Essay On Shakespeare Hamlet

In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, words and language are especially revealing about the real nature of the characters, and the hidden meaning behind their words.

A person's linguistic range and style is often a powerful reflection of that person's nature, it is important to examine these qualities carefully in order to understand the true personality of a literary character. In the case of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, words and language are especially revealing about the real nature of the characters, and the hidden meaning behind their words.

Shakespeare skillfully merged dramatic form and linguistic variety, using words and language to convey the unique qualities of each character. Hamlet more than any other character acts as the true voice of Shakespeare because Hamlet and Shakespeare share many common characteristics. For example, both are full of high enthusiasm and intelligence; both are creative and tortured by the depths of their emotions. These qualities are depicted through both the author's and the character's choice of words. However, the primary difference between them is that Shakespeare is extremely adept at expressing his true emotions on paper, while Hamlet is not so easily able to express himself verbally. For example, he feigns indifference towards Ophelia despite his obvious passionate feelings for her, while, contradictions between what Hamlet says and what he feels are frequent. An illustrative instance is the meeting with Ophelia while his uncle and Polonius are eavesdropping behind a curtain. Hamlet's affection for Ophelia has already been recognized and his complete rejection of her and what has transpired between them is an obvious attempt to use his words as weapons. It is almost as if he has a quiver full of insults which he pulls out as an archer would take out an arrow, firing it with decisive aim and conviction. Yet, because his words are so far off target from his emotions, they essentially die in midair.

We must also take into consideration that when Shakespeare makes a statement that refers to something we only know by description, the statement he intends to make is usually not in the form involving the description, but about the actual interpretation we make based on those expressions. Specifically, if we view Hamlet as a manifestation of his words rather than his thoughts, we create an entirely different picture of the character in our own minds. We are attempting to make the same supposition that Hamlet alone can make, that is to say, the judgment of which he himself is the key component. For example, when Hamlet yells at Ophelia to "Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?" (3.1.122) he is using the language of an antagonist as a shroud to his true feelings.. It would likely appear to the observer that there is great hatred in Hamlet for Ophelia, however he is using the power of words to circumvent the power of his emotions. So in a way, it's what he doesn't say that tells us the most about his character.

Additionally, Shakespeare uses language in Hamlet to make sure that we are initially misguided in our conceptions. Hamlet's character is quite vague at the onset of the play, and his language is equally ambiguous. This is in part because Shakespeare was aware that different people's conceptions of the same thing can also be quite dissimilar. By leaving many assumptions open-ended, the character is then open to a variety of interpretations.

This is also true for Ophelia, who can do nothing but sing following the death of her father. She appears to be as incompetent as Hamlet is at expressing difficult emotions through words, yet she is also much more self-aware than Hamlet is. In Act IV, Ophelia conveys to her brother Laertes the following sentiments: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts". He then replies, "A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted. Thought and afflictions, passion, hell itself, She turns to favor and to prettiness (4.5.179). This is Laertes' way of disparaging sentiment. Laertes says what he means and means what he says.

Successfully communicating the description of a character, despite the various assumptions already resting in our minds, depends almost solely upon being able to differentiate between the true proposition and the assumption that the proposition described is accurate. When trying to uncover the "real Hamlet", even when the proposition is both accurately described and acknowledged as truth, we are not necessarily familiar with the proposition itself, even if we believe it to be true.

Regardless, there is always the possibility that a message from the author spoken through the voice of a character does have a determinate meaning. If this concept can be deemed truly functional, then it only makes sense that while a character does need to have descriptive or predicative content associated with it, it is still cannot be tidily enclosed within the conventional structural aspects of language. Without careful scrutiny of the use of language in Shakespeare', new visions or points of view will not arise. A character's true nature is highly reflective of his or her linguistic range and manner. Consequently, Shakespeare defines the characters of Hamlet not only through his words of description, but through the words he creates for them to say.

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