How is Hamlet led by evil?

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luannw's profile pic

luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

While I think that some of Hamlet's deeds were cruel, I don't think evil is what led him to commit those acts. In Act 3, sc. 4, when Hamlet kills Polonius, his words indicate that he thought it was the king hiding behind the arras and so killing him would have fulfilled his father's ghost's request for vengeance.  Also, in this scene, Hamlet is highly incensed because of Claudius' reaction to the play that Hamlet had the actors perform.  After all, he's just been shown definitive proof, in his mind, that Claudius killed the king, Hamlet's father.  Imagine the hurt, anger, and feelings of betrayal that must be surging through Hamlet at this time.  Overall, I believe it was not evil that led Hamlet to act the way he did, I think it was emotion.  We see Hamlet, from the very beginning of the play, when Claudius and Gertrude both tell him essentially that he needs to get over his father's death and move on, that Hamlet is the kind of person who wears his emotions openly and is guided by them.  His love letters to Ophelia are also proof of how highly emotional Hamlet is. We see constant examples of how Hamlet is led by his emotions. I think the most "evil" act he commits is when he changes the letter that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take to England so that they will be put to death.  I think that is a high price to pay for being pawns in Claudius' game.

gbeatty's profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

My first impulse is to say, "He isn't," and stop. However, upon reflection, I can think of a few areas where he is. When he taunts his mother, he is being crueler than he needs to be. That's evil. When he kills Polonius without checking to see who it is, that's evil. There was no need to kill him. And his emotional pressure on Ophelia helps to break her mind, and that is evil.
But in the main, he's led by duty, not evil.

nipapatel's profile pic

nipapatel | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

no hamlet isnt evil but yes by the behaviour regarding his with ophelia that considered to be the nature of an evil person

but on the other hand he was write by taking the revenge of his father........

ham4hamlet's profile pic

ham4hamlet | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Hamlet isn't led by evil, in fact Hamlet is led by anger and sadness all together. It just seems that the alterative solution to use is evil but really evil has nothing to do with it, it just has to deal with Hamlet's inner emotions.

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