Sie sind auf Seite 1von 4

The Brand Of Cowardice

Submitted to: Mr. Freitas Submitted by: Alex Gebreamlak Date: Thursday October 5, 2017 Class: ENG 4UP

Topic: “Man is only truly great when he acts from his passions”. Discuss the nature of man as it is revealed in Hamlet. Question: What defines men in Hamlet and how does this lead to their inevitable demise?

In William Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet” the real strength of a man is only revealed in

the face of adversity. Consequently, men faced with such quandaries, show complete and utter

weakness as their passion diminishes almost entirely. Great decisions stem from passion and

emotion but soon after a man's judgment becomes clouded, they lose their reason to act, leading

to their undoing. Claudius’s false facade of pretending to be king, Laertes loss of vengeance for

his family's death and Hamlet’s excessive procrastination and overthinking all led them to their

deaths. Hence, the downfall of man in Hamlet directly attributes to their own inherent cowardice

alongside a complete absence of passion.

Claudius’s path to king gives a clear description of the type of person he is and the

lengths one will go for power. He represents the worst in human nature as he strives off lust,

greed, and corruption, which makes him the basis of something being "rotten in the state of

Denmark." (Shakespeare Hamlet, 1.4.90). His two-faced character is shown as he falsely mourns

the death of Hamlet Sr. in front of Denmark, after being completely responsible for it.

Additionally, if carefully looked into the mind of Claudius, it is obvious that the reasons for his

actions spawn from his overthinking, from killing his brother to filling his shoes he chooses his

actions solely of reason and not passion. That is why he is unable to understand why he cannot

forgive himself, “O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven…. 'Forgive me my foul murder'? That

cannot be; since I am still possess'd of those effects for which I did the murder”(3.3.35-55).

Claudius has lost the feeling of remorse for his actions and would repeat each one of them if

given a chance; he knows they are wrong as it disrupts the chain of being but still chooses to

follow them. Claudius’s actions stem from cowardice and excess thinking, and if he avoided

these choices by any means, his life would not have ended the way it did.

Complete loss of family, the thought alone is enough to completely obliterate a man to

pieces, Laertes, however, experienced such loss first hand. This once so passionate individual

demonstrates a complete loss of manhood and was reduced to a pawn by the end of this play,

solely due to the abandonment of emotions. “To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil!

Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged most thoroughly for my father.” (4.5.127). This

intense feeling of vengeance gets completely subdued soon after returning to Denmark,

originally entering with Claudius at swordpoint, his mind becomes flustered with whom to hold

responsible and loses his sense of revenge. Laertes fierce emotions have dulled to a rather

pathetic point as he now sides with the man responsible for his families death, “ Hamlet, thou art

slain; No medicine in the world can do thee good. In thee there is not half an hour of life.”

Laertes sense of pride and dignity are lost along with his father and sister and his own life solely

due to his loss of emotion and reliance on others for reasoning, making his cowardly existence

merely a shell of the man that could have been.

One can only do so much fiddling around and procrastination until the time comes in

which they must step forward. Hamlet lack of decisiveness and ambition exempts him from

fulfilling the promises he made to his father at the beginning of the play. His constant doubt and

overthinking expresses his cowardice in action, turning an original, “O most pernicious woman!

O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain; At

least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark” (1.5.105-109) into months of plain hesitation. Hamlet

continuous delay shows exactly the type of coward he has become, the opportunity to murder

Claudius as he prayed was given to him but states, “And so he goes to heaven

A villain kills

my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven.” (3.3.77-83), showing

that a more fulfilling chance will arise. Hamlet uses excess time reflecting on his character and

contemplating his situation but never acting on passion. Although the young Dane decides to do

right in the end, his death was already inescapable, proving that man cannot do great through the

life of a coward.

No matter the individual, all men subdue to their unavoidable cowardice at one point,

originating from their fundamental lack of passion. Polonius pathetically uses his daughter

Ophelia to get Hamlet’s attention and hides behind a carpet on countless occasions showing his

complete cowardice as a man. Claudius’s imitation as king as well as his fear of merely

executing Hamlet indicates the type of individual he is. Laertes fear of Claudius and Hamlet

overturns his passion for vengeance; he does not succeed in fulfilling his goal which is the basis

for his death. Finally, Hamlet the man who promised to avenge his father over thinks every

situation he is put in, demonstrating the true meaning of frailty. These men all have personal

oppositions as well as the ability and freedom to act based on their passions. But they choose the

life of a coward and their inescapable fate of death was the only thing awaiting them.