The first impressions on Hamlet vary with the audience, as some people see him as a misanthropic character, whereas others see him as a character of dignity, intelligence and sensitivity, also someone beyond his time. The atmosphere he provides though is very distressing, not only towards the audience but towards the characters, especially his rival Claudius. He can be seen as someone who separates the idea of reality and appearance.
Everyone sets the allegiance towards Claudius their king, except Hamlet, when everyone has removed their mourning clothes except Hamlet, who is still wearing his “nighted colour,” and Gertrude asks “Why seems it so particular with thee? ” Hamlet responds to her question by using the word “seems”, which Shakespeare used to represent appearances, and Hamlet says it twice in a single sentence, and he says he cannot pretend, but rather, must be what he is. Shakespeare might have intended to use “seems”, because the idea of appearances is important, as I mentioned, but to show how Claudius might be the antagonist.
His mood shows how misanthropic he can be, but also can be seen as sensitive by other people, as he has taken the ‘forms, moods, shapes of grief’ which are true for him. Though his emotions may seem to be those of an actor due to Gertrude’s viewpoint, he is not acting at all, unlike Claudius or even Gertrude to some extent. Everything in this scene tries to discriminate appearance from reality, but this becomes more definite when Horatio tells Hamlet about the appearance of the Ghost.
In his response to Gertrude’s request that he abandon his grief, Hamlet assures her that he is not one to make “shows of grief . . that a man might play. ” Hamlet asserts that he is not merely costumed in his black attire, nor is he prone to dramatic sighs or profuse weeping. He is genuinely grieved and honestly critical of Gertrude’s and Claudius’ callousness toward the loss of their husband and brother. To Hamlet, all others are making show: ‘I am too much in the sun’. This can be seen as a positive aspect of Hamlet, as he can see the negative outcome of his father’s death, as people in Denmark are suffering, due to Claudius reign and because he is breaking the Bible’s rules.
Claudius’ calculating nature becomes immediately apparent, as he addresses Hamlet as his “cousin Hamlet and my son. “, this can be seen as the idea of Claudius being threatened by Hamlet in every way, yet Hamlet doesn’t accept him as his father, some will say he is cruel at first because Claudius is trying to take care of him, but I would say he is not, he is honouring his father. When Claudius turns on Hamlet and accuses him of “impious stubborness,” he is clearly asserting his position of power over the younger man as well as over his kingdom.
He scolds Hamlet in a manner befitting a concerned parent and a responsible monarch. The act fails to impress Hamlet, but Claudius doesn’t know that his trick hasn’t worked on Hamlet, Shakespeare could be telling the audience, that Claudius is not the hero of Denmark, he might be villain, but Hamlet is the true hero, as he is the only one who is actually respecting his father, embarking the truth and facing reality head on. Claudius further humiliates Hamlet young man’s self-image.
As accusing Hamlet’s characteristics as:”a heart unfortified,” “a mind impatient,” and an “understanding simple and unschool’d,” This could be true for Hamlet, as he is being quite spoiled, yet it is understandable, as he has lost someone close to him. So, we see that Claudius is being very desperate into getting rid of Hamlet’s depression, as this could unravel the truth of Claudius. Claudius even defines Hamlet as inadequate to the task of being king ‘It shows a will most incorrect to heaven’.
This is not true, as Hamlet, has more capabilities than even Claudius for being a king, because he understands what is happening in Denmark and he is also the rightful heir for it. Furthermore, he is sensitive, loving towards people close to him besides Claudius. Hamlet’s worry with hypocrisy surfaces more deeply in his first soliloquy. The fact that his mother has joined in an incestuous union with her husband’s brother less than a month after his father’s death overwhelms Hamlet.
A simple beast without the reasoning skills of a human being would have shown more respect for a dead mate, moans Hamlet. Worse yet, Hamlet must question her judgment. Hamlet sees Claudius as a satyr – a beast-man driven by his appetites – whereas Old Hamlet was Hyperion, the sun god himself. How can he trust a woman who would trade a god for a goat? In addition to his cynicism toward women, Hamlet’s self-portrait begins to emerge in this soliloquy.
When he says that his Uncle Claudius corresponds to his father, King Hamlet, no more “Than I to Hercules,” Hamlet reveals his pacifistic manner. Hercules was a warrior who acted on impulse and charged enthusiastically into battles without questioning the ideology of the fight. Unlike Hercules, Hamlet drowns in words and continually struggles toward understanding. Knowing his weakness, Hamlet criticises his inability to commit suicide, revealing his devotion to the laws of Shakespeare’s religion.
Hamlet refers to Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius as incestuous, however, in history and cultural practices often encourage marriage between a widow and her brother-in-law. But in Elizabethan laws had only just been changed to ban such unions. Hamlet’s pain and embarrassment over his mother’s incest a marriage that tarnishes her kingdom is great enough to make him long for the comfort of death but not great enough to allow him to reject “His canon ‘gainst self slaughter. ”
When Bernardo, Marcellus, and Horatio tells Hamlet of news of the Ghost, Hamlet excitedly questions them as to the details of the sighting and hopes it is true, and that the Ghost is “honest” rather than a “goblin dam’d. ” The Ghost’s misery reinforces Hamlet’s belief that the Ghost is serious. After Hamlet’s conversation with Horatio, Hamlet’s sardonic sense of humour disguises his own aching melancholy and nagging suspicion that some “foul play” is afoot. Overall, we learn a lot about Hamlet in the play, his character is developed, and his journey is about to begin.
People see him as someone who is misanthropic, I do not believe that, he is, misanthropic, but to some extent, yet he is an amiable misanthrope. He is someone who has accepted reality and tries to endure it. Other people see him as sensitive and religious, I do not believe some of that, as he does not respect mother entirely, even though he has a reason, he must not insult her, as she has given him birth. I believe Hamlet is not only a tragic hero, but someone a bit beyond that, someone who people can relate with, a hero for Denmark and someone with human qualities.
This Twitter-based production of Hamlet is the culmination of a series of assignments in the Literature in Digital Media class (English 3212, Spring 2014). A brief summary of the activities: the class was divided into 5 groups and assigned different Hamlet film adaptations. The students in each group were assigned to different acts and had the task of creating memes following the following constraints:
- Memes should:
- use an image from the film (edited, if so desired)
- use text from Hamlet
- have your own text
- strive for humor or wit, or some thought-provoking observation about the play, characters, situation, etc.
The students presented their meme-based play reconstructions in class in Pecha Kucha style presentations and after some feedback were prepared for the week-long (February 3-7, 2014) Twitter performance of Hamlet: The Meme Edition.
And without further ado, I am proud to present the tweeted memes, roughly in the order in they were tweeted.
For the sake of archiving the tweets in their current state, I have created a pdf of this entry (It’s almost 100 pages long. I don’t recommend printing).