How to turn Hamlet in an essay

Lexa Pennington's picture

When writing an essay on a literary subject, curiosity and inquisitiveness play a major role. It is important to ask pertinent questions about the literary figures. For instance, when writing an essay on Hamlet, a play by Shakespeare, the main requirement is to do a thorough critical analysis of Hamlet. In order to do this, the reader is required to delve deeper into the characters and the premises of the story. All the characters in any of Shakespeare's plays are immensely colorful and have a lot of depth. Hence, while performing a literary analysis about Hamlet, it becomes much easier to concentrate on the characters and move ahead. Most literary characters are subjected to premises to which they act based on a particular trait, which is indecisiveness, in the case of Hamlet. 

How to turn Hamlet in an essay
Protagonist personality

Hamlet is a character who had to make multiple decisions and live through difficult circumstances, like the death of his father, the marriage of his mother to the murderer of his father (who was his uncle!), his post-traumatic behavior, along with his love for his childhood sweetheart. The cyclical structure of these circumstances brought to the fore the major characteristic of the protagonist's personality. At one point in the play, Hamlet began to question every relationship in his life...and saw his trust shatter. In spite of this, Hamlet was unable to kill the murderer of his father, owing to his principles. It was his indecisiveness about whether to stick with his religious beliefs or continue to remain loyal to his father that cost him a major opportunity when it came to avenging the death of his beloved father. Vengeance and the indecisiveness highlight the weakness in the character of the humans involved in the story. This is further highlighted by Hamlet's behavior with the love of his life, whom he ends up losing, as well. He declared his love for the woman only when he saw her corpse, which indicates his emotional weakness. It can be argued that this can be attributed to the behavior of his mother, which led to losing his respect for women. Most of Hamlet's beliefs arose from the deception that he witnessed at the hands of the primary members of his life.

Cyclical structure of the circumstances

The quintessential feature of a tragic hero, self-doubt, begins to feature in Hamlet when the protagonist is unable to avenge his father's death. After continual contemplation, which further led to procrastination of his one aim, Hamlet seeps into a mental which point, the reader begins to side with the hero, in spite of the fact that he had the motive, means, and even the willpower to bring justice to his father. However, this is a brilliant example of a flawed human character in which the external circumstances affect the power of decision-making. It is his mother's marriage to Claudius, and him witnessing the murderer in the act of praying, that delayed his main goal. Throughout the story, we see the emotional turmoil that the character constantly battles in order to overcome his unruly circumstances and a descent into madness. The final act of the death of the entire royal family, and the kingdom going in the hands of the Norwegian royalty, further highlights how the emotional turmoil of a family eventually acts in the advantage of the enemy. 

No matter the story or the play, literary analysis leads to multiple questions and highlights the flaws and strengths of the characters. However, most characters are relatable to actual humans, while the flaws in the protagonist personality stem from the general flaws of humankind. It is this revelation that brings forth the questing nature of literary essays.