How does Hamlet react to the death of his father in Hamlet?

Expert Answers
kcoleman2016 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet is devastated by his father's death. His grief is encaptured by his anguished cry, released at the first moment he appears alone for the audience: "Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!" (I.ii) He had great love and respect for his father, who was a good and just King. 

What makes Hamlet's grief darker and more insidious is the fact that he appears to be the only one who is grieving. His mother has, two months since, remarried the late King Hamlet's brother, the now-King Claudius. She is also confused by Hamlet's continued grief, gently prodding, "Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off," asking him to literally remove his black and thereby figuratively remove his dark mood (I.ii). Likewise, Hamlet's new stepfather, his uncle Claudius tries to manipulate Hamlet into actually regretting his deep sorrow, explaining "you must know, your father lost a father," and inferring that Hamlet's situation is in no way special. He then shames Hamlet, adding, "to persever / In obstinate condolment; 'tis unmanly grief; / It shows a will most incorrect to heaven" (I.ii). 

Hamlet's inconsolable grief over his father's untimely death is reinforced by the confusingly blasé behavior of those other "mourners" in the Danish court.