Is Hamlet a universal democrat or an elitist?Is Hamlet a universal character to which we can all empathise? Did Shakespeare write Hamlet so everybody could put themselves in Hamlet's shoes. Or is...

Is Hamlet a universal democrat or an elitist?

Is Hamlet a universal character to which we can all empathise? Did Shakespeare write Hamlet so everybody could put themselves in Hamlet's shoes. Or is Hamlet for intelligent, educated people only?

If you set aside the democratic fashions of our time for a moment... did Bill The Bard intend Hamlet to be a non-judgemental representation of 'the universal man', or is Hamlet supposed to represent a person of higher intelligence trapped in a world of stupidity???

Is Hamlet a democrat or an elitist?

Expert Answers
kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to think of him as the intelligent guy surrounded by dullards.  There are exceptions, I think Claudius is actually a pretty intelligent dude, he basically just gets out-foxed and somewhat put out by his own guilt at the end.

But the interactions between Hamlet and Polonius, Hamlet and RosenKarl and GuildenLenny (the Simpsons version being one of my favorites) are such wonderful examples of him playing with folks who just can't get their head around his jokes.

Again, Ophelia is an exception, I think she just loses it because she is going to lose it, she is a pretty sharp one too, but gets caught between an idiot and a smart guy and has a bunch of feelings caught up in the mix...

But Hamlet to me is a bit too noble to be the everyman sort, maybe it is just the fancy fencing costume but...

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great question.  I sit on the fencepost of indecision-- I believe Hamlet is both.

Literally, Hamlet is upper crust.  Not many of us are born princes and heirs to throne.  He is indeed lightyears above his comrades in intellect.

However, the circumstances into which he is thrust could apply to the general public.  Even as I type, we all have friends whom we don't trust completely--Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not original in that.  Many have had unstable family lives--deaths, divorces, remarriages, stolen inheritances.  Perhaps we are all just fortunate enough to have one or two friends who love us for whom we are and who always come through in a pinch...Horatio and maybe even Laertes.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet is an intellect caught in a world of fools, simpletons, the gullible, the rash, and the figuratively blind.  The issue of intellect vs all of the above is introduced early in the play when Horatio is referred to as a scholar, and when Hamlet takes a word, seems, that his mother uses casually and unthinkingly and Hamlet expounds on it and demonstrates the weightiness of the word.   Horatio, Hamlet, and Claudius demonstrate intellect, but that's about it. 

nusratfarah | Student
  • Being a prince, Hamlet is for everyone in Denmark. It is not only vengeance or Oedipal nature that leads him to be determined to kill Claudius, it's also about his love for the country. He is a sensible prince, though indecisive.
  • He seems to be friendly to all around him. In fact, his nature is emotional, not like that of a snobbish royal heir.