Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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Transcending its own context, Shakespeare's revenge tragedy Hamlet, has reached beyond its 17th century Elizabethan context to still be relevant today. Many believe it is not the play that changes, but the audience that views them. Despite this, Hamlet is still viewed today in a similar manner as a significantly noteworthy play, exploring issues involving corruption in society as well as one's inner struggle to maintain morality, of which are still relevant in contemporary, 21st century society. It is through the corruption of the state and the characterisation of Hamlet and his struggles which Shakespeare utilises to make transcending observations about the human condition, portraying an array of contextual values, consequently deeming it highly worthy of a critical study.

Hamlet's struggle between his consciousness and instincts reveal an insight into the human condition and values which are still pertinent today. Written during the period between the medieval world and Renaissance culture, Shakespeare challenges the structures outlined by Aristotle and Senecan revenge tragedies through his characterisation of Hamlet. Hamlet's inability to act is predominately caused by his inner struggle as a scholar and as a son wanting to avenge his father, revealed through "the time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!". Cursing his own fate, Shakespeare utilises the rhyme to emphasise Hamlet's reluctance to carry out the revenge. Further depicted in "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all", Hamlet's consciousness is what causes his inner struggle to take action. Hamlet, as a young humanist, is conscious of how his rational beliefs prevent him from achieving his goals which require savagery inducing h...

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...otif of diseases to portray the underlying social corruption. Accentuated through the irony in "Diseases desperate grown by desperate appliance are relieved, or not at all", the recurring motif of diseases is again used to exemplify the drastic nature of corruption which has spread and the drastic means needed to be taken to rid the state of venality. Written during a period in which society believed in the natural order of the world, it was common ideology that the king was closely tied to the state. The metaphor in "A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark is by a forged process of my death" further reflects these values and reinforces the idea of corruption, underpinning the entire play. Shakespeare weaves throughout Hamlet the concept of corruption, which is correspondingly still evident in today's society to establish a play worthy of a critical study.

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