Senior English: Hamlet Notes – Unlikely Hero

(Just some quick revision notes for both students and teachers on Hamlet)

Unlikely hero

  • He projects Gertrude’s qualities onto Ophelia unfairly ‘frailty, thy name is woman’ Obsession with Gertrude


  • Fickle treatment of Ophelia – ‘I never gave you aught’


  • Aggressive treatment of Ophelia – ‘get thee to a nunnery’


  • Inappropriate towards Ophelia at the play within a play – ‘Can I lay my head on your lap?’ – contrasts with him telling her to get to a nunnery in previous scene


  • Coward – talks about getting revenge but doesn’t – an anti-hero? ‘haste me to know’t…’ – lack of action/ all talk, no action


  • Murders Polonius – turning point in our view of him – contradicts his ‘moral reasons for not killing Claudius’


  • This is also disrespectful to Ophelia, who he apparently ‘loves’


  • Doesn’t even show regret ‘thou wretched, rash…’


  • Hides the body – total disrespect


  • Self-absorbed and negative – whines, suicidal ‘I do not set my life at a pin’s fee’


  • Snobby/ superficial – judges people based on social status – no regard for women



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