Greek Tragedy Exemplified in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Greek Tragedy Exemplified in Shakespeare's Hamlet

For several thousands of years, drama has existed among mankind. The ancient Greeks are accredited with the creation of drama, which began as simple religious rituals and eventually evolved into the more complex forms of tragedies and comedies. The first rules of drama, not surprisingly, were also written by a Greek--the famous philosopher and intellectual, Aristotle. Aristotle took note of the what qualities created a successful dramatic piece by observing a plethora of plays written by different Greek dramatists. As a result of what he observed, Aristotle compiled a set of guidelines to define the perfect tragedy. So influential, thorough, and well crafted were his writings that many poets and playwrights since have patterned their own works after them.

Aristotle noted six basic requirements for a good tragedy--plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and song. The most important of all of these is obviously the plot. The plot needs to have a beginning, which doesn't necessarily follow any event; a middle, which follows the beginning and causes the ending; and of course the finale, which is caused by the middle and does not itself cause any other event. Common sense, therefore, dictates that all of the acts need to be skillfully woven into one another instead of each act abruptly starting and abruptly ending. The last need of a good plot is the incorporation of situation reversals and scenes of recognition. These are almost always the most powerful parts of any good plot, as they invoke emotional interest in the viewer.

Character is the next most important aspect of the perfect tragedy after the plot. Every tragedy needs to contain a tragic hero. A complete vil...

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...oetic form of all of Shakespeare's plays is always well crafted and problems with wording are nonexistent. Hamlet also contains some of the most famous soliloquies that Shakespeare ever wrote. Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech is probably one of Shakespeare's best known speeches outside of Mark Antony's "friends, Romans, county men, lend me your ears" speech from Julius Caesar. Elements of song are also found in this play through the character Ophelia when she is in her maddened state.

Hamlet is most definitely a shining example of an ideal tragedy. Its plot, characters, and wording are all masterfully crafted. It is well thought out and flows smoothly. William Shakespeare has truly embraced Aristotle's idea of the perfect tragedy through his own Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Global Shakespeare Theatre Series. 1996.

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