Character of Hamlet in Act 1

Essay by elgasimem October 2014

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Explore Shakespeare's introduction of Hamlet in Act 1 of 'Hamlet'

Hamlet, the title character and the protagonist, is The Prince of Denmark. Hamlet in Act 1 is shown to be clinically depressed, acrimonious, and cynical, full of hatred towards his uncle and disgust for his mother's sexuality. A reflective and thoughtful young man, Hamlet is often indecisive and hesitant. I will explore the character of Hamlet by focusing on two key passages in Act 1 - Hamlet's first soliloquy in scene 2 and his first encounter with the Ghost in scene 5. Shakespeare uses soliloquy so Hamlet can share with the audience feelings he could not voice in public.

The soliloquy starts and stops, punctuated by expression of pain and confusion. The disjointed rhythm and dislocated progress of Hamlet's thoughts conveys to us his inner turmoil. This is emphasised by the repetition of 'O God', the use 'fie on't ah fie' and 'Must I remember?', which perhaps suggests that he is clinically depressed as this thoughts do not flow smoothly.

Hamlet's thoughts are not fluent; he often interrupts himself with his own expressive comments, as evident in the lines: 'That it should come to this - But two months dead, nay not so much, not two-' (I.2.137). Shakespeare's intent here is to emphasise Hamlet's extreme distress, but the language also stresses the speed at which his mother re-married and Hamlet's obvious distaste towards it. Shakespeare demonstrates Hamlet's building grief, making the rhythm accelerate as Hamlet's thoughts resides on his mother's actions.

The Soliloquy starts off with a whimper: 'O, that this too too solid flesh would melt'. (I.2.129). Hamlet is moaning about how depressed he is over his father's death and mom's remarriage, and wishes that his 'flesh' would 'melt' - i.e., that he'd die. The duplication...