The Play Hamlet by William Shakespeare is arguably his finest tragedy ever written. The characterizations of the cast are odd shaped pieces that fit perfectly in this puzzle of confusion and anger. The contrasts and comparisons between and within the characters paint a colorful picture of tragedy and betrayal. Three characters that display intricate characteristics are Polonius, King Claudius, and Hamlet.
Polonius is a confused man filled with nothingness. He is just a shell of a person who will agree with those who overpower him. His mind is disillusioned and distraught. Throughout the play, until he is killed, he believes that Hamlet is acting crazy because Hamlet loves Ophelia, Polonius’ daughter. “This is the very ecstasy of loveAs oft as any passion under heaven That does afflict our natures.” It is these characteristics that lead him to his death. Following orders by the king, Polonius hides behind a curtain to spy on Hamlet. Unfortunately, Polonius spoke at the wrong time and is killed for spying. Polonius was just a pawn that meant nothing. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!”
King Claudius is a conniving man. He is the brother of the previous king, King Hamlet. Claudius’ devious mind and horrible actions were the cause of King Hamlet’s death. “With juice of crushed hebona in a vial And in the porches of King Hamlet’s ears did pour.” However his stone cold mind frame soon melted to fright as he saw a reenactment of his action in a play put forth by Hamlet, the son of King Hamlet. “Give me some light. Away!” Soon after, Claudius’ devious mind began working again to plot Hamlet’s death. Backfiring with his plan, he quickly picks up where he left off with another scheme to eliminate Hamlet. Leartes, the son of Polonius, whom was killed by Hamlet, comes to their land. Claudius relays the bad news and gets Leartes to vow vengeance. Through all of the scheming and treachery, The king’s true face is shown and is killed.
Hamlet is a clever and intelligent man; however, in every tragedy there must be a tragic hero, and Hamlet is the tragic hero. Confused about his father’s mysterious death, Hamlet is trying to find some answers. Surprisingly, those answers came from a ghost. It was the Ghost of his father. Being a religious man, Hamlet was weary about the validity of the ghosts claims that Claudius killed Hamlet’s father. Hamlet had a witty plan to put on a play depicting his father’s death in front of King Claudius. With King Claudius reaction, Hamlet knew that his father was murdered, and began thinking of ways to avenge his father’s death. Being slightly devious himself, Hamlet planned to catch Claudius in his own treacherous web. He could not just run him through at that time because of his religious beliefs. However, his part as the tragic hero kicked in and died soon after killing Claudius. “O, I die, Horatio! The potent poison quite o’er-crows my spirit.”
Overall, Hamlet was an ideal tragedy. What made it ideal was the characteristics of the characters and the way that they all became intertwined throughout the play. Hamlet was the strongest character, mentally and ethically. Although Hamlet did not come out on top, he completed his life’s work and is in a better place.