In Shakespeare's Hamlet, how is Hamlet manipulative and selfish?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there is a fine line to navigate as to whether Hamlet is manipulative and selfish—where we fall with regard to that line is based upon Hamlet's circumstances. 

One might believe that Hamlet is manipulative because he plays Claudius and his supporters like an instrument, knowing what to do to get the response he is looking for. Ironically, Hamlet says something about this very kind of manipulation to Guildenstern.


Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make

of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know

my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery;

you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my

compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in

this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood,

do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call

me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you

cannot play upon me. (III.ii.348-356)

When Hamlet tells Guildenstern to play a pipe (flute), Guildenstern swears he does not...

(The entire section contains 621 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team