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I have to write a 3-5 page essay for my English class on this topic involving Hamlet:...

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user3884298 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 17, 2013 at 6:04 PM via web

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I have to write a 3-5 page essay for my English class on this topic involving Hamlet:

If Hamlet was running for president, would you vote for him? Why or why not? 

I want to say no because 1, he is too emotional. I don't know what else to write about. 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:20 PM (Answer #1)

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Hamlet would make a better philosopher than a president. Although he is extremely intelligent and extremely thoughtful, he is extremely stubborn. Once he gets it in his head to avenge his father, he acts "mad" and hurts others in the process of his revenge. One might be inclined to vote for him because he is so determined and so philosophical. But, even though he is quite smart, he alienates those around him en route to his revenge. What is even more frustrating is that he postpones this revenge, thereby increasing the destruction caused by his actions and alienating people like Ophelia. 

Consider the comparison of Hamlet's thoughts of killing Claudius with Hamlet's thoughts (as president) of passing important legislation or going to war. On one hand, we would be comforted in the fact that Hamlet would truly think of all angles, whether it is passing a bill or going to war. On the other hand, we should worry that he thinks and procrastinates too much and that he has tendencies of being stubborn. Stubbornness is one of the least effective (and sadly quite common) traits in a politician. It inhibits one's ability to compromise. However, Hamlet's stubbornness could be interpreted as determination. He's determined to do things in the most appropriate way. 

It seems that although Hamlet is super intelligent, his stubborn tendencies and procrastination would make him a single-minded and hesitant leader. With this in mind, I would find it difficult to vote for him. Hamlet is acutely aware of his tendency to be indecisive and this indecision could make him a bad leader. 

In Act 4, Scene 4, Hamlet comments that even Fortinbras, a "delicate and tender prince," is decisive enough to act when the time is right. Hamlet wonders why he, himself, is so indecisive: 

                         How stand I, then, 

That have a father killed, a mother stained, 

Excitements of my reason and my blood, 

And let all sleep while, to my shame, I see 

The immanent death of twenty thousand men

That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,

Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot,

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, 

Which is not tomb enough and continent

To hide the slain. (IV.iv.946-55) 

Hamlet is frustrated with himself that he is not as decisive as Fortinbras who would willingly lead his army although the war seems futile and unwise. Despite Fortinbras supposed bravery (or bravado), here is evidence that would make me inclined to vote for Hamlet. He is indecisive and when it comes to his revenge, he is stubborn. However, he recognizes how serious killing a king is and how serious going to war is. He thinks everything through and while this might make him look weak and indecisive, it necessarily means that he is thoughtful and would only go to war as a last result and only if going to war were worth more than a "trick of fame." Even with killing Claudius, he waits to do it when Claudius' guilt is apparent to the public. Thereby, he does it for the right reasons and has the full support of the public. 

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