To Be Or Not To Be, The Tragedy Of Young Prince Hamlet

11 September 2017   20:14 Diperbarui: 11 September 2017   20:58 599 0 0
To Be Or Not To Be, The Tragedy Of Young Prince Hamlet

We are familiar with at least one of William Shakespeare's work. Let's mention Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, or The Tempest. But Hamlet was number one appealing to me when I decided to take a peek of this very thick book contained of Shakespeare materials.

It's very difficult task, honestly, because it's written in old English, its lack of narrative sometimes so confusing (fyi it's in drama script format). Last but not least, English isn't my first language.

Anyways, I'd like to talk about it because it is a great tragedy. Sometimes I can relate to that.

Hamlet story began with the appearance of ghost of Hamlet's father, which led to several murders, also Hamlet death at the end. It's a continuous agony in Hamlet's deep mind due to procrastination of him to finally pay his father's murderer his revenge. Because he can't live with that. He's being sad all the time, he's questioning all things. Because the murderer was, in fact, his uncle. Because the murderer married his mother. He's gone mad.

Hamlet himself was a prince of Denmark who'd been studying abroad,  got home to find his father's dead and his mother got married with his uncle, Claudius, who took the crown and the kingdom.

Hamlet has been represented as brilliantly intelligent and brave. But he has been placed in the most agonizing circumstances that a human being can be placed in (Javed 2013).

He was been so alert and sensitive to accomplish the task of killing Claudius, which was his first conflict with his own inner self. Hamlet's moral conflict got appeared by his plot of attempting suicide. As he was perplexed that his own uncle did murder his father and at the same time his mother has married with that murderer Claudius. But after all he has to take revenge which made him fall into despair and in extreme moral dilemma as his inner heart didnt want to deal with all these incredibly hard and risky steps (Farhana 2016)

The appearance of his father ghost was like apocalypse to him. But he did not instantly do the revenge because he's basically a kind man, he 's not "just want revenge". He is not always certain his pursuit is morally correct.

Hamlet often questions himself and his actions throughout the play in order to make sure that his motives are morally justified. This mode of self-reflection creates an image of Hamletthat makes it difficult to dislike him. Since he is so critical of himself and is unsure of what path is more correct, it is difficult for the audience to dislike his character because he analyzes multiple situations in order to arrive at what he feels is divinely ordained (Vasquez 2012)


There's a play within play in Hamlet story. Shakespeare did depict the direct reference to the tradition with this play within play (Farhana 2016). In this despreration and madness, Hamlet set a drama play named "The Murder of Gonzago" with the same story line of his father's murder case. And he invited Claudius and Gertrude (his mother) to attend. He wanted to see the reaction upon Claudius by seeing the slightest hint of guilty in him.

The certainty of Claudius' guilt made Hamlet furiously angry. He's gone madder. He even burst in to this great anger involving his mother in her closet, killed Polonius (Claudius' advisor) by accident, mistakenly thought it was Claudius been eavesdropping his talk with his mother.  Actually, this was just one murder compared to a total mess in the last scene. But I skip the last scene this time because I'd like to let you find out yourself.

Nevertheless, there's this most beautiful scene, to my opinion. It was when Ophelia (Polonius' daughter) died from drowning herself. Sometimes I can imagine the sea . The scene was then followed by two clowns preparing the grave for her. And Hamlet came asking questions to them and all. It's beautiful.

I can't say they're a lover, Hamlet and Ophelia. But yes, they loved each other.

He once said in the graveyard: "I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with their quantity of love make up my sum. "


Come on take a look of this one of modern version of Hamlet directed by Trevor Nunn (The Old Vic Theatre 2004):


I pick this because it was played by Ben Whishaw. He totally fits the character. This version of Hamlet got very positive review at that time:

"Oh that this too solid flesh would melt" is delivered through tears and snot and I have never heard "To be or not to be" - during which he contemplates knocking back a bottle of sleeping pills - spoken with such freshness and depth of feeling. You seem to be hearing it for the first time.- Daily Telegraph

Played in 2004 with modern costume and young casts, It's an unique version of Hamlet. Even The Guardian said that, at the time, it was deemed by critics to be one of the best Hamlets of all time. It's lovely.

Again, last but not least

Let me recite some passage from Hamlet book itself:


Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced,

No hat upon his head, his stockings fouled ungartered and down-gyved to his ankle,

Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,

And with a look so piteous in purport

As if he had been loose'd out of hell

To speak of horrors

He took me by the wrist, and held me hard,

And, with his other hand thus o' er

His brow, he falls to such perusal of my face as he would draw it

Long stayed he so

At last, a little shaking of mine arm, and thrice his head thus waving up and down

He raised a sigh so piteous and profound

That it did seem to shatter all his bulk

and end his being..

*William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwriter, and actor. Widely regarded as the greatest writer in English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. In the 20th and 21st century his works have been repeatedly adapted and rediscovered by new movement in scholarship and performance.


The Complete Shakespeare with the Temple Notes and the Life of Shakespeare. 1956. Books Inc: New York.

Hamlet: Edited by Cedric Watts. 2002. Wordsworth Editions Limited: Herdfordshire.

Perfect Idealism in Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet. Tabassum Javed. 2013. Jinnah College for Women, University of Peshawar.

Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet: A Study of Hamlet's Pursuit and Procrastination Regarding Revenge. Farhana Haque, M.A. Department of English and Humanities UniversityMohakhali, Dhaka Bangladesh. On IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 21, Issue 9, Ver. 9 (Sep. 2016) PP 55-59

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) on Repression in Hamlet. From The Interpretation of Dreamstranslated by A. A. Brill (1911)

Archive copy of : https://www.psychwww.com/books/interp/chap05d.htm

Laertes and Hamlet's Struggle for Justice. Jeannette Vasquez. 2012. The Journal of the Core Curriculum number XXI ISSN 155-2233.



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