Hamlet is considered by many scholars to be William Shakespeare s masterpiece.
Shakespeare has written many tragedies, comedies, and histories. His works have been
widely produced around the world and are read more widely than any other author in the
world. Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon which was a small market town. He
finished his schooling before marrying at the age of 18 and moved to London to seek his
fortune in the theatrical world.
William Shakespeare was said to have knowledge in music, law, the
Bible, military science, the stage, art, politics, the sea, history, hunting, woodcraft, and
sports. Shakespeare has had an enormous influence on the literature and culture of
English writing today. He also played a role in developing the English language of today.
Making such words as assassination, bump, eventful, and lonely. Shakespeare has
generated such a varied and continuing interest-and such constant affection (Wadsworth
In the tragedy Hamlet the major characters are Hamlet, Claudius, and Laertes.
Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark who s father was the former King of Denmark that was
assassinated. Claudius, Hamlet s uncle and successor to the throne of Denmark, killed
Hamlet s father. Claudius married his brother s wife, Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark.
Laertes is Polonius son and a student at the University of Paris. Laertes father is also
killed and the killer is assumed to be Claudius.
The main theme in Hamlet was revenge. After Hamlet s father s death and the
hasty remarriage of his mother to his uncle, Hamlet started to fall into a suicidal frame of
mind. In this state of mind Hamlet meets the mysterious figure of his father s ghost where
he is told that his uncle, Claudius, was responsible for his death. Hamlet pledges to
revenge his murder by Claudius who, the ghost also informs Hamlets, had committed
adultery with his queen during his lifetime. Although Hamlet accepts the ghost s words
while Hamlet is present with the ghost, during the play Hamlet has doubts about weither
the ghost really was real or not.
Hamlet vows to make haste in revenge of his father s death but procrastinates in
doing so. Hamlet waits until he can commit the perfect revenge. He waits throughout the
whole play and gives up an opportunity to kill Claudius while he is praying but he doesn t
want to kill Claudius and him go to heaven. Hamlet tries to test Claudius guilt by
performing a play which will reproduce Claudius crime and observe his reaction to it.
Claudius broke down during the performance and Hamlet knew by his reaction that he
was the killer.
Hamlet struggles with the timing to kill Claudius and blames it on lack of perfect
opportunity. Hamlet is a coward and he even questions his own weakness in this quote:
A thought which to be quartered, hath but one part wisdom/
And ever three parts coward. I do not know/ Why yet live to
say, this thing s to do, / Sith I have cause, and will, and strength,
and means/ To do t (4.4.44). Am I coward?/ …Swounds, I should
take it! For it cannot be/ but I am pigeon-livered and lack gall (2.2.598).
Hamlet is believed to hesitate in killing Claudius because he is scared of failure. He
does not want to fail his father, his mother, and himself. If Hamlet would have killed
Claudius the night of the play, Polonius, Ophelia, Gertrude, and Laertes would have
The ghost in Hamlet symbolizes Hamlet s father and the crime that Claudius had
done to the kingdom of Denmark and to his own family. Some critics believe that the
ghost was a good ghost and that he was sent to execute public justice; that he was God s
messenger to Hamlet. Other critics believe that the ghost misled Hamlet and called upon
him to execute vengeance that went against all the teachings of Christianity. Critics believe
that is why Hamlet procrastinated in the killing of Claudius because Hamlet knew that
devine ordinance would ultimately have to answer to justice.
My thoughts on Hamlet are that Hamlet should have not tried to avenge his
father s death but let God do his will with Claudius in the end. I can understand Hamlet s
anger towards Claudius and his careful planning of his assassination. I believe that the
ghost was sent by God and Hamlet was suppose to do the execution of Claudius for the
people of his country and not to boost himself into the throne. I do not believe that Hamlet
was at all worried about himself being the next king. In my opinion, if Hamlet would not
have waited so long to kill Claudius then he could have possibly saved the lives of those
that died due to Hamlet enius and many of his works can be read and
interpreted in many different ways.