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What are some of Hamlet's internal conflicts?

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karrar | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 29, 2008 at 3:03 PM via web

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What are some of Hamlet's internal conflicts?

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 29, 2008 at 10:01 PM (Answer #1)

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Hamlet appears to struggle with a sense of self-doubt. This is seen in his struggle with acting on his plot of revenge. Hamlet has vowed to avenge his father's murder, but for much of the play he does not act on it. This causes him to struggle with himself. At times, he curses his inability to act. Hamlet is more of a philosopher than an action oriented man, he tends to think things through and wonder at what motivates action than actually going through with something.

Hamlet seems to struggle with depression, as well. His thoughts on the people in his life, and life itself, are often dark and negative(although-rightly so at times!).


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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 30, 2008 at 12:50 AM (Answer #2)

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There is a great Literature 101 "class" on eNotes right now - entirely free and open to anyone - that is really getting into "Hamlet."  Lots of great discussion and details that might help you with your study of this play.  Check the link below to find the lessons and discussion questions - Good luck!

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kirstens | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 1, 2008 at 7:40 AM (Answer #3)

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The obvious internal conflict is his fear of action; this results from his fear of making mistakes.  He wants desperately to avenge his father's death, but questions whether or not the ghost is truly his father.  Because of this question, he suffers from inaction - his failure to make a move.  He compares himself to Fortinbras who can make a decision and act almost instantly, and this causes him considerable angst. 

He is also struggling internally with his love for his mother.  On the one hand, he truly loves his mother; on the other, he despises her for marrying so soon after the death of his father.  He wants her full attention, but is revolted by her sexual exploits with Claudius.  Much internal struggle there!

He is also having trouble dealing with Ophelia's betrayal.  Again, he loves her, but is disgusted by her behavior - her refusal to keep his tokens of affection and her unwillingness to be honest with him.  For all of this, he reacts violently and cruelly - only to find out later that he has made a grave mistake. 

In all, Hamlet is suffering internally.  His father, mother, uncle, and lover have all caused him to doubt his own decision-making, and for this he is thrown into terrible fits of depression.  

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