Claudius

Claudius is the antagonist in the play Hamlet written by Shakespeare. In the very beginning, the ghost reveals to Hamlet the true nature of Claudius as someone who killed his brother and married his wife.

He seems to be aware of his crime but what makes him a villain is his denial from confessing it and furthermore attempts to hide his crime and disassemble the son of his brother to whom he pretends his absolute affection.

His villainy is complicated further with an almost Hamlet-like self-awareness but his morals are completely rotten. His first crime which is betraying his brother is the act which can be considered as the source of the whole plot’s crimes. He has a great pursuing capacity which he shows while luring Laertes into his plan for killing Hamlet by betrayal in a fencing match.

Horatio

Horatio, a character in the play Hamlet is a friend to the protagonist Hamlet. They studied together at Wittenberg University so it shows his close familiarity with him. Hamlet trusts him completely which is evident when together they swear before the ghost to keep that event as a secret.

He is a true friend because his goodness remains uncorrupted in such a corrupt world shown in the play. Towards the end, when Hamlet is dying, Horatio also wants to drink that poisoned wine but Hamlet entrusts him with a greater responsibility of putting things in order and tells the complete story to the world. It shows Horatio’s integrity as a human being.

Fortinbras 

Fortinbras is the name shared by two minor characters in the play Hamlet. In the very beginning, it’s King Fortinbras of Norway who is killed by Hamlet’s father.

The one who is till the end of the play with minor references in between is crown prince Fortinbras. His character is a revengeful one. Unlike two others i.e. Hamlet and Laertes, Fortinbras avenge his father’s death smoothly.

When chided by Claudius earlier for his attempt to attack, he adopts a much cunning way to enter Denmark by pretending that his army is marching towards Poland but at the end of the play he is in the castle to witness the entire erasing of Denmark royal family.

Overall it shows his smart capacity as a leader of the army and strong mind deemed to be a ruler which never gives up.

Yorick

Yorick is an already dead clown once professionally employed in the court whose skull is exhumed by the gravedigger in the play Hamlet’s Fifth Act. The fact that he was a jolly clown adds a solid effect to Hamlet’s philosophical speculation on meaningless mortality of human beings.

Hamlet contemplates while looking at the skull that it once had lips which he kissed and where are his merriments and his songs which entertained everybody. His brief reference is used to reflect the inevitability of death which remains in the prime thought of Hamlet.

It is a very common motif shown in the European artworks during the age of Shakespeare. Hamlet’s contemplation on this skull is a visible enactment of his thoughts regarding death.

The Gravediggers

The Gravediggers briefly appear in the play Hamlet in its last Act. Shakespeare employs such characters in a recurring fashion who are mostly known as Shakespearean fools too. Here, Hamlet encounters them when they’re digging the grave for Ophelia who supposedly committed suicide.

In their earthly wit, they discuss matters of great morals. They discuss whether Ophelia should get a Christian burial because she committed suicide. It is a question of great theological importance.

The fact that they’re full of riddles stops us from articulating them as simple gravediggers. They seem to be bringing out the best out of Hamlet’s thoughts on existence and its meaning. They are unable to recognise Hamlet in person so when they talk about his madness, it gives us a perspective of how Hamlet is being thought of by common people out in the realm. The Gravediggers also provide an opportunity to think of death objectively. They are like characters of dark comedy.

They are unable to recognise Hamlet in person so when they talk about his madness, it gives us a perspective of how Hamlet is being thought of by common people out in the realm. The Gravediggers also provide an opportunity to think of death objectively. They are like characters of dark comedy.

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