Hamlet is a play by Shakespeare that is often studied in high school and college. The play is full of complex characters and interesting themes. One theme that is present throughout the play is sympathy. Sympathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In Hamlet, there are several characters who evoke sympathy from the audience.
Hamlet himself is a sympathetic character. He is grieving the death of his father and struggling to deal with the fact that his mother has married his uncle. Hamlet is also faced with the difficult task of avenging his father’s death. He must weigh his own moral compass against the need to take action. As a result, Hamlet is a complex and sympathetic character.
Other sympathetic characters in Hamlet include Ophelia and Horatio. Ophelia is Hamlet’s love interest. She is a victim of Hamlet’s madness, and she eventually goes mad herself. Horatio is Hamlet’s friend. He is the only one who truly understands Hamlet and his situation. Horatio is loyal to Hamlet and stands by him until the end.
The theme of sympathy is present throughout Hamlet. It is a complex play with many layers, and the audience can’t help but feel sympathy for the characters.
Hamlet is a tragic hero, as his father’s death, ex-girlfriend, and all the bad events in between portray him as a person with several pains. These problems allow audiences to sympathize with and connect to Hamlet’s complicated personality.
Shakespeare generates compassion among readers through the accelerated marriage of Hamlet’s mother, who was guilty of murder, and Hamlet’s uncle, who murdered him. These events not only elicit empathy from the audience; they also contribute to the main thesis of retribution as Hamlet tries to seek revenge for his father’s unlawful death.
The hastened marriage of Hamlet’s mother to his uncle creates much sympathy from the audience. Hamlet is still grieving the death of his father and has not had time to process everything that has happened. His mother’s hasty marriage makes Hamlet feel as if she is disrespecting the memory of his father. Hamlet says to her, “you go not till I set you up a glass / Where you may see the inmost part of you” (3.4.22-23).
Hamlet is telling her that she does not see herself clearly and does not know who she really is. He feels that she is betraying his father’s memory by marrying his murderer so soon after his death. Hamlet’s mother is not the only one at fault here, his uncle is also to blame. Hamlet’s uncle killed Hamlet’s father in order to take his throne and marry Hamlet’s mother. The audience feels sympathy for Hamlet because he has lost both his father and his girlfriend within a short period of time.
Hamlet’s apparent madness is another factor that creates sympathy from the audience. Hamlet is grieving and angry over the death of his father and the hasty marriage of his mother. He is also trying to come to terms with the fact that his girlfriend has married someone else.
Hamlet is so overwhelmed by all of this that he seems to go mad. He starts to act erratically and says things that do not make sense. Hamlet’s madness allows the audience to see that he is just a man who is struggling to deal with everything that has happened to him.
Hamlet’s madness also serves as a way for him to get revenge on his uncle. Hamlet knows that his uncle killed his father and he wants to get revenge. Hamlet pretends to be mad in order to get close to his uncle and kill him. The audience feels sympathy for Hamlet because they know that he is not really mad, he is just trying to cope with everything that has happened.
Shakespeare uses the theme of revenge to create sympathy for Hamlet. Hamlet’s father was killed by his uncle and Hamlet wants to get revenge. Hamlet’s quest for revenge is what drives the play. Hamlet is so consumed by his need for revenge that he is willing to go to any lengths to get it.
The death of Hamlet’s father and his mother’s haste to marry him produce feelings of empathy in the audience. The tale begins on a dark and melancholy note as Hamlet enters Act 1 clad in black, mourning the death of his father, who had passed away two months prior.
King Claudius’ description of Hamlet’s father as “that old buffer” elicits empathy for the protagonist, who is compared to King Claudius himself when he says, “But perseverance in obstinate concealment is a course of sinful obstinacy. It’s unmanly to grieve.” The Kings’ coarse remarks about how a real man would move on following his father’s death foster dislike for Claudius and make Hamlet seem more justifiable in his hatred.
Hamlet’s anguish is further displayed when he talks to his mother in her chambers and she shows no remorse for Hamlet’s father’s death or her hasty marriage to Claudius.
Hamlet is so disgusted by his mother’s lack of grief that he Hamlet tells her “seems, madam! nay it is; I know not ‘seems.’ / ’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, / Nor customary suits of solemn black, / Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, / No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, / Nor the dejected ‘havior of the visage, / Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, / That can denote me truly. These indeed “seem,” / For they are actions that a man might play; / But I have that within which passeth show, / These but the trappings and the suits of woe.”
Hamlet is disgusted by his mother’s lack of emotion because he is consumed by his own grief and cannot understand how she could so easily move on from his father’s death. Hamlet’s anger towards his mother creates more sympathy as the audience can understand Hamlet’s frustration at her apparent callousness. Hamlet’s sympathetic character is also furthered when he is talking to Ophelia and she gives him back all the gifts he had given her.
Hamlet is so hurt by her rejection that he tells her, “Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?” Hamlet’s hurtful words are a direct result of his pain and the audience cannot help but feel sympathy for him as they watch him lash out at the one person who truly loves him. Hamlet’s sympathetic character is further developed through his interactions with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet is clearly frustrated with their constant prodding and attempts to uncover his madness, but he still treats them politely.
Hamlet even goes so far as to provide them with a long list of reasons why he is depressed, but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern still do not seem to understand his pain. Hamlet’s patience and kindness towards Rosencrantz and Guildenstern despite their lack of understanding creates sympathy as the audience can see that Hamlet is truly a good person despite his apparent madness.
In conclusion, Shakespeare creates sympathy for Hamlet through his father’s death, his mother’s hasty marriage, and his interactions with Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. Sympathy is an important part of Hamlet as it allows the audience to understand Hamlet’s actions and provides context for his madness.