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The Significance of Death and Sex to William Shakespeare

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The Significance of Death and Sex to William Shakespeare

In this essay, I will consider Death and Sin in Shakespearean drama and I would like to look at three of Shakespeare's tragic plays: "Hamlet", "Othello" and "King Lear".

Shakespeare uses many themes in all his play that attract audiences throughout history. The things he wrote about are as relevant now as they were in his time. Death and Sin were issues that are always around. In his plays, Shakespeare could comment on these things and make audiences see things that they could not before.

In Hamlet, we can see clear examples of Death and Sin as significant to Shakespearean drama.

The first thing that points to both death and sin is the inclusion of a ghost in the play. The presence of a ghost became a conventional element to revenge tragedy, wherein the ghost would reveal why it was in purgatory and therefore haunting whomever it was haunting. The haunting was usually of someone in the same family who would then feel forced into revenging the ghosts death, such as Hamlet was haunted by his father and subsequently killed Claudius, the murderer.

Death in the form of a ghost was popular to revenge tragedy and was easily recognised by an audience. Shakespeare was aware of what his audience were looking for in a play and what would hold their interest and the supernatural seemed to hold great importance and interest in Elizabethan times. A recognised signal of something unnatural, the introduction of the ghost so early on in the play signifies straight away that something bad has happened and that a sin has been committed.

Hamlet himself describes in Act Once scene one that

" All is not well.

I doubt some foul play."

(Lines 255 --6)

Referring ...

... middle of paper ...

...ed for it.

In "King Lear", the dramatic chain of events resulting in so many sinners' deaths shows that cause and effect really does exist and that the two work together. Shakespeare was clever in the way he wove both elements into his plays. One didn't seem to be able to exist without the other.

I am not sure what audiences expected in Elizabethan times, but I am sure that entertainment was a vital element of expectation. Shakespeare wrote plays that reflected real life situations, such as that of Iagos jealousy, and showed what he believed would happen as his course of action continued. The anticipation of a play depends on its genre: tragedy, historical, comedy and so on. I believe death and sin are expectations for a tragic play, such as the ones I have looked at in this essay and I think that without them, the audience would be disappointed in the play.