Passionately recommended by a majority, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is deemed credible, intricate, and intellectual by readers of all professions. In fact, not only is Hamlet said to be Shakespeare’s greatest work, but it is often titled the greatest playwright of all time as well. Intermittently, however, do people recognize the fundamental flaws of the play.
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Hamlet’s lack of character development, sloppy structure, and an odd similarity to another Elizabethan tragedy—The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd— all prove that Hamlet does not even come close to living up to the credibility and extensive publicity assumed by many readers of Hamlet.
The character of Hamlet is praised for his deep, analytical thought and his complexity of emotions, but Hamlet is nothing more than an unstable, emotional ruin; in fact, all other characters in the play follow this lack of complexity too. There is not a single character in Hamlet who develops and becomes a round character. Throughout the entire play, Claudius remains an apathetic and corrupt villain, continuing his role as an antagonist. Claudius’s character can be summed up by his orders to Horatio to stay close to Ophelia, saying “Follow her close, giver her good watch, I pray you.” (IV.V.75). This quote shows Claudius’s untrusting and scheming attitude. Horatio remains hesitant and cautious, making no dramatic decisions to better any given situation in the playwright. Ophelia and Gertrude are discarded of through death, and are arguably the characters with the most power, even though they are given the least attention. Although these women voice their conscious through reckless acts such as suicide, Ophelia drowning herself in a lake and Gertrude drinking a cup of poison, they remain silenced and hopeless throughout the play.
The most complex line Reynaldo has is reminding Polonious where he left off speaking, saying, “At ‘closes in the consequence,’ at ‘friend or/ so,’ and ‘gentleman.’” (II.II.52-53) Polonious, although he can be considered the most insightful of the characters, is still a flat character in that his careless nature results in the demise of himself and other characters—his intentions from the beginning. Even Hamlet, who is believed to be the main protagonist, remains ignorant and rash throughout the playwright. Hamlet’s famous line, “To be, or not to be,” (III.I.56) is only grasped by the human mind when context is revealed, whether it is related to the play or the reader, otherwise, this quote is simply a conglomerate or gibberish. The only difference from Hamlet’s initial outbursts of careless and destructive emotion after learning about the ghost of his father to the hasty duel scene is that Hamlet becomes justified in his ignorant decisions.
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