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Complexity of Human Condition in Hamlet


The human condition is a way of dealing with those problems, issues, and scenarios one has to face or go through in life from birth to death. Being human is an enigma as one is entangled and bound to tackle different behaviors or aspects of human nature. On the other hand, the human condition is a way of dealing with passions like greed, selfishness, forgiveness, love, hate, narcissism, etc. Different people have different approaches to dealing with these passions of nature or circumstances in life one approaches positively, and the other approach negatively to the solution of the same problem. The complexity of the human condition is when one has to face many issues and problems running in one’s mind, and at the same time, one is working on the solution to all these problems.

In creating the character of Hamlet, Shakespeare utilizes literary elements like tone and characterization to evolve the complexity of the human condition. Hamlet being an ordinary human being has to face life and undergo such circumstances that lead him to a situation wherein satisfaction with his revenge hurts almost everyone near him except Horatio. He is only interested in his objective of taking revenge and does not care about the physical or mental injury of the people around him. Shakespeare uses Hamlet as a protagonist whose curiosity reflects the human quest for truth about the reasons that make the world corrupted. (Omid, 2014) He feels his agony allows him to hurt, injure or mistreat everyone else. Such human behavior is another name for the human condition. So Shakespeare builds the complexity of the human condition on Hamlet’s behavior towards the situation he was facing.

Hamlet, The Prince of Denmark, finds himself entangled in a situation where his father is murdered unnaturally, and his mother, against ethics, remarries his uncle Claudius, the suspected killer of his father. Hamlet vows to take revenge on his uncle for the murder of his father along with his desire to keep the peace of state intact. This amalgamation of peace and hate in the mind of Hamlet is an aspect of the human condition. Thus Shakespeare establishes the complexity of the human condition through the passion for revenge buried deep in Hamlet.

Throughout the play, we find Hamlet in search of truth and Claudius in power. Both of them exhibit they take more interest in their objectives than to sense the impact of their actions on people who are near and dear to them. The murder of King Hamlet, Claudius’ marriage with Queen Gertrude, his punishment of Hamlet for Polonius’ death by exiling him to England, spying on Hamlet through his school chums, and Claudius’ assistance in Laertes’ plot of killing Hamlet are all actions behind his thirst for power. Negative emotions like hate, regret, guilt, shame, and desire for power are core elements of the human condition.

On the other side, the visit of King Hamlet’s ghost and information about his murder by Claudius, Hamlet’s antic disposition, The Mousetrap episode reveals his guilty conscience toward Claudius, Hamlet’s carelessness toward Ophelia, his indifference towards his mother, hanging of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead of Hamlet, killings of Laertes and Claudius in the hands of Hamlet are examples behind Hamlet’s negative and positive emotions that are core of the complexity of the human condition.

Hamlet is a complex character, possesses various traits and different sides of his personality, and surprises us with emotions and changes throughout the play. The complexity of the human condition also shows strong emotions and changes in human nature. Hamlet shows these changes when sometimes he believes in ghosts' information. Sometimes he questions his trustworthiness, loves Ophelia, and sometimes he is too careless about her that she drowned. Sometimes he cares about her mother, and somewhere shows indifference to her.


To conclude, the complexity of the human condition includes all the positive and negative human emotions, behaviors, and aspects of human nature. All events that happen in life from birth to death and the ways man deals with all these events are other names of the human condition. Shakespeare conveys the complexity of human nature in its complete essence in Hamlet.