Hamlet: A Character Study

Hamlet: A Character Study


What is a man if his chief good and market
of his time be but to sleep and feed?
A beast, no more.Hamlet is highly educated,
highly analytic, very funny.
Elsinore is show business, it’s showtime.Hamlet is constantly
trying to…
get beyond “show”
to the truth.
He’s an idealist within a world in which
that is, essentially, frowned upon. The great dichotomy that Shakespeare
sets up is that you have a prince, for whom you’d think
freedom and power and the will to do what you want
is second nature to him. But at the same time,
he’s put under such an extreme position through a visitation from the supernatural,
through his father’s death and his grief. He ends up being the big danger
to the state, and actually the one the most watched
and the most feared.When Hamlet’s talking to the audience,
you can take it for granted
that is he giving them a truthful report
about what he’s feeling at the time.
What’s great about the soliloquies is that,
such is the watchedness of this state, where people can’t speak with their minds,
to grant a character six, seven soliloquies where you’re able to say to an audience
exactly how you are feeling. I think that’s why, despite his potential
brutality at times, an audience should still care. I think you do need to get an audience
on side to tell them, “I promise you, I will be truthful.” Much more bewilderingly so for Hamlet
at the beginning is that his mother is remarried so quickly
and with his uncle. The drive of that opening soliloquy
is very much, “How could she do this?” Not only trampling on his father’s memory,
but to do it with his uncle within a month, rather than, necessarily, talking about
how wonderful his father was. A man in his 30s who loses his father. The first time when a parent dies,
it’s the biggest thing in your life.Remember me!In Elsinore, or London, 1601,
take your pick,
ghosts do not appear
in our essentially rational world.
What would it be like
if somebody’s ghost pitched up?
Would you believe a ghost? Even if you did believe a ghost,
if you were not the murdering kind, no matter the sense of betrayal,
sense of righteousness in your revenge, would you kill somebody? He’s known as “the delayer”
within the context of revenge tragedy. If we wrote this play now, he would be just known as the man who was
put in the almost impossible situation – to be told by a ghost
that you should murder somebody. I’d like to take my time! The horrifying effect of seeing a ghost,
of it being his father and his father saying that he was murdered
by his brother, is an awful lot to take in. Instantly, he seems to think “the only way
I will be able to deal with this knowledge, “this new understanding in my life, is not
to try and pretend that it hasn’t happened, “because it will out. “So the only other way to do that?
Just pretend I’m mad!” That way you can do anything,
so that’s what he does. But he then pushes it and pushes it. Every time he does something, there is that
sense of, “Well, is it madness? “Or is it something more sinister,
more pointed?” It’s only when the play is performed that you realise he knows exactly what he’s
doing and then he becomes the danger.

10 thoughts on “Hamlet: A Character Study”

  1. Rory Kinnear such a talented actor, really enjoy the character he potrays on the showtime series Penny Dreadful… would love to see this play

  2. Vacuous nonsense. If anyone cares to understand the subject of Hamlet you have to read. Best book on the subject: HAMLET MADE SIMPLE AND OTHER ESSAYS, New English Review Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9854394-9-1 Take yourself seriously. You deserve to really learn. Good luck!

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