Importance Of Minor Characters In Hamlet

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A variety of characters make an appearance throughout Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet and all play a role in the overall work of the play. Three minor characters in particular are able to give further understanding on Hamlet’s character and the work as a whole: the gravediggers from Act IV, Yorick from Act IV, and Fortinbras prince of Norway. A minor character differs from major characters because they are more static, appear only briefly in the play with limited dialogue, and the decisions they make do not make a huge impact on the overall plot. The gravediggers and Yorick alike fit this bill perfectly, as they only appear in Act V, Scene 1. They do not grow as characters through more development or changing behavior from the beginning of their …show more content…
This is significant because with minor characters to have to compare Hamlet with, it makes Hamlet into an even greater hero than he is by looking larger than life when compared to the smaller characters. This is important for a tragedy because it helps the audience become more invested in the main character, forcing them to be deeper impacted by the loss of his life at the end of the play. His potential lost was made even greater. A common motif which is seen again and again throughout the play is the comparison of a sickly interior versus a healthier exterior. The gravediggers are a physical embodiment of this motif within characters of the play, further highlighting this motif. The gravediggers appear as they are digging Ophelia’s grave after she has drowned, which is significant because it …show more content…
Through Hamlet’s interaction with the gravediggers, he becomes humbled and begins to meditate on death, in addition to getting to interact with the common man. He learns much from them and their view of the kingdom highlights how corrupt Hamlet’s family is. They also bring Yorick onto the scene, which gives the audience a glimpse into Hamlet’s childhood and some of his background experience before the events of the play started. It shows how youthful and happy he was, which highlights his moody and depressed nature that is rampant throughout the story. Fortinbras being Hamlet’s foil is extremely important because both boys went through the loss of their father and while they both seek avenge their fathers, the difference in their lives is drastic. For one, Fortinbras’ uncle did not marry Fortinbras’ newly widowed mother, which was a horrible experience for Hamlet and only spurred on Hamlets need for revenge further. This also shows evidence of how corrupt the kingdom of Denmark was when it is compared to the kingdom of Norway, especially since Old Hamlet died by the hand of his own brother. In a way, Fortinbras is representative of what Hamlet could’ve been if it had not been for his familial problems. Fortinbras is simply seeking to avenge his father, while Hamlet must redeem his father from Purgatory. Fortinbras’ readiness to action highlights Hamlet’s impotence

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