Hamlet by William Shakespeare

May 9, 2012
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Hamlet's Homosexuality:

Although Shakespeare’s Hamlet is well known throughout the entire world today, and is perhaps one of the most commonly analyzed literary works of modern European culture, there is a key theme that is nearly always overlooked or ignored. This important theme that is often ignored is Hamlet’s homosexuality. While some will deny this, others believe it and claim that even “Shakespeare was gay” (Charles). I have found that Shakespeare made it apparent that Hamlet is homosexual through his attitude, actions, and words. It is noticeable that Hamlet’s behavior around and towards women is far different than his conduct with men, specifically with Horatio. Even as early as the fourth scene of the first act, while speaking with Horatio, Hamlet states-
“So, oft it chances in particular men,
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth--wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin”

This is meant to show that he is homosexual, and that he is quite aware of it. He is sharing this rare fact with none other than Horatio, and is sure to explain that these men are not guilty. Not only this alone, but he often expresses his love and appreciation for and to the men around him while treating and speaking to the women rashly.

Hamlet does not merely lack an attraction to women, but has an actual disdain for the gender as a whole. He has no respect for them and is often rude or strict with them. At one point he refutes Ophelia’s statement: “‘Tis brief my lord” saying, “As a woman’s love” (3.2.134-135).
In this statement he is indirectly claiming that women have little to no ability to love. He feels no remorse in this kind of behavior towards women; he even tries various times to justify it.
“Let me be cruel, not unnatural:
I will speak daggers to her” (3.2.357-358)
“I must be cruel” (3.4.177)

He acts as though it would be an oddity for him to not be cruel to women. Yet another display of his rudeness is his mocking of them. Knowing that Ophelia was attracted and affectionate towards him he taunted her. He purposely gave her false hope, immediately after telling her how stupid she is, by saying to her “I did love you once” (3.1.114). He then proceeds to state the truth: that he never loved her, to which she reveals “I was the more deceived” (3.1.118). Now, having lost all his patience, he commands her to go to a nunnery. He also tells her that he would rather have not been born than to have loved her- “accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me” (3.1.120-121). This makes it completely clear that he is homosexual and will always continue to be such, stating he would prefer never existing to loving a woman. He is even incapable of loving his own mother. Throughout the story he is almost constantly complaining and condemning her for being disloyal to his father, which only further proves to him that women are incapable of truly loving anyone. Yet on his deathbed, he holds to his homosexual nature and voices his haughty farewell to his mother, “Wretched queen, adieu!” (5.2.306).

The way in which Hamlet interacts with and thinks about men is quite different from his attitude towards women. It has been said that- "In his relationships with these most intimate of his associates, Hamlet offers open friendship, honorable treatment, and unfailing courtesy" (Aichinger). He speaks to them often, refers to them as friends, and enjoys their company. Once, when he inquired why they had come to wait upon him they simply state “To visit you, my lord; no other occasion” (2.2.257). The men he associates with are definitely comfortable with him, and he with them; they openly tell, and reassure, each other of their love-
“O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly” (3.2.317-318)
“Rosencrantz: My lord, you once did love me.
Hamlet: So I do still” (3.2.304-305)
“With all my love I do commend me to you” (1.5.183)

Even with these signs of Hamlet’s homosexuality, many readers brush them aside and continue to be blissfully ignorant; however, the sign that refuses to be cast into the shadows is Hamlet’s memories of Yorick. As Hamlet holds his skull he tells Horatio of him and starts talking to the skull, asking Yorick questions, although he knows him to be dead. Hamlet is so abhorred by these memories that he even admits “Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft” (5.1.164-165). This shows that Hamlet not only has a homosexual nature and desire, but also that he has acted upon it. This is one of the strongest, most obvious details that prove Hamlet to be homosexual.

Obviously the closest relationship is that of Hamlet and Horatio, many people take this as merely a friendship, but there is definitely a deeper bond between the two men. It has been said, “Horatio seems to treat Hamlet less as a prince than as a person. Little wonder that Hamlet will find Horatio himself so appealing” (Evans). Perhaps this is why they are so often found together or nearby each other. With how much time they spend together and the amount of knowledge they share, it is undeniable that they trust each other. Along with their friendship, respect, and trust they also express their love for one another, openly. The things they say to each other and the ways that they address each other also helps to show the level of their relationship.
“Here, sweet lord, at your service” (3.2.43)
“I am glad to see you well” (1.2.160)
“O, my dear” (3.2.46)
“I’ll change that name with you” (1.2.163)

When Hamlet dies Horatio is the one by his side to listen to and comfort him. As he feels the poison killing him he drags out his heartfelt farewell to Horatio, giving far more of his effort and affection to him than he gave to his mother when her life was taken by the same poison. Horatio, just as affectionately and emotionally attached to Hamlet as Hamlet is to he, sullenly watches him fade from life and shares his last farewell- “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” (5.2).

As you can see this theme could easily be overlooked or ignored, but is nonetheless there. If one is to truly understand Hamlet they must be able to see his disdain for women, recognize his love for men, and uncover his relationship with Horatio. They must determine his attitude, watch his actions, and listen to his words to fully comprehend who Hamlet is. For some it is required that they leave their comfort zone to accept Hamlet for what he is, regardless, he will change for no one. Hamlet is homosexual; and he does not believe he could handle existence any other way.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

brittindresses said...
Sept. 26, 2016 at 12:17 pm
When was this article posted?
Horatio said...
Feb. 5, 2015 at 1:36 pm
Hamlet was 7 when Yorick died.
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