“O what a noble mind is here o’erthrown.” These are words spoken by Ophelia in Hamlet by William Shakespeare that highlight the condition of the protagonist himself. Hamlet is a multi-faceted character – as the prince of Denmark he is noble, courageous, valiant and intelligent. Shakespeare presents us with a character that has high moral standards and a sense of spiritual sensitivity. His abhorrence for evil and his contempt for the hypocrisy of the court are illustrated through his quest to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet is an extremely complex character and there certainly is a dichotomy therein. Hamlet’s bravery and nobility are at times, overshadowed by his procrastination and vacillation from action to inertia. Hamlet is unable to act in a decisive manner and this is his hamartia. However, because we admire Hamlet’s moral sensitivity, we tend to accept his behaviour. He gains our sympathy and by the end of the play, Hamlet emerges as one of Shakespeare’s greatest noble heroes; albeit a tragic one.
When we are first introduced to the crestfallen prince in Act 1, Sc.(i), he is not present, however the somber mood and eerie atmosphere set the tone for the whole play. Everyone around him appears to be getting on with his or her lives after the “most unnatural” death of Old Hamlet. Gertrude – Hamlet’s mother (and the queen) has married Claudius – Hamlet’s uncle. Everyone’s newfound happiness eludes Hamlet, whose grief is evident through “his inky cloak” and “customary suits of solemn black.” It is evident that the anomalous murder of his father has had a greater impact on Hamlet that it had on his mother. He praises his father, saying “so excellent a king that was to this Hyperion to a satyr” and expresses his disapproval towards his mother to “post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets.” Despite the misogyny of his first soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his filial loyalty towards his father, underlining the fact that he is guided by his sense of morality – a truly noble and admirable quality in the young prince.
This loyalty is something that is a constant feature of his disposition and when the Ghost appears to Hamlet, he shows his bravery and courage by following it, despite Horatio and Marcellus urging him to do otherwise. The Ghost reveals himself to that of Hamlet’s father – the king Old Hamlet. He tells his son “but know, thou youth, the serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown.” This is an extremely important scene, as we are made aware of that fact that Claudius is the murderer. Hamlet vows to avenge his father’s death and in doing so proceeds to “put an antic disposition on” of feigned madness. Hamlet is of noble extraction and sees Claudius as a threat to the state of Denmark. He recognizes that the “time is out of joint” and feels that he was “born to set it right”. His nobility is perceptible, as Hamlet feels by killing Claudius; he is purifying the whole court and ridding Denmark of evil.
Claudius is the...