Spirituality in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Can anyone possibly deny the spirituality within the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet? Yes, some literary critics do. But most critics agree with the contention of this paper – that there is considerable spirituality present in the play. In his essay “Hamlet: His Own Falstaff,” Harold Goddard sees that Hamlet was made for “religion” and several other purposes: He [Hamlet] was made, that is, for religion and philosophy, for love and art, for liberty to “grow unto himself” – five forces that are the elemental enemies of Force. And this man is called upon to kill. It is almost as if Jesus had been asked to play the role of Napoleon (as the temptation in the wilderness suggests that in some sense he was). If Jesus had been, ought he to have accepted it? The absurdity of the question prompts the recording of the strangest of all the strange facts in the history of Hamlet: the fact, namely, that nearly all readers, commentators, and critics are agreed in thinking that it was Hamlet’s duty to kill, that he ought indeed to have killed much sooner than he did. (12) Goddard’s highlighting of the main question underlying the narrative of the play – a moral question – indicates the spiritual nature of Hamlet. Not all critics appreciate the spirituality in Hamlet. A.C. Bradley’s Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth presents a different interpretation regarding the presence of spirituality within the play: For although this or that dramatis persona may speak of gods or of God, of evil spirits or of Satan, of heaven and of hell, and although the poet may show us ghosts from another world, these ideas do not materially influence his representation of life, nor are they used... ... middle of paper ... ...Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Rpt. from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981. Rosenberg, Marvin. “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Masks of Hamlet. Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 1992. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html West, Rebecca. “A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Court and the Castle. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957. Wilson, John Dover. What happens in Hamlet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1959.

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