Claudius' guilt presents itself immediately after Hamlet has seen the ghost and is reporting to Horatio and Marcellus. The...