In what ways does Shakespeare make use of a character in Hamlet?



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Shakespeare uses the title character in Hamlet to develop the reader’s sympathy.

One example of use of a character is young Hamlet himself.  Hamlet struggles throughout the entire play.  His father has been killed, and he is not sure exactly what to do.  Did he really see his father’s ghost?  Does he have to avenge his father’s death?  Is he losing his mind?  Hamlet struggles with grief, loss, and personal issues throughout the play.

In the beginning of the play, Hamlet’s praises are sung.  He is described as “valiant” in battle (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 13).  The king recognizes Hamlet’s loss, and is perhaps already suspicious of him.  He describes the memory as “green” (Act 1, Scene 2, p. 15).  When the king calls Hamlet his son, Hamlet replies in a witty and not very humble or loving manner.

A little more than kin, and less than kind!  (Act 1, Scene 2, p. 17)

He agrees with his mother that people die, saying it is “common.”  He even decides to stay at the castle instead of returning to his studies.  The new king Claudius wants to spy on him and Hamlet possibly wants to be close to his mother or keep an eye on the king.  From the beginning, the reader (or viewer) is sympathetic to Hamlet and rooting for him, thus making his tragedy all the more dramatic.


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