Hamlet's Character Traits


"Hamlet" is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare.
Hamlet is the protagonist of the play and is portrayed as a
very emotional soul, a daring, brave character who has a
bad and violent temper.
Hamlet is a very emotional young man. As we all know, his
father's death was a shock for him and he could not get
over it. Claudius mentions that Hamlet was taking the
mourning of his father's death to extremes:
"To give these mourning duties to your father; 
 But you must know, your father lost a father; 
 That father lost his, and the survivor bound 
 In filial obligation for some term 
 To do obsequious sorrow." 
The King is telling Hamlet that death is only natural and
that Hamlet's father lost his father too. He is informing
Hamlet that he is mourning too much for his deceased father
and he should try to get over it. Another example of
Hamlet's emotions getting the better of him can be seen
when he is reminiscing his father's death. Hamlet says,
"...How stand I then,/That have father killed, a mother
stained,...2". He is asking himself what kind of a person
he is if he can allow his father to be murdered and his
mother to be married so soon after his father's death to
his uncle. This shows us that he is pitying himself and is
putting himself down. Yet another example of his emotions
running wild are seen in his first soliloquy:
"...She married. 
 O, most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to
incestuous sheets! 
 It is not, nor it cannot come to good. 
 But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue" 
He is telling us that his mother has married right away and
did not mourn for his father's death. He tells us that the
marriage is not good and nor can this marriage between
Claudius and Getrude come to any good. He wants to express
his true feelings to his mother, but since it will hurt
her, he must be silent for the time being. This shows us
that he has a great and deep love for his mother. He will
not say or do anything to hurt her, even though what she is
doing is wrong.
Hamlet is also a brave and daring character. There are
several examples of his fearless attitude. The first
example occurs when the ghost visits Hamlet, Horatio and
Marcellus. Here Hamlet is determined to meet the ghost:
"If it assume my noble father's person, 
 I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape 
 And bid me hold my peace." 
Hamlet wants to speak to the ghost, even though it might be
a demon instead of his father's spirit. 
Another example of his bravery is portrayed when he
actually sees the ghost:
HAM. It will not speak. Then I will follow it.
HOR. Do not, my lord!
HAM. Why, what should be the fear? 
Hamlet is not afraid to follow the ghost and speak with it,
despite the fact that Horatio is telling him not to go. He
asks Horatio why he is stopping him and what is there to be
afraid of. Another significant incident that brings out
Hamlet's daring character is when he arranges for the
players to perform "The Murder of Gonzago" to find out
whether or not the King is guilty of his father's murder.
Hamlet's plan is, "...The paly's the thing/Wherein I'll
catch the conscience of the King. 6" He decides to use the
play to test the King's conscience and if the King seems
nervous or behaves strangely he will know his course from
there.(To do what the apparition told him. Get revenge.)
Hamlet also has a bad and violent temper. This is expressed
when the meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia goes sour:
...You jig, you amble, and you lisp; you nickname God's
creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to,
I'll no more on't! it hath made me mad. 7
Here he is upset with Ophelia and insults her and tells her
that she names things according to her own fancy and then
acts as if her own willfulness is ignorance. He says that
he has had enough of it and this has made him angry.
Another scene where he expresses his anger is immediately
after killing Polonius and shouts at his mother:
"Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear 
 Blasting his wholesome brother. 
 Have you eyes? Could you on this fair mountain leave to
 And batten on this moor? 
 Ha! have you eyes?" 
He is telling Gertrude that her new husband is nothing like
Hamlet's biological father. How could she leave him after
his death and marry Claudius? Can't she see what she is
These are three of Hamlet's character traits as seen in
Shakespeare's Hamlet. I feel that all these character
traits are important, but the most significant one is the
portrayal of his brave and daring character. I feel that
this character trait is the most significant because if
Hamlet had not met with the ghost or set up "The
Mousetrap", the play would not have been where it is now
since he wouldn't know what happened to his father. 
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. U.S.A.: Washington Square
Press, 1958.


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