the appeal of HamletI've to write on the title '' the appeal of Shakespear's 'Hamlet' lies primarly in the complex  nature of the plays central character'' what kind of things could i include ,...

the appeal of Hamlet

I've to write on the title '' the appeal of Shakespear's 'Hamlet' lies primarly in the complex  nature of the plays central character''

what kind of things could i include , some ideas ?

9 Answers

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Hamlet is a play that is dominated by its central character, and unlike other plays the focus seems to be pretty much always on Hamlet, and above all, his doubts and indecision. I think one of the appeals to Hamlet as a character lies on his being in an impossible situation and then watching how he tries to resolve it in his own way. Obviously his solution isn´t perfect, but then how would we do any better? What is key, as other editors have noted, is that we have insight into his thinking process and his motives for making the decisions that he does.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The angst of Hamlet is a feeling that many have shared; by reading about a character who has such self-debates, a person experiences some relief knowing that he/she is not alone in having disturbing feelings.  Coupled with the humor of Hamlet and the foolish, prattling Polonius, there is much that appeals to the reader of Shakespeare's play.

kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think part of what dstuva posted earlier is absolutely correct.  If you look at his conversations, they are absolutely hilarious (once you get comfortable with the language of the play, etc.).  I particularly like the scene where he is speaking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern after the Mouse Trap and he suggests that they are trying to play him as they would play a pipe, though they claim to have no knowledge of how to play the pipe.

The humor of his conversation as well as the darker side of it which references the way that people are all attempting to use each other shows two of the great appeals that Shakespeare still has to many people despite the difficult of its language, etc.  It is both funny on a topical level and something that many people relate to on a deeper level.

dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I'll add one more aspect to why Hamlet is appealing.  He gets to play God (according to his beliefs), but then suffers for it.  When he chooses not to kill Claudius while Claudius is praying, because he doesn't want to send Claudius directly to his fate (when his own father is stuck in a world between), he is playing God.  Power like this can be attractive.  Hamlet believes he has another human being's salvation in his own power.  Yet, this leads to his tragic fall.  When he falls, as a result of doing something we at least understand, he raises our sympathies.  We feel bad for him. 

kmcappello's profile pic

kmcappello | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I'd like to offer another reason why Hamlet is appealing.  Rather than make a tough decision, he gets to wallow in self-pity.  Who hasn't wanted to simply curl up in a ball and ignore the world once in a while?  In the same way that a self-deprecating comic makes us laugh hardest, Hamlet's indulgence in this least heroic of personality traits makes him relatable and likable.

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

I agree with what the other have said about Hamlet--the character. Shakespeare is known for his wit and humor in even his darkest of tragedies. One thing I would suggest about the appeal of Hamlet, in addition to what the others have said, is that he is so universally relevant. Is there anyone who hasn’t felt his or her devotion being pulled between parents? Is there anyone who can’t imagine the horror of a parent doing the unthinkable? Hamlet’s character and experience was relevant in Shakespeare’s time and is still so today.

dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Specifically, you need the character traits that make him appealing.  The discussion so far gives you great insight on understanding Hamlet.  In addition to that, you need why we tend to like him.  Hamlet is witty, funny, ironical, and extremely intelligent.  Study his remarks to Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius.  Study his scene with the gravediggers.  Hamlet is hilarious and sharp.  Study his soliloquies.  You'll find an appealing character with a great capacity to reason.  Hamlet is the greatest smart ass in British literature.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Hamlet is a complex character because he is human.  We are all complex, and you must think about why he is feeling and acting the ways that he does.  I always ask my students if they can relate to Hamlet--he is called home from school because his father is dead.  That causes grief enough, but now his mother has married his father's brother.  The ghost of his father shows up to inform Hamlet that his death was not natural, but murder.  Now there are layers of emotion coupled with confusion and the promise he makes to the ghost to seek revenge.    No one alive could go through that without demonstrating some mental instability, but wait!  There's more.  It's like a ginsu knives commercial...Ophelia is a wrench in the works because she loves Hamlet but everyone is telling her to stay away.  Of course, Hamlet cares for her, too, and their combined confusing behavior, along with her own father's death, drive her to her own death.  This, along with the tension between Hamlet and Laertes, creates an even more emotion-filled main character. 

Hamlet is loyal, determined to do the right thing once he has figured that out, intelligent, hurt, angry, confused, irritated by Claudius and all the people he has called to spy on Hamlet, and thoughtful.  I am sure you can add other characteristics to this very complex and intriguing character. 

Good Luck!

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Try writing on some of his characteristics that can be found in all of us, or some that have lasting appeal to almost all cultures around the world. While the character may be complex, try to focus on one or two aspects that you can work with, which would make your paper more manageable. Try to narrow down what precisely makes it appealing for good or for bad.