Main Characters in Hamlet - shsenglishstudies

Main Characters in Hamlet - shsenglishstudies

Main Characters in Hamlet 1 Characterization Characterization is the process of conveying information about characters in fiction. Characters are usually presented through their actions, dialect, and thoughts, as well as by description. Characterization can regard a variety of aspects of a character, such as appearance, age,

gender, educational level, vocation or occupation, financial status, marital status, social status, cultural background, hobbies, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ambitions, motivations, personality, etc. 2 Two Types of Characterization Direct or explicit characterization The author literally tells the audience what a character is like. This may be done via the narrator, another character or by the character him or herself.

Indirect or implicit characterization The audience must deduce for themselves what the character is like through the character's thoughts, actions, speech (choice of words, way of talking), looks and interaction with other characters, including other characters reactions. 3 Character Foils A foil is a secondary character who contrasts with a major character and, in so doing, highlights various facets of the main character's personality. The author may

use the foil to set up situations in which the protagonist can show his or her character traits. 4 Hamlet The Prince of Denmark, the title character, and the protagonist. About thirty years old at the start of the play, Hamlet is the son of Queen Gertrude and the late King Hamlet, and the nephew of the present king, Claudius. Hamlet is melancholy, bitter, and cynical, full of hatred for his uncles

scheming and disgust for his mothers sexuality. A reflective and thoughtful young man who has studied at the University of Wittenberg, Hamlet is often indecisive and hesitant, but at other times prone to rash and impulsive acts. 5 Claudius The King of Denmark, Hamlets uncle, and the plays antagonist. The villain of the play, Claudius is a calculating, ambitious politician, driven by his sexual appetites and his lust for power, but he occasionally

shows signs of guilt and human feeling his love for Gertrude, for instance, seems sincere. 6 Gertrude The Queen of Denmark, Hamlets mother, recently married to Claudius. Gertrude loves Hamlet deeply, but she is a shallow, weak woman who seeks affection and status more urgently than moral rectitude or truth.

7 Polonius and Family Polonius - The Lord Chamberlain of Claudiuss court, a pompous, conniving old man. Polonius is the father of Laertes and Ophelia. Ophelia - Poloniuss daughter, a beautiful young woman with whom Hamlet has been in love. Ophelia is a sweet and innocent young girl, who obeys her father and her brother, Laertes. Dependent on men to tell her how to behave, she gives in to Poloniuss schemes to spy on Hamlet. Even in her lapse into madness and death, she remains maidenly, singing songs about flowers and finally drowning in the river

amid the flower garlands she had gathered. Laertes - Poloniuss son and Ophelias brother, a young man who spends much of the play in France. Passionate and quick to action, Laertes is clearly a foil for the reflective Hamlet. 8 Friends and Enemies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, who are summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlets strange behavior. Horatio - Hamlets close friend, who studied with the

prince at the university in Wittenberg. Horatio is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play. After Hamlets death, Horatio remains alive to tell Hamlets story. Fortinbras - The young Prince of Norway, whose father the king (also named Fortinbras) was killed by Hamlets father (also named Hamlet). Now Fortinbras wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his fathers honor, making him another foil for Prince Hamlet. 9 The Ghost The specter of Hamlets recently deceased father. The ghost, who claims to have been

murdered by Claudius, calls upon Hamlet to avenge him. However, it is not entirely certain whether the ghost is what it appears to be, or whether it is something else. Hamlet speculates that the ghost might be a devil sent to deceive him and tempt him into murder, and the question of what the ghost is or where it comes from is never definitively resolved. 10 Smaller Parts Osric - The foolish courtier who summons Hamlet to his duel with Laertes.

Voltimand and Cornelius - Courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking. Marcellus and Bernardo - The officers who first see the ghost walking the ramparts of Elsinore and who summon Horatio to witness it. Marcellus is present when Hamlet first encounters the ghost. Francisco - A soldier and guardsman at Elsinore. Reynaldo - Poloniuss servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes. 11

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