Upon examining Shakespeare’s characters in this play, Hamlet proves to be a very complex character, and functions as the key element to the development of the play. Throughout the play we see the many different aspects of Hamlet’s personality by observing his actions and responses to certain situations. Hamlet takes on the role of a strong character, but through his internal weaknesses we witness his destruction.
In the opening of the play, Hamlet is confronted by the ghost of his father and told to revenge his “foul and most unnatural murder”. Later on, however, Hamlet begins to doubt the ghost. He then thinks up the Murder of Gonzago to verify the truthfulness of the ghost and also to allow himself more time. After learning the truth, Hamlet still continues to procrastinate the killing of Claudius. Although Hamlet is full of purpose, he lacks the ability to carry out his intentions, and thus allows his character flaw to eventually destroy him. Another characteristic that acts against Hamlet is his excessive melancholiness. Hamlet experiences rejection from his true love, anger from the murder of his father, betrayal from his friends and family, and fear from what lies ahead. These feelings of pain and sorrow are embedded deep inside Hamlet, and eat at him like a terrible disease. Unfortunately, by the end of the play Hamlet has stopped fighting this disease and leaves his future up to fate. As he begins his duel with Laertes he says: “the readiness is all”, meaning that fate will decide the future and if it means death he will accept it.
In connection to Hamlet’s indecisiveness and melancholiness, one has to question his sanity. At the beginning of the play Hamlet seems logical and quick, but this soon fades after Hamlet has his first visitation with the ghost of his father. Hamlet then doubts himself and starts to believe that his eyes have deceived him. After this, Hamlet seems to lose touch with his true self and succumb to his darker side.
Over all, we are able to see Shakespear’s great tragedy in action. We experience the same feelings as the characters do, and thus become involved. Through Hamlet’s complex personality, it is possible to see how he functions in carrying out and maintaining the plot and story line. Although he seems a bit dramatic, he makes this tragedy possible.