Hamlet - To Blame  Essay

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William Shakespear - Hamlet

Hamlet's responsibility for crimes occurring in "The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark"

"The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" is one of William Shakespeare's greatest works and an inspiration for the world for the last four centuries. The play generates much controversy as audiences are encouraged to get actively involved in interpreting it as a consequence of the multitude of emotions it contains. Considering ideas like blame or responsibility in this play can be a very intriguing act, taking into account the ease with which one can falsely attribute them to a character. While the easiest thing to do is to believe that Hamlet is to blame for much of the suffering that occurs across the tragedy's duration, the reality is that the play is too complex for that, with the Prince actually being a victim -- he was unable to understand the situation he was in and invested all of his resources in trying to find a solution.

Hamlet's accountability for deaths occurring throughout the play

Most people would be inclined to consider that Hamlet is the only individual responsible for the fact that numerous individuals die during the play. Polonius dies by accidents as a consequence of being in Gertrude's closet (Hamlet believes he is actually Claudius and murders him). While it would be difficult and almost impossible to determine whether Ophelia dies by accident or if she commits suicide, her madness is attributed to her father's death. Hamlet writes false letters sentencing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to be executed in an attempt to save his own life. Laertes dies at Hamlet's hands as the latter uses the poisonous sword initially meant for him. Hamlet is infuriated with Claudius' role in the deaths of his parents and proceeds to stab him with the same poisonous sword that was intended to kill the Prince

It would be safe to say that Hamlet is a victim of circumstances, as he is in a very fragile state of mind throughout the play as a consequence of the information he comes across with regard to his father. His tendency to wait and reveal his uncle's plot can be attributed to him being in a state of shock as a result of learning more about the events surrounding his father's death. Furthermore, it would have been wrong for him to act immediately and without thinking his plan through. The fact that he is hesitant about trusting the ghost makes it possible for audiences to understand that Hamlet can actually be a cautious person and that he prefers to be certain with regard to his uncle's responsibility for his father's death.

Hamlet's limited understanding of life and of human interactions is one of the principal reasons of his downfall and of several of the deaths occurring throughout the play. His love for his mother and for Ophelia leads to him trusting both of them unconditionally and acting in agreement with their thinking. As a consequence, Hamlet is virtually influenced to become distracted and inactive as a result of the two women in his life.

Hamlet's attachment to his mother can be likened to an Oedipal condition, as it is somewhat likely for him to initially identify with his uncle. This makes it difficult for him to consider the circumstances he is in and fuels his madness. The Prince seems to be divided between two worlds, this further contributing to displaying the extreme emotional states he is dealing with. At one point he seems to be especially appreciative with an individual's passion and then proceeds to reveal how he is actually not as supportive as it might seem:

"…Give me that man

That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him

In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,

As I do thee. (Act 3, Scene 2,-Page 3, 66-69)

Hamlet puts across a great deal of confusion and it is likely that many audiences have trouble following his trail of thought. At times he seems to be particularly intelligent, but then his disturbed state of mind overcomes him and he is unable to employ a rational type of thinking as a consequence. He seems to be acquainted with the fact that his mind is unstable, but he also appears to control his madness and is unhesitant about informing people with regard to this:

"I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw." (Act 2, Scene 2,-Page 16, 352-353)

III. Hesitation as a fault

One of the main reasons why Hamlet is to blame as a result of the people dying around him would be the fact that he hesitates about murdering Claudius. It seems difficult to determine the reason behind his behavior. While madness is the most convenient reason when regarding matters from the audience's perspective, the reality is that it is difficult to differentiate between moments when Hamlet is actually expressing his opinion and moments when he is controlled by his insanity. One can look at this concept from two different points-of-view. By simply accepting that Hamlet was mad and thus unable to think properly, it would seem that all of his actions were part of a chaotic circus he put together. In contrast, by considering that he was actually interested to have solid evidence with regard to his father's murder, it would appear that his actions were part of a cleverly organized plan through which he intended to provide a solution to his problems. In this case, other unfortunate incidents occurring throughout the play might be linked to Hamlet's failure to consider the variables involved in his plan.

IV. Hamlet's acknowledgement of the suffering he provoked

In the play's conclusion it seems that Hamlet really understands the role he played in a series of deaths occurring throughout the play. His apology toward Laertes is sincere and it seems he has nothing against recognizing his guilt. Even with this, Hamlet also relates to his madness as a reason for his actions, thus proving that he might not be as accountable as most audiences and the other characters in the play would like to believe.

"…What I have done

That might your nature, honor, and exception

Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.

Was't Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet.

If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away,

And when he's not himself does wrong Laertes,

Then Hamlet does it not. Hamlet denies it.

Who does it, then? His madness. If't be so,

Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged.

His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy." (Act 5, Scene 2,-Page 10, 217-226)

When coming across Hamlet's opinion about himself and his actions, it would be safe to say that he is not necessarily interested in providing a motive for his actions. Even with the fact that he acknowledges the fact that he was mad, he appears to also admit his involvement in the several deaths that preceded this moment and to provide his listeners with the ability to learn more about his character in general.

V. Shakespeare -- the person behind Hamlet's flaws

If something, one can attribute Hamlet's problem to the actual playwright's tendency to place the central character in circumstances that cannot possibly have a fortunate outcome. The character is doomed from the very first lines of the play, as Shakespeare intends to put him through a great deal of suffering in spite of his obvious struggle to resolve matters through rational actions.

Even with the playwright's inclination to put Hamlet in situations that reveal the central character's difficulty to put across social behaviors, it would seem that these respective situations are meant to emphasize Hamlet's virtues. Hamlet is but a victim in a river of lies and crimes that occur in a poison-infested Denmark. The central character is taken through a chain of events that destroy his ability to think rationally and that eventually bring him to a state where he finds it impossible to understand things he previously thought to be very clear. The tragedy is actually Hamlet's development from a praise-worthy Prince to a madman who is solely motivated by his interest in getting revenge -- to a point where he no longer understands why he wants it. Horatio is, to some degree, the only one who seems to see things clearly and who struggles to influence everyone in the play to maintain their calm:

"So shall you hear

Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,

Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,

Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause." (Act 5, Scene 2,-Page 18, 381-384)

VI. Hamlet's background making him responsible

When considering matters from a logical point-of-view, Hamlet can be considered the only individual responsible for crimes occurring throughout the play (the fact that King Hamlet was not killed during the play takes attention away from Claudius' role in the crimes). The Prince listened to advice from a ghost in spite of the religious teachings he came across during his life. Furthermore, he chose to…

Sources Used in Document:

Works cited:

"Hamlet," Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet/

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