In the play Hamlet, the playwright William Shakespeare discusses Hamlet’s nature as a philosophical, deep thinker provides both rich language and interesting ideas throughout the play. He claims that human nature is ruled through one’s emotions and impulses. Shakespeare explains this idea within the play through the character Hamlet as Hamlet’s decisions are primarily controlled by his anger.
He also informs us that through emotion and trust, manipulation shaped many of the character’s decisions. Furthermore, he states Hamlet’s quest of avenging his father, slowly impairs his sense of morality. Shakespeare’s view of humanity as seen through Hamlet, that human nature is ruled through one’s emotions and impulses.
Firstly, Shakespeare uses thoughts and actions of Hamlet to show that his decisions control by his anger. Audiences see when Hamlet impulsively stabs Polonius through the curtain. This shows audience how Hamlet’s emotions can cut him off of his philosophical and deep thinker nature side.”Oh, from this time forth, My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!” (IV, iv, 67-68) During the scene where Hamlet and his mother are having a heated conversation, Hamlet is speaking so brutally to his mother that Polonius, who is hiding behind the curtain, blurts out in desperation so that Hamlet doesn’t murder his mother. Hamlet so shocked by this spy, screams out, “How now a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead” This is invective, this quote hints his nature are contaminate with anger and despair, kills Polonius. Hamlet allows emotion to provoke him to unthinkingly violent action without a clear evidence of who is behind the curtain.
This uncertainty of who Hamlet has just killed is exposed when Gertrude asks Hamlet who he has just killed and Hamlet in bewilderment asks, “Nay I know not, Is it the King?”. Hamlet was so enraged by this intruder that he acted out of emotion and killed a man because he thought it was the King, his father’s murderer. Little did Hamlet know the pain and misery this blunder of emotion would cause him. This single act of emotion led to the death of Ophelia, Laertes, and himself. William Shakespeare highlights the events in the life of Hamlet to enhance his belief that acting on emotions and impulses are burdensome and destructive in one’s life, and can in turn lead to death. Hence, Hamlet’s decisions are primarily controlled by his anger and despair.Secondly, through emotion and trust, manipulation shaped many of the character’s decisions. Hamlet’s actions were guided by his acknowledgment from the ghost.
It was through this acceptance of what he believed was true, enabled Hamlet to act as he did throughout the play.”Yea, from the table of my memory I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past That youth and observation copied there, And thy commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain, Unmixed with baser matter.” Hamlet’s soliloquy shows how Hamlet’s emotion and trust are Manipulated by king Hamlet’s ghost in the Play. After hearing what the ghost had to say, Hamlet had every right to act emotionally and revenge his father right at that moment. Hamlet in the heat of all this spiteful and malignant news is calm and comes up with a master plan, a plan in which he’ll “have the players/Play something like the murder of his father/Before thine uncle….” And observe his looks.
Hamlet let the truth reveal itself patiently, unlike he did when he killed Polonius, and learned that the ghost’s story was true, giving him justification for seeking revenge. Claudius is the consummate manipulator. In order to keep his crown on the throne of Denmark, he manipulates events, people’s life and relationships.
In this, he makes use of his power, other’s emotion and their trust. Manipulation of people’s emotion and trust are cleverly used by Claudius in his scheme of gaining power and authority. Claudius has put Gertrude, The Queen in total deception.He married the Queen as a strategic move to help him seize the throne away from Hamlet after the death of the King. Without knowing the crime that Claudius has murdered her former husband, Queen Gertrude trusts in Claudius’s feigned motive of saving the nation and agrees to marry him.Claudius also disguises himself as a loving and caring stepfather to Hamlet in order to gaining Gertrude’s love and trust.
For instance,Claudius shows his fictitious love for Hamlet in front of the Queen,”This mad young man but so much our love…”(4,1,20) Claudius shows his concern for Hamlet’s mental illness, but in his true mind, he has lose his patient with Hamlet and having the intention to kill him.Critics generally regard Gertrude as a weak willed, highly dependent on Claudius and easily manipulate by him. Claudius considers Ophelia as a weakness of Hamlet that will tempt him to reveals the reason for his madness. Since Polonius is the father of Ophelia, he has the ability to restrains her daughter to accept Prince Hamlet’s love.
And by doing that to Hamlet, he could easily breakdown and lose his sanity. Claudius has manipulates both Ophelia and Hamlet’s emotion through his subordinate. Thirdly,Hamlet’s quest of avenging his father, slowly impairs his sense of morality. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s behavior slowly progresses, becoming more and more erratic. This can be portrayed in the play when Hamlet gets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed. Hamlet’s indifference towards his two childhood friends could show how his facade is starting to become his true nature and how he is developing into a more uncaring and senseless character.”I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
“In slaying Polonius, he has at last overstepped the bounds which held him back from blood. He will not be squeamish again, and he proves that soon by handing over Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to death. Although Hamlet does not kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with his own two hands, he engineers their deaths by substituting a letter they carry with an order for their executions. The original letter called for the King of England to execute Hamlet on Denmark’s behalf, but with the use of his father’s signet ring, Hamlet is able to alter the commission and send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in his stead. But as the play progresses, Hamlet’s behavior become more erratic. His acting mad seems to cause Hamlet to lose his grip on reality. The circumstances he has to manage emotionally are difficult, to say the least.
Succumbing to physical violence when under extreme stress shows that Hamlet has deeper-set issues than just acting mad. In reflection, Hamlet’s choices and impulses beg the question, what gives him the right to act as such without consequences. In conclusion, William Shakespeare uses the thoughts and actions of the protagonist, Hamlet, to show that human nature is ruled through one’s emotions and impulses. Through the actions and inactions of Hamlet, Shakespeare uses Hamlet as a tool and as a teaching lesson to incorporate his belief of the danger of acting primarily on emotion and impulse.