A perfect picture: a King and Queen in love, an intelligent son worthy of becoming King, and a happy Nation, content with their rulers. It seems nothing could go wrong, until a tragedy occurs within the castle walls.
This tragedy is so extreme that it breaks the whole royal family apart, and causes the young prince to go “mad. ” Or does it? We begin Shakespeare’s Hamlet after the tragedy has occurred. King Hamlet was the ruler of Denmark and the father of Hamlet. As the king was taking a nap in the garden, his brother, Claudius, poured poison in his ear. After King Hamlet died, Claudius became king.
I’m not totally sure why young Hamlet did not become the king, but I think it was because he was a little too young. This is where Hamlet begins. After his fathers death, Hamlet dresses in black all the time, and is very depressed. He is not only upset about his fathers death, but he is also disappointed in his mother.
Queen Gertrude goes through almost no mourning period for her husband and quickly marries Claudius. While Hamlet mourns, Horatio leads him to a ghost that keeps appearing outside the castle. This ghost seems to be his father, and it tells Hamlet that his death had in fact been murder, and that the new King of Denmark was the murderer. “The serpent that did sting thy fathers life now wears his crown,” (I.
v. 38-39). Astonished by this news, Hamlet swears vengeance for his fathers death. Hamlet is a very smart person. We learn, at the beginning of the play, that he is just coming back from a university in Wittenberg.
Throughout the play, all Hamlet wants to do is go back to the university. His education causes him to have a questioning attitude, which plays a huge role in the whole play. Since he is a scholar, Hamlet is more likely to think things through, rather than act immediately. He contemplates every action, prepares for the reaction, and also weighs the consequences.
When the ghost presents Hamlet with the information about his fathers death, he quickly begins to wonder whether he should believe the apparition, or not. When Claudius sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlets friends, to try and find the cause for his sons madness, Hamlet quickly turns the table and finds out his”friends” real intentions. Hamlet instructs them to report to Claudius that he is upset with the whole situation, and that he senses something is foul in Denmark. Hamlet has the ability to manipulate, and see through people. He uses this power to “perform” throughout the whole play.
Right after seeing the ghost, Hamlet tells Horatio and Marcellus not to let anyone know that he is pretending to be mentally deranged. “Here as before, never, so help you mercy,how strange or odd someer I bear myself,. . . that you, at such times seeing me,never shall.
. know aught of me this do swear,” (I. v. 169-179). This brilliant scheme will provide Hamlet with the ability to perform very strange and unusual acts, and will not be questioned for it.
If he randomly starts accusing people of murder, or if he interrupts a big dinner, or if he says things that are very inappropriate, nobody will realize what his true intentions are, because they will think that he is crazy. Hamlet uses this scheme to pursue his revenge on Claudius. Revenge causes one to act through anger, rather than reason. It is based on the principle of, “An eye for an eye. ” This is what hamlet wants; to avenge his fathers death, by killing Claudius.
Hamlet decides to change a play that will be performed in front of the King and Queen. He changes it, so it is a reenactment of Claudius killing King Hamlet. While the play is being performed, Hamlet will watch for Claudius’ reaction to it. If Claudius starts getting squirmy or uneasy, Hamlet will know for sure that Claudius did, in fact, kill his father. Hamlet would probably take any little movement by Claudius as a confession of guilt, because he is so angry about his fathers death, and wants revenge very badly.
This is why he tells Horatio,”I prythee, when thou sees that act afoot, even with the very comment of thy soul observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt do not itself unkennel in one speech, it is a damned ghost that we have seen, and my imaginations are as foul as Vulcans stithy,” (III. ii. 80-86).