The Philosophical Depth of “Hamlet”
There is no more popularity of the play in the history of art and literature than the popularity of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For more than 300 years, this tragedy has been played on the stages of theaters around the world.
People of different cultures are looking for answers to questions that concern them. The secret of this tragedy lies in the philosophical depth and humanistic inspiration of this work, in the skill of a Shakespeare playwright who embodied universal human problems into artistic resentment.
Hamlet’s image is central to Shakespeare’s tragedy. At the beginning of the play, the main goal of this hero is determined – revenge for the murder of his father. According to medieval notions, this is his duty, but Hamlet is a man of modern times, he is a humanist, and cruel revenge is contrary to his nature. In order to make a decision, he needs to weigh well whether the death of Claudius will change anything in the world. Around himself, he sees only treason and treachery. He is disappointed even in his love and remains lonely.
His thoughts on the appointment of a person acquire a tragic coloring (scene in the cemetery). Man is a very weak creature to counteract evil, says Hamlet. The events of the tragedy seem to confirm this reasoning of the hero: Ophelia dies innocently, and evil remains unpunished. Hamlet can’t put up with this, but he doesn’t even have the strength to counteract it. If he becomes a killer, he will go over to the side of evil and thereby strengthen him.
Shakespeare gives Hamlet several opportunities to kill Claudius: Hamlet sees the king praying alone, and he has the opportunity. But the hero does not take a decisive step. In prayer, Claudius atones for his sins, death at that moment was perceived by Shakespeare’s contemporaries as the forgiveness of sins, and the human soul was believed to have flown to heaven.
To kill Claudius at such an instant meant to forgive him for doing evil. This is precisely what Hamlet cannot do. Before our eyes, the hero experiences a difficult struggle between a sense of duty and his own convictions, this struggle leads to the sad conclusion: the whole world is a prison where there is no place for human virtues, where every person is doomed to loneliness.
Hamlet’s monologues reveal the inner struggle waged by the hero. He constantly reproaches himself for inactivity, trying to understand whether he is able to do anything at all. He even thinks about suicide, but even here thoughts about whether the same problems in the other world expect him to stop him (“To be or not to be?”). Duty orders him to “be” and act. Shakespeare shows a consistent development of the character of Hamlet. At the end of the tragedy, the killer of the king was punished, but this happened as a result of a combination of circumstances, and not out of the will of the hero.
It’s not by chance that Hamlet pretends to be crazy: only a very strong person can understand what Hamlet understood and not be crazy.
The power of this image is not in what actions it takes, but in the fact that it feels and makes readers worry. Why a person cannot achieve happiness and harmony, what is the meaning of human life, whether evil can be overcome – these are just the main philosophical problems that Shakespeare raises in his tragedy. He does not give a final answer to them, probably this is impossible. But his faith in man, in her ability to do good, to resist evil – is the way to answer them.