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Do you think Hamlet is "honorable" for his actions throughout the book? e.i  killing...

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thekid22 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 27, 2011 at 12:37 AM via web

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Do you think Hamlet is "honorable" for his actions throughout the book? e.i  killing his friend, and all his actions.

this is a question I have to write an essay on in my college english class. if anyone has an awnser please try and explain your thoughs fully. im really having a hard time with hamlet

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anniecarina | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 27, 2011 at 1:40 AM (Answer #2)

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Maybe "honourable" is not the word I would personally use. In comparison to the traditional idea of what it means to be honourable he perpaps does not fall into that category; he isn't really heroic in the typical sense of the word. He talks a lot about avenging the death of his father but never gets round to doing so until instigated by the wills and actions of others characters, he treats Ophelia badly but mourns her when she is dead and it is too late. He is only able to make the first step towards action by killing Polonius (mistaking him for Claudius) by stabbing him behind an arras- i.e. he is unable to look the man he is killing in the face (not very honourable). It is this accidental killing that triggerst the rest of the plot which she sees virtually every character dead.

However, he is also a realistic character by his very inability to take action. He struggles with the moral and ethical issues of killing another human being and he undergoes much psychological torment as a result.

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shaketeach | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted June 27, 2011 at 3:32 AM (Answer #3)

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This is an extremely complex question.  As the son of a murdered father, Hamlet is "honor bound" to avenge his father's death. Hamlet also lives in a religious world, in this case, Roman Catholic. Thus the conflict.  In order for him to do what is expected by society he must commit a mortal sin.

For Hamlet to avenge his father's death and not lose his soul is his conflict and reason for his inaction.  First, he must find out if it was truly his father's spirit and not the satan tempting him to an action where he will lose his soul.

He feigns madness.  He uses this in the hope he can discover the truth.  One can ask the question, does he actually slip into madness?  It is a valid question.  One could argue that his single mindedness of purpose is the reason for his subsequent actions.  He is focused on his desire to kill Claudius and retain his own soul and as a result, he is the cause directly or indirectly of the deaths of Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to name just a few.

If, as his best friend Horatio says at his death, that flights of angels accompany Hamlet to heaven, we can only hope that he is admitted. His situation is very much like Orestes in the Orestia.

Did he behave with honor?  His avenging of his father's death was an honorable action according to the world he lived in but that world was also a world of christian morality and Hamlet has a lot of blood on his hands.  If I were Hamlet at the pearly gates, I'd plead insanity.

 

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thekid22 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM (Answer #4)

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Thank you both for these amazing awnsers. This has helped me alot. I will let you both know how i did on my paper

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thekid22 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 28, 2011 at 12:29 AM (Answer #5)

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and i have one more for the both of you. My teacher gives us this statement i want to know how you both feel about it " Honor, as defined in Hamlet, is a balance between thought and action" how do you feel about this statment.

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