Example research essay topic: Psychological Elements Of Hamlet’s Character – 919 words

Disillusionment. Depression. Despair. These are
the burning emotions churning in young Hamlet’s
soul as he attempts to come to terms with his
father’s death and his mother’s incestuous,
illicit marriage. While Hamlet tries to pick up
the pieces of his shattered idealism, he
consciously embarks on a quest to seek the truth
hidden in Elsinore; this, in stark contrast to
Claudius’ fervent attempts to obscure the truth of
murder. Deception versus truth; illusion versus
reality.

In the play, Prince Hamlet is constantly
having to differentiate amongst them. However,
there is always an exception to the rule, and in
this case, the exception lies in Act 2, Scene 2,
where an “honest” conversation (sans the gilded
trappings of deceit) takes place between Hamlet
and Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern. Via the use of
prose and figurative language, Shakespeare
utilizes the passage to illustrate Hamlet’s view
of the cosmos and mankind. Throughout the play,
the themes of illusion and mendaciousness have
been carefully developed. The entire royal Danish
court is ensnared in a web of espionage, betrayal,
and lies. Not a single man speaks his mind, nor
addresses his purpose clearly.

As Polonius puts it
so perfectly: “And thus do we of wisdom and of
reach^ By indirections find directions out” Act 2,
Scene 2, Lines 71-3 The many falsehoods and
deceptions uttered in Hamlet are expressed through
eloquent, formal, poetic language (iambic
pentameter), tantamount to an art form. If deceit
is a painted, ornate subject then, its foil of
truth is simple and unvarnished. Accordingly, when
the pretenses of illusion are discarded in Act 2,
Scene 2, the language is written in direct prose.
Addressing Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet
pleads with them to deliver up honest speech about
the intent of their arrival: “[offer up] Anything
but to th’ purpose.” Act 2, Scene 2, Line 300 In a
gesture of extreme significance, in a quote
complementary to Polonius’ aforementioned one,
Hamlet demands: “Be even and direct with me
whether you were sent for or no.” Act 2, Scene 2,
Lines 310-11 Being the bumbling fools they are,
Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern disclose their
intentions and purposes to Hamlet, revealing the
King and Queen’s instructions. Thus does truth
prevail in this passage. For this reason, the
whole passage is devoid of the “artful” poetic
devices that are used in the better portion of the
play. The recurring motif of corruption also
appears in the passage.

Due to the wicked internal
proceedings in the state of Denmark (e.g. murder,
incest), Shakespeare implies that the whole state
is “soiled”, which in turn has a direct negative
consequence in the grand universal scheme of
things. Imagery of warped and distasteful plants,
in place of the traditional “aesthetically
correct” beautiful flowers in a garden, serves to
further reinforce the degeneration theme: “‘Tis an
unweeded garden that grows to seed. Things rank
and gross in nature possess it merely.” Act 1,
Scene 2 Essentially, all of life, and all that was
good and beautiful in life (e.g. the garden) is
sullied. Hamlet, the disillusioned idealist,
continues with the motif when he disheartenedly
declares: “the earth, seems to me a sterile
promontory^” -Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 321-2 [the
air] “why, it appeareth nothing to me but a fouled
and pestilent congregation of vapors.” -Act 2,
Scene 2, Lines 325-6 The above lines represent
Hamlet’s cosmic view on the planet.

He finds the
world to be empty and lifeless, dirty and
diseased, and his particular place in it to be
desolate and lonely. Indeed, he feels so isolated
and entrapped in his native land that he says:
[the world is a prison] “A goodly one, in which
there are many confines, wards, and dungeons,
Denmark being one o’ th’ worst.” -Act 2, Scene 2,
Lines 264-6 This view of the world exemplifies the
micro/macro concept, where Denmark is the “micro”
manifestation of a prison for our hero. The taint
of “micro” Denmark leads to repercussions that in
turn affect the whole universal order, leading to
the consequence of the world itself becoming the
“macro” manifestation of a prison in Hamlet’s
eyes. Further along in the same paragraph, Hamlet
offers up his opinion on man, extolling his
virtues and excellent qualities (“what a piece of
work is man^”). Yet, it is tremendously ironic,
that the ideal type of man Hamlet is describing is
nowhere to be found in the play. Hamlet himself is
indecisive, unable to take action, Claudius is a
slave to his lusts and passions, Polonius is a
simpering, servile old fool, and Rosenkrantz and
Guildenstern are mindless ninnies.

Quite simply,
no “true man” as Hamlet describes him exists in
the play. As a result of this dismal realization,
and because of his inability to adapt to the
“unnatural state of things in Denmark”, Hamlet has
lost the love for life he once had. This loss of
enthusiasm also stems from the fact that he
intrinsically knows there is more wickedness
brewing under the superficial illusionary surface
of calm that Claudius is trying to promote. As a
culmination of all these factors, Hamlet loses all
faith in man: “And yet, to me, what is this
quintessence of dust?” Scene 2, Act 2, Lines 332-3
Drawing on Biblical allusions, Hamlet redefines
the position of man as simply “that which came
from dust”. From this stance, it is inferred that
solely God is Truth. Man, coming from the lowly
earth, cannot be depended upon to deliver pure and
true thoughts, as his source of origin itself is
impure and unclean.

If one establishes this
rationality for mankind’s nature, then all the
characters in the play can be accounted for..

Research essay sample on Psychological Elements Of Hamlets Character