“Mad as the Sea and Wind When Both Contend”

A common misperception is that the circumstances do not victimize the character studied in this paper, but rather that the character has full control over their actions. This essay will argue against this misinterpretation and look at the extent of which Hamlet is a victim of circumstance. In Hamlet, Shakespeare shows the decline of Hamlet’s wellbeing through his inability to cope with the uncontrollable circumstances that he is faced with.When Hamlet tries to take control of his circumstances, the decisions that he makes and the relationships he has with Gertrude, as well as his beliefs in the court and in religion do not work in his favour. Ultimately, Hamlet cannot control his circumstances and in the process of attempting to do so, his impulsive actions hurt himself, his family, his friends and his love interest.Hamlet’s actions are impacted by the circumstances he faces and the limited control he has over these actions do not work in his favour because his impulsive nature affects the decisions he can make to be geared more towards a brutal murder rather than giving Claudius his retribution. He does not have control over his father’s death and his mother’s remarriage, thus he shows his disapproval of the marriage through his views that women are frail and weak. These views are strengthened after his conversation with the ghost.Hamlet is told that Claudius is the mastermind of this murder, thus this circumstance propels him to break his relationship with Ophelia because he believes all women are like his mother – unfaithful and will eventually betray him. The loss of Ophelia impacts Hamlet strongly as he willingly destroys the last connection he has with his sanity; he no longer seeks love and his only desire is to avenge his father and kill Claudius. The ghost wishes for Hamlet to “bear it not/let not the royal bed of Denmark be,” but does not specify an order to murder (I. . 81-82). Hamlet’s control over his portrayal of the conversation with the ghost drives himself to madness. He stabs Polonius, who is eavesdropping behind the curtains, because he believes him to be Claudius. This is out of his control because Polonius is now lifeless, thus branding him a murderer similar to Claudius; nevertheless, Hamlet’s insanity disregards this fact and he tells Claudius to “seek him I’ th’or place [him]self” if “[his] messenger find him not” in heaven (IV. iii. 35,34). Hamlet’s irrationality sets him straight on killingClaudius and he cannot see his own madness. His circumstances is not only the cause that impacts his actions, but also the cause of the loss of his relationship with Gertrude, his mother, his knowledge of the treacherous acts of the court and his beliefs in religion. Hamlet is forced to avenge his father on his own because he loses his ability to rely on help due to the circumstance that he is in disagreement with his mother for her remarriage and because of the nature in which his father perishes.In addition to Hamlet’s loss of his father, he also loses the remaining of his familial relationship with his mother because of her remarriage to the man who killed his father. His impulsive actions that derive from this situation do not work in his favour. He believes that “enterprises of great pith and moment/turn awry/and lose the name of action,” thus he lets go of his last relationship with Ophelia (III. i. 87-89). As he no longer has anything to lose, there is nothing keeping him from succeeding his revenge, thus he does not possess the fear that prevents him from upholding his loyalty to his father.This allows him to unreservedly seek vengeance for old Hamlet’s death. His circumstance forces Hamlet to take matters into his own hands, as his knowledge towards the nature of his father’s death and the court’s treachery and corruption restricts him of his ability to rely on the court for judgement. Hamlet believes it to be just for him to befall a consequence crueller than his own misery on Claudius. These circumstances set him straight on the path to murder Claudius and his belief that it must be a vile murder leads him to his own downfall.He receives an opportunity to slay Claudius while he is confessing in prayer, but decides against the murder as he wishes not to “do this same villain send/to heaven,” but “trip him/and that his soul be as damned and black as hell” (III. i. 78-79, 94-95). Hamlet’s belief in religion that Claudius will go straight to heaven if he kills him while he is in practice temporarily prevents his plot to murder him. This does not satisfy his longing for revenge, thus he waits for another opportunity to arise.His inaction, as well as his insanity due to his loss of relationships and overwhelming knowledge, leads Hamlet into harming those around him in attempt to take control over his own world. As Hamlet’s circumstances become increasingly uncontrollable, he begins to feel helpless and in attempt to control over these occurrences, his actions become impulsive and ultimately harm himself and those around him. His circumstances overwhelm him to the point where he does not feel in control of his own life and that “Denmark’s a prison” (II. ii. 241).This is what he tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when they are trying to figure out the reason behind his madness. Hamlet is overwhelmed by the circumstances he is faced with, thus like an ordinary human, it is only natural for him to attempt an escape from his predicament. The desire to control his circumstances is what leads him to his downfall. With the situations he faces, he tries to control at least one aspect of his life, thus he deliberately toys with Ophelia’s feelings. He tells her that he never loved her; this harms himself, as well as Ophelia as he is lying in order to feel that he can control her.He confesses his true feelings towards her at her grave announcing that his “grief/bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow/conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand” and that his sorrows for Ophelia’s death match Laertes’ if not greater (V. i. 238-240). It is too late for Hamlet as Ophelia is no longer alive. This is a result of his impulsive actions that develop from the circumstances of the murdering of her father, Polonius – a consequence of Hamlet’s attempt to persuade his mother to leave Claudius.He harms his mother Gertrude as well, as he “turn’st [her] eyes into [her] very soul/And there [she] see[s] such black and grained spots” when he reveals the nature of old Hamlet’s death (III. iv. 90-91). It is clear that he is trying to control the relationship between Gertrude and Claudius; however, his unsuccessful attempt harms Gertrude emotionally. As he continually fails to take control over his own world, he drives himself to insanity and searches for aspects of his life that he can control. On the way to England, he happens to see the king’s order to have him killed.He is finally given one part of his life that he can take charge of as he feels that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern betray him, thus he changes the order to their deaths instead. His circumstances do not allow him to see his own behaviour, thus in order to satisfy his desire for revenge against Claudius, his impulsive actions lead to the death of himself, and many other characters. Hamlet’s knowledge of his father’s murder denies him his wellbeing and as a result, he loses his relationships with other characters and ultimately harms them.His many impulsive actions arise from the circumstances he faces, thus Shakespeare makes the audience wonder of Hamlet’s end if he did not seek a bloodthirsty revenge, but being satisfied in God’s punishment for Claudius by allowing his guilt to consume him. Hamlet’s story mirrors the revengeful characteristic inherent in all human beings that it is difficult to forgive; however, Shakespeare teaches the audience that taking this grudge too far can lead to the destruction of one’s own world, and the harm of their loved ones, similar to Hamlet’s demise.

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