Shakespeare's Hamlet is considered the best among his tragedies-a masterpiece of literature that depicts human frailty and heartbreak. Hamlet, the protagonist is beset by "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." (Act iii Sc i, line 60) How then can it, in any way, be considered even remotely, as mirroring an optimistic viewpoint However, if we move a little away from an examination of Hamlet's personal fortunes alone, and look at the events that unfold from a wider perspective, there is reason for optimism.
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All the schemers and morally corrupt persons are dead. Fortinbras, the king of Norway will now reign over Denmark, and its people can expect peace and prosperity, after the unstable period of palace intrigues. Hamlet, himself, though being an upright young man, was not politically inclined, and would not have made a good king for Denmark. So, though his untimely death is a personal tragedy, it seems inevitable that this had to happen in the larger interests of political stability. Amidst the death and destruction, it is also heartening that Horatio is alive-he lives to relate the story of Hamlet to the new king, Fortinbras, and to the world.
There is a sense of poetic justice when the denouement of the play is unraveled. The schemers have got what they deserved, especially King Claudius who has killed his brother, Hamlet (Father of the protagonist-the young Hamlet) and married the Queen Gertrude for political gain, and the Queen herself, who for personal security and power married her brother-in-law so readily, just weeks after her husband was slain.
If we narrow the spotlight to examine Hamlet's personal actions in the play, there is reason for optimism too. ...
rude for political gain, and the Queen herself, who for personal security and power married her brother-in-law so readily, just weeks after her husband was slain.
If we narrow the spotlight to examine Hamlet's personal actions in the play, there is reason for optimism too. Hamlet has generally been seen as an indecisive person, who, though he knew that his father had been killed by his uncle, Claudius, did not take action to avenge his death. This, however, is a simplistic interpretation. Think of this. Hamlet is generous enough in giving Claudius the benefit of doubt. The crime that he has committed has no living witnesses. Yes, the ghost of Hamlet's father does inform him of the dastardly deed. But how can he believe in this without any other evidence How can he be sure that this ghost is not some evil spirit come down to merely confuse and mislead him The message that we get is the one that is enshrined in the judicial systems of most democracies in the world today: Presume that a person is innocent unless he is proved guilty. The play, therefore, is not a typical 'revenge' play. (Eliot, 1922)
We must understand that the play deals with the complexity of human action, and the difficulty in ascertaining the correctness of an action. To the extent that the play acknowledges that we cannot simplistically classify an action as black and white, and that a vast gray exists, it is more realistic; and to the extent that it is more realistic, it may be considered optimistic, as it believes in the innate goodness of a person, and the mistake we could make in sitting in judgment on anyone-however wicked he may appear to be.
This play contains some of the most optimistic lines ever written-asserting belief in the innate goodness of
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