Hamlet - Character Analysis


hamlet play character analysis and quotes
Jess Watts
Slide Set by Jess Watts, updated more than 1 year ago
Jess Watts
Created by Jess Watts about 8 years ago

Resource summary

Slide 1

Slide 2

    complexity of character = makes him relatable/more like a real person > contradicts every action and moral words = central to his characterisation > used as weapons and defence as well as for deception BUT also his root flaw > makes him indecisive  wants desperately to be more like father > honour shows himself as devout man > can't kill himself and struggles w concept of killing others and is v against Getrude's sexuality  has overall bad relationship with women > loves Ophelia but verbally abuses her > disgusted by Gertrude > in love w mum? philosophical and obsessively contemplates every action > contradicted by killing of Polonious and Rosencrantz and Guillernstern > feels no remorse and is impulsive  his madness = key to understanding play > uses madness to avoid suspicion or is he actually mad? hates deception but pretends to be mad and plots against Claudius  extremely melancholy about dad, state of Denmark and family in general > contemplates suicide and own death

Slide 3

    Hamlet - Quotes
    'Seems? Nay, it is, I know not seems' - Act 1 Sc 2 >  implies she's pretending grief  Oh this too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into dew' - Act 1 Sc 2 > images of decay/suicidal tendencies 'Fragility thy name is woman!' - view of women as deceptive/weak > misogyny themes 'oh villain, villain, oh damned smiling villain' - view of Claudius  'there is nothing neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so' > ironic 'what a piece of work is a man! ... in apprehension, how like a god! yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?' > doesn't see point in life/see himself as 'real man' > how he seems humankind > shows motif of obsession w physicality of death > 'apprehension [thought]' = relates to inaction v action > thinking=what humans are good at 'the play's thing thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king' > using deception of a play to get truth 'get thee to a nunnery [brothel]' - to ophelia > a sexist? 'to be or not to be - that  is the question, whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them?'  suicide and death > is it better to live and suffer to end it all > whole sillioquy = Hamlet trying to find religious reason to kill Claudius and then to philosophical q's > don't give him any answers 'Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought'  > theme of inaction v action and obsession w thought > how fear of death/ambiguity of afterlife = makes people not commit suicide 

Slide 4

    main antagonist  second husband to Gertrude  killed his brother to get Queen and his position > poured posion in ear > posion = ironically how he dies  politician-like > manipulates words to create schemes that people agree to > speech = compared to poison in ear > like how he murdered Old Hamlet although on the throne his hold is tenuous at best > knows it and so tries to get rid of Hamlet  seems to genuinely love Gertrude  shows guilt for killing brother but won't apologise > willing to take responsibilty > forces audience to like him contrasts other male characters as they're all concerned with moral justice and revenge where as Claudius is only concerned w maintaining own power Hamlet and Claudius mirror each other (like in most Shakes plays) > both believe end justifies means and sacrifice humility to achieve goals  ultimately seen as antagonist bc he murdered and lied > not sorry for it > Hamlet did murders in open and suffers morally

Slide 5

    Claudius - Quotes
    'my words fly up, my thoughts remain below; words without thoughts never to Heaven go' described by Hamlet as: "...smiling damned villain" "Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death the memory be green, and that it us befitted to bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom to be contracted in one brow of woe, yet so far hath discretion fought with nature that we with wisest sorrow think on him together with remembrance of ourselves." - emphasises self preservation and shows Old H as past tense > trying to get rid of his memory > manipulative nautre  "The harlot's cheek beautied with plast'ring art is not more ugly to the thing that helps it than is my deed to my most painted word." - recognises his lies will catch up to him > sexist view of women of being deceptive = eerily similar to H's "O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; it hath the primal eldest curse upon 't, a brother's murder." - recognising his sin of fratricide > referring to story of Cain in Bible 

Slide 6

    has little characterisation in play > can only go off what others say  cares deeply for Hamlet > Ophedius complex? greatest q's about Gertrude = whether she knew about Old Hamlet's murder and if she was in love w Hamlet Ghost describes her as if she's not completely innocent but sill tells Hamlet to leave her alone > sill unsure as reader never opposes Claudius to protect Hamlet > even after H's speech to her > loyalty w Claudius? drinks wine that would have killed H > on purpose? > final act = act of defiance against Claudius > true alliance = w son? v dependant of affection and protection of men > why she married again? > morally frail > wanted to keep power?

Slide 7

    Gertrude - Quotes
    "Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off, and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark [Claudius] do not for ever with thy vailèd lids seek for thy noble father in the dust. Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity." - telling hamlet to stop grieving > says loosing parents is common > context  "Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet. I pray thee, stay with us. Go not to Wittenberg." > wittenburg = root of Protestantism > wants h to stay so he doesn't spread about about Claudius? 'QUEEN GERTRUDE Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended. HAMLET Mother, you have my father much offended.' - not his real dad > reminding her of her loyalties? 'KING Gertrude, do not drink. QUEEN I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me ... QUEEN Come, let me wipe thy face.' - directly disobeying king = shows her true loyalties lie w H > her dying by Claudius' schemes = show how his actions have consequences > shows her as caring mother > 'wipe thy face' 

Slide 8

    have to assess character based on other people words and her actions rather than what she says (bc Shakes wrote part for a man) love interest of Hamlet's  conforms to contemporary womanly role of obeying men around her female double for Hamlet > takes his traits to extreme > Hamlet's half madness and his obsession w suicide  torn between being dutiful daughter/sister and renaissance idea of being true to her heart/love for H > has no mother to guide her makes decision between two worlds when involved in Polonius/ spying on Hamlet and her's interaction > made for her?  seen as an eternal virgin/vessel of morality by dad and brother seen as sexual object by Hamlet who is a corrupt and deceitful lover dilemma of two worlds sends her into madness > after dad dies she has no one to control her > says how she truly feels? 

Slide 9

    Ophelia - Quotes
    "I shall obey my lord" - to dad > knows she should value what she can do family through marriage rather than actual love Hamlet says to her: "Get thee to a nunnery" > distain towards women > all the same
Show full summary Hide full summary


Macbeth Act One - scene summaries
Ashleigh Huddart
Romeo & Juliet Quotes
Lucy Hodgson
How does Shakespeare present villainy in Macbeth?
The Tempest-Learning quotes
Macbeth Notes
Bella Ffion Martin
Macbeth Essay Notes
Mel M
An Inspector Calls Revision Notes
Noor Sohail
Othello Quotes
The Tempest
Dirk Weibye
The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team
Summer Pearce