Discuss the following statement:  "We admire Hamlet as much for his weaknesses as for his strengths." Discuss the following statement:  "We admire Hamlet as much for his weaknesses as for his strengths."

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I don't know if it is a weakness or a strength in his character, but I do admire that Hamlet doesn't just hear the story of the ghost and then run amok, assuming that the story is true.  I admire his intent to prove the ghost a true ghost, but at the same time, this intent slows down to non-existent an actual plan to avenge his father's murder by Claudius, and because he doesn't have a real, solid plan, he ends up dead, along with everyone else.  It seems that Hamlet's strengths become his weaknesses and vice versa.

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I agree that "admire" may be too strong a word for how I feel about Hamlet; however, I do feel as if I kind of "get" him. After all, how many times in life have I felt passionately about something and purposed to do it right away, only to slip into inaction and impassivity? Plenty, as have we all. How often have I embarked on a plan which I though might work but it only ends up backfiring on me somehow? How many people have I hurt (though thankfully not killed) by my single-minded focus on something in my own life? Again in Hamlet, Shakespeare proves himself to be a master at capturing the human condition, not just an interesting or random story.

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Renowned critic Harold Bloom describes Hamlet as a villain-hero.  After all, he is responsible for eight deaths.  Yet, there is something very poignant about Hamet that connects to our own humanity. For one thing, he feels intensely and understands the existential absurdity of existence as well as the inexorable force of fate. Highly intelligent, Hamlet deliberates too long, but we forgive him, for he is royalty in both heart and soul--"It is I, Hamlet the Dane."

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This is an interesting statement.  Perhaps, we "identify" with Hamlet.  I am not sure there is much in way of admiration.  Hamlet is a character whose "function is smothered by surmise," one who wantonly abuses Ophelia, and an individual who is trapped by the multiplicity of emotions and desires.  Hamlet is a uniquely modern hero.  Whereas the Classical heroes were ones who waged battle against external forces of evil and possessed a relatively simple dynamic in that enemies and opposition were externally defined, Hamlet's demons are within, his enemies are subjective.  In this light, the modern reader identifies with Hamlet because his struggles are our own.  His constant battle to simply "be happy" is a modern one, demonstrating that one of the most simple of tenets is one of the most difficult.  It is in this light that Hamlet is a symbol of identification, and not so much as admiration.

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