I have to write an essay about Sense of Self and have to explain Hamlet; how would you describe the sense of self about Hamlet?Self of Sense means people have their own values, characteristics,...

I have to write an essay about Sense of Self and have to explain Hamlet; how would you describe the sense of self about Hamlet?

Self of Sense means people have their own values, characteristics, ambitions, qualities and personality. How they quest to resolve conflicts or problems, and how each of them faces the end of results is also part of Self. How would you describe this about Hamlet?

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lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question is a mammoth one, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of pages of literary criticism written on the subject of Hamlet’s character.  In order to help you get a handle on the task I would suggest you brainstorm two or three adjectives that you think apply to Hamlet’s character and then look for textual evidence to support that conclusion about his character – or Sense of Self- as your question prompts.  Some suggestions: intellectual, melancholy, morbid, reflective, moral.

The other suggestion I would make is to take a thorough look at each of Hamlet’s major soliloquies because these are some of Hamlet’s most honest comments about himself and his view of the world.  He talks about many of the topics that you have listed in your question.  In the first soliloquy he talks about his want to just die, or at least disappear, and he talks about how awful the world is right now.  In the next soliloquy he berates himself for his lack of action and calls himself a coward.  The next soliloquy is the “To be or not to be” soliloquy and it is here that we see his philosophical view of action and inaction/life and death.  The final lines, in particular, reveal a lot about why he has not taken action against Claudius.  The last significant soliloquy is the one he gives after seeing Fortinbras’s men as they off to fight for worthless land in Poland.  This sight causes further introspection, but ends in a statement of intense motivation: “My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!” 

You just need to get some focus to your ideas and go from there – you can’t possibly say everything you might even like to say about Hamlet’s character.  I good essay will have a manageable, arguable thesis statement and excellent textual support with appropriate analysis.  Good Luck!

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Something else to consider is at the very beginning of the play when Hamlet sublimates his own wants and desires to please his mother and Claudius. Hamlet had been away studying, and when he wanted to return Claudius convinced him to forgo that action because his mother wanted him to stay near. This of course was necessary to advance the plot, but it also required Hamlet to deny something that was truly important to him. How did this affect Hamlet? How did this change the course of Hamlet's life?

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