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Hamlet's Turning Points

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William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, documents one character's continual development. From a hesitant youth to a ruthless revenge-seeker, there are three major turning points that propose the start of Hamlet's wicked evolution. In dealing with his father's passing, Hamlet's grief burdens him to be overwrought with emotion and causes him to contemplate the irrational, even murder. The Players' scene, Prayer scene and Closet scene all present possible key turning points for this change. Although Hamlet's sanity remains questionable throughout the play, these three scenes suggest possible points in which Hamlet becomes particularly vicious. Beginning with the vision of his father's ghost relaying the notion of his own murder by Hamlet's uncle, Claudius, Hamlet's mind becomes increasingly flooded with impulsions.

The Players' scene seems to be a very critical moment that causes the greatest change in Hamlet's character. In this scene, the re-enactment of King Hamlet's alleged homicide triggers a visual reaction from Claudius, thus causing Hamlet to realize the validity of the ghost's story. Initially Hamlet has his hesitations and uncertainties of Claudius' innocence. It is after the Players' scene that Hamlet is able to put aside his doubts and to have a clear and legitimate motive in plotting and executing his revenge. It is now that Hamlet has the "motive and the cue for passion".

He becomes so engulfed with the thought of murdering Claudius that he even begins to push away those that he loves, such as Ophelia and his mother. Upon encountering Ophelia, Hamlet is cruel towards her and snarls at her to "go to a nunnery". Hamlet becomes paranoid and has no one to trust but Horatio. Yet, though Hamlet acts viciously towards Ophelia, it is obvious that he still loves her as he grieves for her death in the cemetery. Prior to the Players' scene, Hamlet had described himself as "pigeon livered". Following the Players' scene, Hamlet claims to be able to "drink hot blood and do such bitter business". In order to ensure the successful execution of his revenge, his attitude towards Claudius' murder becomes focused and precise.

Arguably, the Prayer scene represents another likely turning point of Hamlet's character. Hamlet fails to kill an unsuspecting Claudius, despite his prior soliloquy promising immediate action. He feels that committing such a crime against a praying and supposedly-repenting Claudius would not do his own father's murder justice. Hamlet's revenge wants to damn Claudius with the worse possible fate. He desires not only to slay Claudius' earthly body, but to be sure that Claudius' soul is damned to eternal hell by killing him during an act of sinfulness.

The Prayer scene shows the depth of Hamlet's spitefulness. Hamlet wants to be sure that his vengeance is thorough and that he harms Claudius as deeply and as greatly as he can. It is ironic that although Hamlet's intentions are to ensure Claudius' just deserts, in actuality, Hamlet loses his best chance to act against Claudius and allows Claudius more time to act against him. Hamlet's rejection of an opportune moment to kill Claudius permits following tragedies to occur.

After obliviously missing out on the most seemly moment to kill Claudius, Hamlet decides to confront his mother to "speak daggers to her". The Closet scene begins with an infuriated Hamlet obnoxiously chiding his mother for her fragility. He boldly raises the topic of how his mother had chosen Claudius, "a mildewed ear", over remaining faithful to King Hamlet, a man whom Hamlet believes was "where every god did seem



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