Character Profile- Hamlet
Hamlet — The prince of Denmark, son of Gertrude, nephew of
Claudius, and heir to the throne. Hamlet is a deep thinker,
focusing on impossible to answer questions about religion,
death, truth, reality, and the motivations of others. He even
obsessively contemplates the fact that he obsessively
contemplates. He loves Ophelia and his mother, but his
mother's marriage to Claudius makes him mistrust and even
hate all women. He detests all forms of deception, yet plots and
pretends to be insane. At times he even seems to be insane.
Despite his obsessive thinking, he can act impulsively, as when
he kills Polonius. Hamlet is an enigma, a man so complex even
he doesn't completely know himself. In other words, he seems
like a real person—which has made Hamlet the most well
known character in English literature.
Character Profile- Claudius
Claudius — Hamlet's uncle, and Gertrude's second husband.
Power-hungry and lustful, Claudius murders his brother in
order to take the throne of Denmark and marry his wife.
Claudius is a great talker and schemer. He easily charms the
royal court into accepting his hasty marriage to his brother's
widow, and comes up with plot after plot to protect his ill-
gained power. He is the consummate politician, yet his hold on
power is always slightly tenuous. At various times he does show
guilt for killing his brother, and his love of Gertrude seems
Character Profile- Gertrude
Gertrude — Hamlet's mother. After Hamlet's father dies,
Gertrude quickly marries Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. Though she
is a good woman and loving mother, she is weak-willed and
unable to control her personal passions. Whether because of
lust, love, or a desire to maintain her status as queen, she
marries Claudius, though this is clearly a breach of proper
morals. Though some critics have argued that Gertrude might
have been involved in Claudius's plot to kill Old Hamlet,
evidence in the text suggests that she is unaware of and
uninvolved in the plot.
Character Profile- Polonius
Polonius — The Lord Chamberlain of Denmark, and the father
of Laertes and Ophelia, whom he loves deeply and wishes to
protect, even to the point of spying on them. Polonius is
pompous and long-winded, and has a propensity to scheme, but
without Hamlet's or Claudius's skill. He is very aware of his
position and role, and is always careful to try to be on the good
side of power.
Character Profile- Laertes
Laertes — Polonius's son and Ophelia's brother. Laertes is
hotheaded and passionate, and loves his family deeply. As a
man prone to action rather than thought who also seeks to
revenge the death of his father, he serves as a "double" to
Hamlet, providing numerous points of comparison.
Character Profile- Ophelia
Ophelia — Polonius's daughter, Laertes's sister, and Hamlet's
love. As a woman, Ophelia must obey the men around her and is
forced by her father first to stop speaking to Hamlet and then
to help spy on him. Ophelia's loyalty to her father and resulting
estrangement from Hamlet ultimately causes her to lose her
mind. Though Laertes and Fortinbras are the characters
usually seen as Hamlet's "doubles," Ophelia functions as a kind
of female double of Hamlet—mirroring Hamlet's half-madness
with her own full-blown insanity, and takes his obsession with
suicide a step further and actually commits it.