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What qualities of Hamlet's character are brought out by his first words in the play?

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preetilall | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 25, 2010 at 12:53 AM via web

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What qualities of Hamlet's character are brought out by his first words in the play?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 25, 2010 at 1:09 AM (Answer #1)

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Hamlet's first words in this play are an aside that he speaks when Claudius refers to him as my "cousin and my son."  Hamlet then says

A little more than kin, and less than kind.

To me, this shows something about him.  It shows that he is an unhappy person.  But, when combined with his next lines, it also shows that he is not decisive.  These first words show he does not like Claudius, but he does not act that way towards the king.  Instead, he denies that he is unhappy and does not let Claudius know what he is thinking.

So we see that Hamlet is someone who is going to be unhappy but will keep it to himself and brood on it rather than acting.

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