Essay on Character Analysis of Hamlet



Is insanity inevitable when all seems lost? Does it make us question who we are or make us realize the extent of our situation? In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the character Hamlet struggles to find his identity in a world without his father while trying to kill his uncle. As Hamlet contemplates killing his uncle, he is torn with whether or not it is the right thing to do and he begins to lose himself. As evidenced through different pieces of literature, losing oneself due to trauma can inevitably lead to mental illness and a spiral to insanity. 

An other’s well-being should never be put in place over one's own but due to Hamlet’s scenario, his life is put on hold for his father’s revenge. Since Hamlet's childhood, he has looked up to his father as a role model and someone who he strives to be. When his father was killed and his mother remarried his life deteriorated and he lost his sense of worth. Knowing that his father was killed by his uncle, his mother’s marriage was an unforgivable betrayal and it was too much for Hamlet to bear. His new environment took a toll on his emotional and physical well-being. Hamlet's emotional distress is similar to the parents in Nabokov’s Signs and Symbols, as the parents’ son is trying to take his own life and they are thrown into his world of anguish. As the parents went to visit their son at the mental hospital, misfortunes continued through their day. The “subway train lost its life current”, signifies their own lifeline loss which is their son, since he had nothing to live for the parents lost themselves in this process (Nabokov).  Likewise to Hamlet who has lost all he had from his father’s quick death leaving him no time to mourn. Hamlet himself doesn’t “cast thy nighted color off” as he continues to wear black symbolizing his extended period of mourning (Shakespeare 1.2.70). So as all other life in the kingdom moved on, Hamlet is still stuck on the subway train that won’t start again. Due to his traumatic experiences after returning home from England, this new distressing environment started his slow fall to losing himself and his eventual insanity and madness. Though on the outside Hamlet swears it's all an act, Hamlet internally is like “The bird... helplessly twitching in a puddle.”  unable to swim out of the hole he had created for himself (Nabokov). Consequently, just like the bird, he has trapped himself in his own madness and it will eventually consume him, due to the task he is required to complete for his family's honor. Hamlet and the parents both feel a strong sense of loss, and both feel it's their responsibility for Hamlet to avenge his late father and for the parents to help try to get their son out of his dark placeHamlet's environment, similar to the parents’ from signs and symbols, caused him to gradually feel the pain of losing his father and led to him losing himself as he lost a crucial part of his life.

As Hamlet's quest for revenge continues, he finds himself struggling to complete the action that he promised his father’s ghost, leading to challenges that would test his character. As Hamlet learns of his task, he begins to become “strange or odd” and he tells Horatio it's all an act and to not be frightened (Shakespeare 1.5.190).  Although he says he is not mad, he has been missing a piece of himself since his father’s death and this may be his thought process of trying to retrieve it. through avenging his father. He, like the narrator in the poem The Sea Shell, by Sorescu are both trying to remember who they were as they continue to hide behind their fake facades to fit into the world that was built. Hamlet's old self is “hidden inside a seashell”, which he can no longer find; as he dives deeper into the depths of his portrayal of madness that eventually becomes his permanent personality (Sorscue, line 1). Hence, his continued focus on showing the world he is mad so he could kill his uncle and his motivation for revenge cause him to become so entangled in trauma that he truly portrays the insanity. Shakespeare explicitly conveys this idea as Hamlet kills Polonius, who he believed to be his father, as he hides behind the curtain while Hamlet speaks to his mother without a second thought, and in doing so doesn't show any kind of remorse. Due to this action, it can be inferred that Hamlet has become so obsessed with the basis of revenge that he will stop at nothing to complete the task. During the fourth act, Hamlet has expressed to his mother it is all an act to avenge his father; it can be seen that Hamlet is “filtering the sea”  but unable to grasp the concept that he is no longer himself (line 4, Sorescu). Due to this emotional trauma, he has finally lost himself and his sole purpose of revenge turns into a new branch of insanity as he ends up killing others, not feeling a bit of guilt for his actions. Since he has been hiding behind this facade for so long, he truly becomes mentally ill due to the stress and challenges that are too hard for him to handle. His insanity therefore grows and Hamlet forgets his old self before the news of his father’s death and is unable to find his identity lost at sea.

What helps make one's life complete is the idea of someone who will support you no matter your condition. The connection made comes with benefits but also the cost of becoming so attached to the thought of losing them is unbearable. Unable to pull themselves from the hole as their lifeline has faded away and part of their whole is gone, they begin to spiral down into madness they cannot escape. Though time may find a way to heal their aching hearts one usually has no escape from the piece they can't replace.