A clear transition in Hamlet’s thoughts is noticed if his character is analyzed Act by Act. In the beginning, he is presented as a deeply melancholic prince who is obsessed with his deceased father and death in general. As time passes, he keeps falling deeper in the pit of misery and melancholy. By Act 2, he seems more frustrated than melancholic due to not being able to take the life of his uncle, Claudius. In Act 3, he becomes obsessive about suicide and thinks people should end their miserable lives by suicide. However, he also has a fear of the afterlife which keeps him from taking his life. Research also confirms that by Act 5, Hamlet becomes a changed man (Prosser, 1971, p. 219). Here, this character seems mature and deep.
Hamlet’s soliloquies in Act 5 also illustrate his better understanding of matters related to life and death. He becomes a much more sensible man. In one of his conversations with his friend Horatio in Act 5, Hamlet says, “there’s a divinity that shapes our ends” (V.ii.9, cited in Price, 2014, p. 174). Here, Hamlet is seen acknowledging the power of fate which he never did before in any of previous acts. He was much hotheaded previously to acknowledge anything besides his free will. However, in Act 5, he agrees on the significance of divine intervention which is known to shape our lives and ends. Hamlet’s character in Act 5 is different than how he comes across from Acts 1-4 on grounds of a change in his perception. This change in perception causes him to believe in his destiny.
Price, Joseph G. (2014). Hamlet: Critical Essays. Routledge.
Prosser, E. (1971). Hamlet and Revenge. Stanford University Press.