Duality Of Hamlet

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Illustration of the duality in Hamlet's character

It is often noticed that people have more than one side to their personality at the same time. The character of Hamlet is a perfect example of the duality of human nature as Hamlet's character is both noble and wicked at the same time.

At the beginning of the book the reader sees "normal" Hamlet as he grieves for the death of his father, Hamlet is still in shock over his fathers death and the quick remarriage of his mother, he is not sure of what is really going on, thus the duality is not yet present in his character. Not long after the ghost of old Hamlet appears to young Hamlet, when he meats the ghost of his father and finds out a different version of his father's death his attitude and perspective changes. Hamlet attitude changes in a heartbeat and gives himself the challenge to find out the truth and prove it. This is when the duality starts to appear in Hamlet's character.
One part of Hamlet's character is noble as he grieves for his father and despises the situation that his mother, Gertrude has left him in. During some parts of the play the reader might be under the impression that Hamlet dislikes his mother but on the contrary he still loves her even though she seems to have left him cornered. Hamlet is aggressive towards his mother hoping to make her understand the actions and consequences that she has invoked.
The second part of Hamlet's character is seen as wicked as he seeks and plans ways to avenge his father"˜s death. The first plan that Hamlet devises is the Mouse Trap play that helps Hamlet find out the truth and turns out proving Claudious guilty, witch is what Hamlet was hoping for. This leads Hamlet to his next step, to plot revenge against the guilty king and bring him down. With this a new duality is born in Hamlet's character as he fakes insanity or madness. So this leaves Hamlet with about three personalities, normal Hamlet that the reader sees at the beginning, noble Hamlet and wicked Hamlet, mad Hamlet is part of the wicked Hamlet.
In his duality Hamlet's character portrays the perfect portrait of noble and wicked. While noble Hamlet loves Ophelia and tries to protect her from the "evil" plans of the king Claudious. When Hamlet is seen as wicked it is quite obvious that he has only one goal, revenge. Hamlet stabs Polonious without knowing who he was and feels no remorse as he believes it was for the better because he was helping the King.
The duality, and collision, between revenge and religion is a powerful one in Hamlet, and indicative of a larger cultural collision dealt with by the play. The revenge imperative is largely aristocratic and might even be seen as pagan in origin, a need to regain honor through the killing of the one who took that honor. But the religious imperative to act morally and according to Christian dictates is also powerful and prevalent. What is interesting is that both of these seemingly incompatible modes of life, the pagan/wicked and noble, are prevalent in the world inhabited by Hamlet. So, then, this leaves a play that illustrates both of these ways of life as coinciding and overlapping, and none of the characters except Hamlet seems to see that such an overlap creates contrasts that are impossible to bridge. Here one might note Hamlet's response to Gertrude "Hamlet," she asks, "why seems it so particular with thee?" "Seems, madam? I know not seems. I know what is?"(Hamlet I,). Indeed, Hamlet does seem to see what is, which is precisely that the world in which he lives has terrible inconsistencies that his fellows somehow can pass over simply because they do not look hard enough to see them. It is arguable that this problem for Hamlet is never resolved. It's a very interesting discontinuity; and it's a vital one to the play as a whole, branching into all sorts of secondary questions about religion and motive, and perhaps even offering a deeper understanding of Hamlet's slow movement to act beyond simply that he was a procrastinator. Perhaps in seeing so deeply to the core of things and finding only inconsistency he lost footing from the "solid" ground from which he might act.

One of the first images that are created to further Shakespeare's investigation of humanity is created by Hamlet in his first soliloquy. This simple comparison brings to life the feeling that the treachery and corruption surrounding him is enveloping all that he is familiar with. No longer is he able to see the metaphorical flowers of joy and prosperity that were once so familiar and comforting to him as they are becoming increasingly obscured by the rampant weeds of vile corruption. Hamlet furthers his emotional outpouring when he wishes that his "flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew." He clearly wishes not to deal with the corruption that has grown thick around him. He goes as far as to offer his life for such an escape. This is exactly where Hamlet's character is portrayed as fighting between good and evil and it shows just how much Hamlet wanted to vanish from the earth, but this attitude is shown in a manner that enables the reader to visualize this state of mind and understand Hamlet's suicidal thoughts as rational contemplations. Hamlet is not a suicidal maniac, but rather a deeply troubled man who is too honorable to do anything less then what is right even when the world around him is full of many evil and corrupt individuals that don't share his ethical maturity.

The duality of Hamlet's character is constant throughout the whole book, from the time when he sees the ghost till the end at his death. Hamlet, who is killed by poison, presents an entirely different message. He dies with the knowledge and respect "Heaven make thee free of it" (Hamlet V II). This respectable death not only promises him a prosperous memory on Earth, but it leads one to believe that he will also be well treated in the afterlife. Hamlet was a murderer, but this seems unimportant in the light of his motivations. He sought to do what he thought was honorable to society, and this is what Shakespeare rewards him for. He avoided the desires for power that controlled Claudius and remained true to an honorable path. Shakespeare clearly presented the idea of unselfish ethics to be one of the highest esteem. Hamlet was a hero not because of his ability to achieve revenge, but because his intentions throughout his journey were rooted above self-satisfaction. The various mentalities seen through out the play were brought to an end that was purchased with the value of their respective characters as determined by Shakespeare.
Hamlet's story lives on with honor while those who possessed an insincere character died with disgrace. The moral journey that Hamlet embarks upon proves that the ambitions of a petty person are to be looked down upon in light of the ambitions of an ethical person. Claudius follows his lustful desires all of the way to the throne. He wins in his ambitions but fails in a more important sense. Hamlet, who is viewed as a lunatic and murderer, follows the truly important threads of life to ultimately defeat the treachery that surrounds him, this is Hamlet's duality joined back together as the reader can see the wicked side and noble side joined for the one goal of overturning the evil. In the same way that the flowers in the garden have little control over the weeds that constantly attempt to overthrow them, Hamlet saw little chance of righting what was wrong. He was trouble with the idea that justice would require him to stoop to the level of a vengeful murderer, but in the end fate rewarded Hamlet's strength of character with his revenge without compromising his morals.

Works Cited

Shakespeare William. The Tragedy of Hamlet. Pocket Books, Washington Square Press: New York, New York, 1992
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