Hamlet: Major Characters
William Shakespeare is famous for his creation of characters. Some of them are immortal characters. Shakespearean characters look like real people. In Hamlet we find the following characters:
A. Hamlet: Hamlet is the protagonist of the play. The entire play revolves round his character. He is the prince of Denmark. He is brave and intelligent. The name of his father is King Hamlet. He is now dead and the viewers see only his Ghost. Hamlet’s mother is Gertrude. After the death of the king of Denmark she has become the wife of Claudius. Claudius is the suspected murderer of Hamlet’s father. He is the uncle of Hamlet. The daughter of Polonius named Ophelia loves him. But she dies young. When the Ghost of Hamlet’s father accuses Claudius of his murder and demands revenge, Hamlet starts his mission of taking revenge of his father’s murder. Doubt makes him indecisive. Unfortunately he delays. It is his real problem. He pretends to be mad. But when Hamlet comes to know the truth of his father’s murder, he is resolute and fearless. Unfortunately he dies at the end of this play. It is pathetic.
B. King Hamlet: King Hamlet is the father of Hamlet, the protagonist of the play. He is now dead. We see only his Ghost, dressed in armour. According to Hamlet he was a model of perfection. Claudius, the uncle of Hamlet, is the suspected murderer of King Hamlet. The dead King accuses Claudius of his murder. He urges Hamlet to take revenge of his murder.
C. Claudius: Claudius is the villain of the play. After the death of King Hamlet, he has usurped the throne. He has become the king of Denmark. He is the younger brother of the king. He is the uncle of Prince Hamlet. He is newly married to Gertrude who is Hamlet’s mother. At first he seems to be courteous and efficient. But in reality he is shrewd and clever like fox. The play reveals him as a damned villain.
D. Gertrude: Gertrude is the widow of King Hamlet. She is the queen of Denmark. She is the mother of Hamlet. She married Claudius as soon as her first husband was dead. Hamlet is very sorry at this. She speaks little in the play.
E. Ophelia: She is the daughter of Polonius who is a faithful councilor of Claudius. She has a brother named Laertes. She has deep love for Hamlet. She is pure and innocent. She is of passionate nature. She is capable of arousing passionate feelings in Hamlet. After her father’s murder she becomes mad. She dies young.
F. Polonius: Polonius is a trusted councellor of the new king named Claudius. He is the father of Ophelia and Laertes. He is very intelligent. It is he who believes that Hamlet’s madness is not real but artificial.
G. Laertes: He is the son of Polonius. Ophelia is his sister. He is passionate in defence of his family honour. He is used by Polonius against Hamlet.
H. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: They have been presented as school friends of Hamlet. The circumstances compel them to be against Hamlet. Claudius uses them as instrument against Hamlet.
I. Fortinbras: He is an active character of the play Hamlet. He is the complete opposite of Hamlet, although their situations are alike. Fortinbras’s uncle has also usurped his brother’s throne.
J. Horatio: Horatio is Hamlet’s friend. He is a model of friendship.