Loneliness in Hamlet
Loneliness in Hamlet The article “Personal and Social Influences on Loneliness: The Mediating Effect of Social Provisions” defined loneliness by stating, “First, loneliness is thought to result from perceived deficiencies in one’s social world.Second, loneliness is thought to be a subjective state experienced by the individual, rather than some objective feature in the individual’s social world.Third, this experience frequently is unpleasant and distressing” (Kraus et al.
85). Everyone faces loneliness and despair in their lives.
In today’s world people may feel misunderstood or isolated, or they could feel deficient because the lack a family or missing a loved one. In Hamlet, much of the loneliness and suffering he endures is due to the secrets he is forced to keep. There were many instances where Hamlet felt alone and upset, but he could not share his pain with anyone else. We can also find examples of Hamlet’s despair due to betrayal from his so-called friends. The loneliness and despair in Hamlet are factors that added to his suffering and caused his overall demise.
Hamlet is a lonely, isolated character, with few friends and little faith in humanity. His loneliness plays a great role in his downfall, by alienating him from his friends and family and eventually taking control of his actions. He does not share the knowledge of his father’s murder with anyone. He can’t trust his friends and family, and he hides his true feelings from his only love, Ophelia, adding to her insanity. These events eventually lead to his downfall, and could have been avoided by sharing his dilemma.
Throughout the play, Hamlet discovers who is loyal to him and also who his real enemies are. Right away, Hamlet dislikes his uncle. He is already distraught over losing his father, but he has also to deal with the marriage of his beloved mother to his uncle, who killed his father and whom he perceives as being cruel and cold-hearted. Hamlet refers to his uncle as, “A little more than kin, and less than kind” (1. 2. 564). This clearly demonstrates the extreme hatred Hamlet has towards his uncle. Hamlet also feels intensely betrayed by his mother.
Claude Williamson states that “[…] the shock which he suffered on hearing of the murder and on realizing the full horror of his mother’s action made, as it were, a wound in his mind, which hurt whenever he thought of his uncle or of his mother’s connection with that uncle” (98). Hamlet trusted his mother and feels as if she has disregarded any love she ever felt towards her former husband. In Hamlet’s eyes, his mother has offended his father, and he blames her for his death. Hamlet says to his mother, “A bloody deed!
Almost as bad, good mother, As kill a king, and marry with his brother” (3. 4. 621). This shows that he is revolted by the idea of the marriage between his uncle and his mother. Hamlet also encounters loneliness and despair with Ophelia. Due to his experiences throughout the play, Hamlet distances himself from Ophelia, whom he is actually in love with. He does this by insulting her and convincing her that he is mad and never had any true feelings for her. By pretending to be mad and not telling Ophelia about his true feelings, he is misleading her as well.
Ophelia believed his affections were true and she fell in love, only to be crushed by his madness. However, in his madness, Hamlet came to see Ophelia in a disheveled state, “[… ] with his doublet all unbraced, no hat upon his head, his stockings fouled, ungartered, and down-gyved to his ankle, pale as his shirt, his knees knocking [… ]” and frightened her (2. 1. 585). Her father bid her not to speak to him, and she complied. Poor Hamlet sank deeper into his madness, alone and dejected. Ophelia, also depressed, was ready to take her own life.
Hamlet is devastated because he never actually meant to hurt her. Hamlet says, “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum” (5. 1. 654). This shows how much Hamlet truly loved Ophelia. The last factor that contributed to Hamlet’s loneliness is that he didn’t share his problems with anyone (except for Horatio). He hid his hatred towards his uncle, the loss he felt with his mother, and the secret of his encounter with his murdered father’s ghost. If he had told more people his secrets, then they could have been more willing to help him.
The person who could have helped him the most and spared him the most grief is Ophelia. By telling her about his father’s murder and about his plan to avenge his death, Ophelia would have provided Hamlet with comfort and understanding. His tragic flaw came from the misleading act he put on in order to hide his ambitions, and the crafty schemes he came up with to reach his goals. However, some topics are so complex that Hamlet may face limitations in discussing them with people who are not as deep as he.
Hamlet’s loneliness was caused by many incidents, some of which Hamlet brought upon him himself. Had he shared his problems with the few people he could trust, and not hidden the knowledge of his father’s murder, he might have avoided the great loss of his family, his friends, and his life. Secrets, deception, and despair plagued Hamlet throughout the play, and ultimately caused his downfall. It is important that we have support from our friends through difficult times. When we alienate people by keeping secrets from them, it is to our disadvantage. We cause our own loneliness.