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" (Jump, 125).

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