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Why in the story does Hamlet suffer because he is ill-suited to be the protagonist for...

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secund1n0 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:21 PM via web

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Why in the story does Hamlet suffer because he is ill-suited to be the protagonist for a revenge tragedy?

 

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 5, 2012 at 3:26 AM (Answer #1)

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It is established in the gravedigger scene that Hamlet is thirty years old. He has been a student at Wittenberg in Germany for many years and was a student there when his father was murdered and his uncle married his mother and claimed the crown. Hamlet has expressed a wish to return to Wittenberg for even more study. Shakespeare evidently intends to characterize him as a scholar rather than a man of action. When he is faced with the duty of assassinating his uncle King Claudius he is overwhelmed with the logistical problems, the possible repercussions, and the great responsibility. The kind of education that was given at universities like Wittenberg in Hamlet's time was likely to cause a great deal of mental confusion because there was so much argumentation about such matters as philosophy and religion. Hamlet must have known many different languages. He would have had to know Latin and German to get into Wittenberg. He probably also studied ancient Greek. He indicates at the play-within-a-play scene that he is a connoisseur of Italian. He must know English if he is being sent to England as an ambassador. He know Danish of course, and he probably is acquainted with Norwegian and Swedish. He is also probably fluent in French, which was the language of culture. He has spent so much time reading and thinking that his other faculties are impaired. Thinking does not prevent him from acting, but thinking, as Carl Jung emphasizes in his Psychological Types, will prevent him from feeliing--and he has to feel hatred and outrage in order to kill Claudius. He doesn't understand himself, and instead of acting he keeps trying to understand himself.

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