This essay Claudius & Hamlet has a total of 2681 words and 14 pages.
Claudius & Hamlet
Claudius & Hamlet,
would the inhumane and sick character please step forth.
Upon reading the sampling of "Hamlet" criticisms
in John Jump's "Hamlet (Selections)" I disagreed with a few of the critics,
but my analysis was the most different from Wilson Knight's interpretation.
He labels Hamlet as "a sick, cynical, and inhumane prince" (Jump, 124)
who vitiated a Denmark which was "one of healthy and robust life, good-nature,
humor, romantic strength, and welfare." In his book, The Wheel of Fire,
he continues this line of thought to conclude that Claudius is "a good
and gentle king, enmeshed by the chain of causality linking him with his
crime. And this chain he might, perhaps, have broken except for Hamlet"
Although Knight's views of Hamlet and Claudius
are almost the extreme opposite of my interpretation, I understand how
he developed this interpretation. Hamlet becomes sick and cynical after
the death of his father, whom he greatly admired, and the hasty remarriage
of his mother to his uncle. Hamlet thinks his father was an "excellent
king," who loved his mother so much "that he may might not beteem the winds
of heaven/ Visit her face to roughly" (I, ii, 140-141). However, his mother
mourned for "a little month" and then she married a man who was "no more
like [his] father/ Than [he] to Hercules" (I, ii, 153-152). These extraordinary
events cause him to launch into a state of melancholy and depression in
which he desires "that this too too solid flesh would melt" (I, ii, 129).
In this melancholy, Hamlet loses becomes disenchanted with life, and to
him the world seems "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable" (I, ii, 133).
Later in the most famous of his soliloquy's, Hamlet contemplates committing
suicide because he is troubled by "the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune" (III, i, 58). His disinterest for life, and his wishes for death
are a definite indications of Hamlet's sickness.
Hamlet's sickness is also shown through
his strong relationship, bordering on obsession, with his mother. Throughout
the play he constantly worries about her, and becomes angry when thinking
of her relationship with Claudius. In his first soliloquy, Hamlet becomes
enraged when he thinks about her "incestuous sheet," and in frustration
he makes the irrational generalization that, "Frailty, thy name is woman!"
(I, ii, 146). In the closet scene, Hamlet treats his mother cruelly, and
he accuses her of being involved in the plot to kill his father. Once again,
he dwells on her "enseam'd bed/ Stew'd in corruption" (III, iv, 92-93).
In his parting words to Gertrude, Hamlet instructs her to not "let the
bloat king tempt you again to his bed." (III, iv, 182). He is overly concerned
with his mother's relationship with Claudius, and this is just a part of
his complex sickness.
Wilson Knight also claims that Hamlet is"inhumane." This is clearly demonstrated through his relationship with
the fair Ophelia. Hamlet originally professes his love for Ophelia during
his visitations to her closet, and through the love letter which he writes
to her. However, during the nunnery scene, when Ophelia tries to return
Hamlet's gifts, he retorts "I never gave you aught," (III, i, 97) and he
goes on to tell her, "I loved you not" (III, i, 119). Later in this scene
he tells Ophelia that she should go to a nunnery. He viciously insults
the women whom he said he loved, and this greatly disturbs her. During
The Mousetrap, Hamlet once again has no regard for Ophelia's feelings,
and he mocks her by putting his head in her lap and bantering with her.
Hamlet is also responsible for the death of Ophelia's father, Polonius.
In the closet scene, Hamlet mistook her father for the king, and he fatally
stabbed him. Gertrude called this "a rash and bloody deed" (III, iii, 27).
He later shows that he has no remorse for this inhumane actions when he
tells Claudius that Polonius is "at supper...not where he eats, but where
he is eaten" (IV, ii, 18-20).Hamlet's harsh and cruel treatment of Ophelia
and his murder of her father lead to the madness which eventually overtook
her. She became distraught by Hamlet's rejection and the death of her father.
This madness caused her to commit suicide by jumping from the bridge. Therefore,
Hamlet can be held responsible for her death. If he hadn't treated her
in such a cruel manner, her life would not have ended so soon.
Hamlet also reveals an inhumane and cynical
side at the grave scene. When Laertes proclaims his love for Ophelia and
his sorrow for her death, Hamlet rushes from his concealment and jumps
into the grave after Laertes. Hamlet insults Laertes when he states, "Forty
thousand brothers/ Could not, with all their quantity of
Topics Related to Claudius & Hamlet
Characters in Hamlet, Prince Hamlet, Hamlet, Ophelia, Gertrude, Polonius, Laertes, Horatio, Ghost, To be, or not to be, Claudius, King Claudius, hamlet claudius, slings and arrows, sick, committing suicide, inhumane, melancholy, cynical, king, robust life, outrageous fortune, line of thought, remarriage, soliloquy, causality, hasty
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