how are we not all hamlet? provide quotes from the play hamlethow are we not all hamlet? provide quotes from the play hamlet

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course we are all Hamlet; sometimes I wish I were more like him.  Who wouldn't want to be able to have his quick wit that he displays with Polonius and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  Usually I think of quips or comebacks long after the time for them has passed.  I particularly admire Hamlet's query to Rosencrantz (or Guildenstern) : "Can you play upon this pipe, sir?"  I would give anything to be able to make the analogies that Hamlet makes.  I admire the way he mocks Polonius without Polonius even knowing it.  I admire the way Hamlet can recite lines from a play that he has heard before and the way he can make references to the bible, Greek and Roman mythology.  I would love to have Hamlet's sensitivity, intellect, knowledge, and position.  I would not like to have his conflicts.  I would love to be able to make such deductions as "What a piece of work is man." 

But yes, Hamlet represents us all.  He represents some of the finest parts of human nature in a most difficult situation, situations that we can relate to.  When he refers to Claudius with such contempt and helplessness--well, I think almost all of us have been in such positions of being subordinate to those we do not respect.  We have been frustrated by our parents' decisions. Our lives have been derailed by circumstances beyond our control. We have seen corruption in high places.  We have, in our own way, had to come to terms with what it means to be mortal. 

jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because three people here at the Question and Answer section of enotes have asked this same question, I assume it was assigned by the same teacher. Let this answer, then, be for all three of you and for anyone else who was similarly given this question and have come here seeking an answer.

From my point of view, it must be a trick question. Other than the fact that Hamlet is a fictitious character, he is very human and therefore not that much different from the rest of us. Indeed, the very fact that Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest and yet most translated and arguably most famous play is ample testimony to what a universal character the Prince of Denmark is. For who among us does not feel, at least at certain times, over-burdened or too obsessive? Who among us doesn't procrastinate or isn't given over to self-doubt? Who among us has never questioned our own motives and felt contempt for those around us? Which of you has tried your best to do the right thing yet found it a complicated task and difficult to accomplish in just the right way? And who has not been lied to and schemed against, wrongly judged and too little loved? Any of you?

No, folks: as Hamlet says he is "too much i' the sun" so is he all too human, and being so, he is just like the rest of us mortals.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The renowned Shakespearean critic, Harold Bloom, wrote that Shakespeare's principal characters "have become our mythology, and he, rather than his involuntary follower Freud, is our psychologist."

Truly, we do identify with the "mythological" Hamlet in his angst.  We, too, suffer "The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."  We, too, have deliberated on the actions we must take, weighing them against what we stand to lose.  And, at times, sadly, "conscience doth make cowards of us all" as we must go along to keep our jobs, protect our families, etc. rather than express our outrage at "outrageous fortune."

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet is intuitive and dramatic.  He loves Ophelia and his friends; but he finds he must let Ophelia go and he learns his friends have, at loeast to some degree, betrayed him.  He makes big plans but can't always see them to fruition.  He is quick-witted, agile, and likeable--all things I wish I were better at.  Like all characters in literature, we find we either want to be more like them (or have them be our friends) or we want to be nothing like them.  Hamlet is a flawed human being.  Aren't we all?

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