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Identity is a fickle thing it could lead you in a straight path through life or lead you to your death. Shakespeare creates doubt in both his play Hamlet and the character Hamlet in regard to identity through a form of self-referentiality. Shakespeare, the author himself, struggles with his identity that ultimately affects the identity of the play. Hamlet’s hamartia is the fact that he does not fit into masculine stereotypes and expresses more feminine qualities. The pull between both his masculine and feminine sides leads to his death. The play Hamlet itself struggles with the same problem, it resembles closely to a revenge tragedy yet doesn’t live up to the definition at the very end.

The title given at birth can either be embraced or disregarded. The powerful title of a prince is one who can take over territory, kill without shame, and rule without resistance. Prince Hamlet of Denmark has demonstrated none of these. He is not a son as he has shunned his mother and his dad was murdered. He is a woman; displaying his struggle with femininity throughout the play. Although he displays masculine traits of aggressiveness, quick thinking, and courage, his feminine qualities shine through as he is emotional, an over-thinker, and in need of constant reassurance. As a prince, the death of his father meant that he would become the next King of Denmark if Claudius wasn’t in the loop. However, Horatio identified the ghost as King Hamlet by “the very armor he had on” this displays Prince Hamlet’s lack of masculinity as the late King still embodied a warlike character (1.1.70). Unlike his father, Hamlet is not deserving of the “kingly” armor and although it is in his blood it isn’t in his character to be a ruler. Masculine men have the will to fight and kill anyone or anything that does them wrong. Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras handle the deaths of their fathers in different ways. Laertes and Fortinbras fight back to regain the strength and power of their family name. Hamlet goes mad and spirals into an internal war with himself. This is in parallel with Ophelia who goes mad eventually ending her life. Hamlet and Ophelia back to back both express the feminine quality of emotion and the coping mechanism in the event of a tragedy. His madness ultimately leads to the innocent death of Polonius who was hiding behind a curtain in Gertrude’s room. Not understanding who it was and asking “is it the king” expresses Hamlet’s rash actions due to his deep emotion concerning his father’s death (3.4.32). His inability to take action to avenge his father overall leads to his tragedy; his constant battle with his feminine and masculine traits prevents him from killing Claudius without him being killed himself.

By the looks of it, Hamlet can be characterized as a tragedy consisting of an apparition, insanity, and suicide. Ophelia overcame with madness from her relationship with Hamlet and the death of her father hanged herself and according to Queen Gertrude was surrounded by “crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples” (4.7.193). However, Queen Gertrude with her descriptive language of how she died raises suspicion on if it was a suicide or femicide. It makes sense as Gertrude expresses how she is “so full of artless jealousy [and it] is guilt” (4.5.24).

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Ophelia would have been the future mother of her grandchildren and Hamlet constantly compared Ophelia and her. The ghost of King Hamlet appears from purgatory and is “doomed” until “the foul crimes done in [his] days of nature/Are burnt and purged away” (1.5.17-18). Since Denmark was protestant at that time, they didn’t believe in purgatory and that is where the ghost claims he came from. Either Hamlet, Horatio, and Barnardo were imagining seeing a ghost or purgatory is real and proves the Protestant religion wrong. Throughout the play, Hamlet is seen as insane yet insures Rosencrantz and Goldenstein “[he is] but mad north-north-west/When the wind is southerly, [he] know[s] a hawk from a handsaw” (2.2.403-404). Hamlet knows what’s going on and is able to differentiate wrong from right. Hamlet ultimately implodes as a tragedy because it turns into a comedy. The play begins with the goal for Hamlet to kill solely Cladius yet throughout the play and at the very end, almost every character dies.

Marxism applies to Hamlet because at the very beginning there is a demonstration of class struggle, especially between Hamlet and Claudius. Claudius kills Hamlet’s father in order to gain the throne and sends Hamlet to England when his throne is in danger. Cladius is certain Hamlet is mad and states “I like him not, nor stands it safe with us/To let his madness range” (3.3.433-434). Cladius is threatened by Hamlet and the revenge he is seeking for his father. The farther he is away in England the less of a threat he is. Even though the play Hamlet was written before any dictatorial power, there is certainly a competition of power between the two men.

As the play concludes, Hamlet’s identity conflict ends in his death. Throughout the play, he had many opportunities to take avenge for his father but his feminine qualities took the better of him. There was much overthinking and an overall lack of masculine courage. He does not deserve the title he was given at birth and should be given the title of a maiden or even a princess.              

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