If he had lived, would Hamlet be a great king?Please explain why he would or wouldn't.   Shakespeare's Hamlet

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After much torturous self-examination and deliberation, Hamlet finds within himself that which makes royalty when he witnesses the burial of Ophelia.  In Act V, scene i, he declares, "This is I, Hamlet the Dane."  There is, in Shakespeare's play, a close connection between the political and the personal.  In addition to this motif, Hamlet feels the hand of Fate in his life.  His statement

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will. (5.2.10-11) 

indicates that he feels an intersection of free will with fate. That is, Man "rough-hews" his choices while divinity assures that individual choices follow the path that they should. 

So, would Hamlet be a great ruler?  Claudius ruefully remarks that Hamlet is loved by the Danish people.  Certainly, Hamlet embodies a heroic vitality as evinced in the final act.  He is a deliberative, not rash in most decisions.  Yet, critic Harold Bloom calls Hamlet "a dialectic of antithetical qualities," a villain-hero, who is responsbile for eight deaths,  Hamlet is "a dance of contraries":  a man who thinks too much, a man who cannot make up his mind, a man who is too good for his world. Thus, the answer is no, Hamlet would probably not be a great king, for great kings have less intensity of feeling than Hamlet and are objective and capable of decision; they are men of the world.