What does Hamlet's relationship with other characters in the play demonstrate of the developing ideas of Shakespeare's Hamlet?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The primary aspects of the plot development in Shakespeare's Hamlet, based upon Hamlet and his relationship with other characters, are the growing themes of revenge and suspicion. More than any other, these two aspects of the play seem to drive the plot toward its tragic end.

In terms of revenge, Hamlet learns that his father has been murdered by Hamlet's uncle (Old Hamlet's brother) Claudius. From the moment the ghost of Old Hamlet appears to Hamlet, Hamlet is dogged by the need to avenge his father's death, but drawn back by his fear that the Ghost may not be his father speaking to him from beyond the grave, but an evil spirit sent to trick Hamlet into killing a king, thus losing his soul forever. The Ghost tells Hamlet of his death:

But know, thou noble youth,

The serpent that did sting thy father's life

Now wears his crown. (I.v.43-45)

The man who wears his crown is his brother, Claudius. He then asks Hamlet to avenge his murder, without harming his own mind:

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be

A couch for luxury and damned incest.

But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,

Taint not thy mind... (I.v.87-90)

Hamlet's entire frame of reference is altered with this news. He is torn between killing Claudius without proof (which he needs to show him that the ghost is truly his father's spirit) and finding proof to justify his anticipated action of killing his father's murderer (who happens to be the King). Hamlet has the players reenact his father's murder, intent upon getting his proof:

…the play's the thing

Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King. (II.ii.603–605)

However, while altering the play as a way to get his revenge, Hamlet causes Claudius to be suspicious of him; the King soon decides that Hamlet needs to be dealt with—especially when Hamlet kills Polonius—for the King realizes it could have been him!

It had been so with us, had we been there. (IV.i.14)

Additionally, in struggling to clarify the exact nature of the Ghost's call for revenge, Hamlet is also now confronted with the knowledge that those he once believed were faithful to him—or as harmless as they formerly seemed—may not be trustworthy. Here Hamlet's suspicions grow beyond reason. His mother, so devoted to his father, marries only months after her husband's death; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sell their allegiance to the King to better improve their status with Claudius—turning their backs on Hamlet in the process. Ophelia may well be a pawn of her father, Polonius, who serves the King unwaveringly. Hamlet sees treachery at every turn. Horatio seems to be the only person he can trust. So the young prince is suspicious of almost everyone around him. In this he wrongfully accuses his mother, mistakenly murders Polonious, and drives Ophelia into madness—and in that state, to her death. Though his mother can forgive him, Laertes cannot, and he plots with Claudius to kill Hamlet. Not until Laertes is fatally wounded is he able to see that he was manipulated by Claudius; as he dies, he begs Hamlet's forgiveness.

Throughout the story, Hamlet's promise to avenge his father's death, and his subsequent suspicions regarding those closest to him, drive the plot rapidly toward its tragic conclusion.

manoalsubeai | Student

           I think after the death of Hamlet's father . The relationship between Hamlet and other characters is very bad cuz other characters around him think that he is a mad . Also , Hamlet didn't trust anyone except his true friend Horatio . Although , his mother loves him , but he has misogyny of women cuz his mother remarried after the death of his father in the short time and his beloved Ophelia refused him . In addition , his friends R + G spy on him for his uncle when he send them to him .  


Sorry for any mistake in my language =))