How does Shakespeare portray Hamlet's character?

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Hey there! So for this assignment, I think it would be wise to emphasize diction, particularly because word choice is one of the leading reasons behind Shakespeare's continued relevance. The choice of words is incredibly significant in revealing a character's emotions, motivations, secrets, perspectives, biases, etc. Using specific words as opposed to others allows Shakespeare to develop Hamlet as a character. 

Let me give you six quotations with some brief notes to help you build your assignment. 

  1. "Seems, madam? Nay, it is; I know not 'seems'" (I.ii)
    Development: Hamlet's mourning, relationship with mother

  2. "Frailty, thy name is woman!" (I.ii)
    Development: Hamlet's relationship with mother, perspectives on morality, logical skills

  3. "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so" (II.ii)
    Development: Hamlet's perspective on morality, the development of certainty and uncertainty as a theme and major motivation

  4. "To be, or not to be, —that is the question:—
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them?" (III.i)
    Development: Hamlet's contemplation of suicide and revenge, religious beliefs and mores, uncertainty and doubt

  5. "Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me" (III.i)
    Development: Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia, a potential split interpretation of Hamlet's awareness of the scene and trap set for him, further development of Hamlet's perspective on morality

  6. "Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest" (V.ii)

    Development: Affirmation of Hamlet's suspicions and actions
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In what ways does Shakespeare make use of a character in Hamlet?

Shakespeare uses the title character in Hamlet to develop the reader’s sympathy.

One example of use of a character is young Hamlet himself.  Hamlet struggles throughout the entire play.  His father has been killed, and he is not sure exactly what to do.  Did he really see his father’s ghost?  Does he have to avenge his father’s death?  Is he losing his mind?  Hamlet struggles with grief, loss, and personal issues throughout the play.

In the beginning of the play, Hamlet’s praises are sung.  He is described as “valiant” in battle (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 13).  The king recognizes Hamlet’s loss, and is perhaps already suspicious of him.  He describes the memory as “green” (Act 1, Scene 2, p. 15).  When the king calls Hamlet his son, Hamlet replies in a witty and not very humble or loving manner.

A little more than kin, and less than kind!  (Act 1, Scene 2, p. 17)

He agrees with his mother that people die, saying it is “common.”  He even decides to stay at the castle instead of returning to his studies.  The new king Claudius wants to spy on him and Hamlet possibly wants to be close to his mother or keep an eye on the king.  From the beginning, the reader (or viewer) is sympathetic to Hamlet and rooting for him, thus making his tragedy all the more dramatic.

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