Melancholy possesses Hamlet in a way that makes us feel he must have been very close with his father; although he doesn’t mention any specifics regarding their time together, he does give us a glimpse into how hard this loss hits him:
“I have that within which passes show, these but the trappings and the suits of woe.”
Hamlet is telling us that what he feels is something beyond what can be demonstrated. Perhaps he is bitter because he never got to say a final goodbye, or maybe he is struck by the thought of never seeing his father’s living face again:
“I shall not look upon his like again.”
Whatever it is, the young Hamlet we meet in this play is a much different one than the one we might have met in Wittenberg.
Hamlet shuts down; he gives up school, [forgoes] “all customs of exercises,”& becomes a murderer.
If by chance Hamlet were to survive the action of the play and be tried for the murder of Claudius and Polonius, his defense would be laughable.
This play serves as a cautionary tale that when we suffer “outrageous fortune” we need to pause and consider our next course of action, before we become a version of ourselves that we don’t recognize.