In reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the reader is exposed to several different sides of the personality of the protagonist. There is a poetic, intellectual side to Hamlet, as well as a cruel, barbaric side when one considers his reactions and treatment of certain characters. There is a side to him that is full of doubt and uncertainty, a side that is certain of other’s failures to the point of paranoia, but there is also a side to him that is inherently sad and sorrowful in the face of his situation. I will attempt to discern how often the theme of sadness and despair is touched upon, and how Hamlet’s feelings of despair towards the unfurling events of his life lead him to make the decisions that he makes.
Throughout the play, Hamlets uncertainness is played upon and his inability to make decisions is made into a reason for sorrow itself. He procrastinates his decisions as he isn’t confident about being brave enough to “confront his destiny”, and it is due to this melancholic stance that he is later weakened morally and unable to carry out his goals As he states, “my weakness and my melancholy” in Act two, scene two, 630, he is aware of his spiral into sorrow and procrastination. As he himself ponders, “…the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”(Adelman, 2012), Hamlet is shown to come to a decision but does not carry it out as he thinks it over and puts it off. He changes his mind about killing Claudius, but comes to an abrupt decision to kill him while he is confessing his sins. It is part anger, but part inability to come to a decision that causes him depression. Of course, he changes course again when he thinks over how the killing of Claudius while confessing to his sins will grant Claudius access to a path to heaven. According to De Grazia (1997), Hamlet shows a quiet ruthlessness as he lets it go for he time being, showing that he does not want any moral roadblocks standing in Claudius’s path to hell as he rightly deserves.
Hamlets weaknesses are all too apparent, undoubtedly made so by Shakespeare. His stages of grief are textbook, with the soliloquy in Act three. He laments the loss of his father, the betrayal of his mother and is seen to shed his outer personality and reveal the scared, confused boy within. It is a well thought out contemplation of the events culminating in the utter sorrow and despair that he feels for his situation and the love that he was never able to receive and give