Hamlet - VirtuesI was looking at some past paper questions on the play Hamlet, and one of the questions asked if loyalty was the "one redeeming virtue" in the play. I considered characters such as...

Hamlet - Virtues

I was looking at some past paper questions on the play Hamlet, and one of the questions asked if loyalty was the "one redeeming virtue" in the play. I considered characters such as Horatio, in that he is loyal to Hamlet, and also Hamlet himself in committing to avenge the murder of his father ("that I with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love"). However, I think there are other virtues in the play, but struggled to find any definitve ones. I thought of the following:

Ophelia's beauty, purity, and innocence, as displayed by her language and appearance to the audience

The bravery and determination of Fortinbras.

The Sexton, who seems to take an optimistic outlook on life as well as death and also provides some comic relief.

Polonius - as he arguably does what is best for his daughter and dies trying to find out whether or not Hamlet's madness originates through love ("how pregnant sometimes his replies are" - a subtle reference to ophelia???)

 

Can anyone suggest anymore. I would be really grateful. Thanks.

2 Answers | Add Yours

drmonica's profile pic

drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

I do not read Hamlet as in the least wishy-washy. I believe that he was caught in a terrible dilemma of whether to take revenge on Claudius for murdering Hamlet's father; his filial loyalty and the code of manhood demand it. However, to do so would be to kill his own uncle and his mother's husband, which could plunge the kingdom into political disarray, as well as lead to his own demise. For him to desire to be as certain as he could that Claudius did in fact murder the king is in my opinion a sign of strength, not weakness.

This might sound odd, but I see Gertrude as a symbol of queenly leadership. She is the holder of the keys to the kingdom, literally, through her status as daughter of the king preceding her first husband. I believe that she married Claudius in order to ensure political stability and continue her family's dominance, as well as to hold the throne for Hamlet in the future, as she probably must have been too old to produce an heir for Claudius if she had an adult son already.

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I would say resolute or adamant. Hamlet might have been wishy-washy, but in the end, he was determined to get justice.

fierce, determined, pride, selfishness, etc.

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