In Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet, the character of Hamlet has come to symbolize the person, whose thoughtful nature is an obstacle to quick and decisive action. "Character is destiny," means that plot should grow out of the characters themselves.
The only way, if there is any way, in which a conception of Hamlet's character could be proved true, would be to show that it, and it only, explains all the relevant facts presented by the text of the drama. The fact that Hamlet spares the King when he finds him praying, is, from its effect on the hero's fortunes, of great moment; but the cause of the fact, which lies within Hamlet's character, is not so. Hamlet is described as introspective and thoughtful, as well as self-doubting and not certain of his own rightness. He is intelligent. It is not only in his famous soliloquies that Hamlet speaks about who and what he is, but his progressive self-doubt and isolation mean that until he has decided upon action at the end of Act IV, his soliloquies are the most important vehicle for the expression of his true, rich personality.
Shakespeare saw at once how consistent it was with the character of Hamlet, that after still resolving, and still deferring, still determining to execute, and still postponing the execution, he should finally, in the infirmity of his disposition, give himself up to his destiny, and hopelessly place himself in the power, and at the mercy of his enemies.
Hamlet dares us to "pluck out the heart of my mystery." (3.2.350) This mystery marks the essence of Hamlet's character as, in spite of our popular psychologies, it ultimately does for all human personalities. Ophelia tells us that before the events of the play Hamlet was a model courtier, soldier and scholar, "The glass of fashion and the mould of form, / Th' observed of all observers." (3,1,153-4) With the death of his father and the hasty, incestuous remarriage of his mother to his uncle, howe... Continue Reading