William Shakespeare's Hamlet

2481 Words10 Pages
William Shakespeare's Hamlet When first introduced to Hamlet he is a character full of pain and confusion, still mourning his father’s death, ‘But two months dead-nay, not so much, not two’.[1] The punctuation here highlights Hamlet’s anguish. Significantly, Hamlet is already portrayed as a misfit, as no one else within the court but Hamlet is wearing mourning clothes; in Shakespeare’s time it would have been worn for at least a year following the death of a king. This gives an immediate and striking indication of the character’s isolation, his alienation and the power Claudius has already obtained within the court. The rhythm of Hamlet’s words in first soliloquy ‘How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable’[2] conveys his weariness. In an emotional speech of anger, and grief, Hamlet explains that everything in his world is either hopeless or contemptible. Evidence of this is his suggestions of rot and corruption, ‘things rank and gross in nature’[3], and in the metaphor associating the world with ‘an unweeded garden’[4]. This suggests that Hamlet sees Denmark as a paradise destroyed by sexual sin, an interpretation immediately recognizable to an Elizabethan audience accustomed to biblical motifs. As he is isolated within the court he can be seen as a misfit; he is unhappy with the new regime and does not accept the way the court is portrayed. In addition, his powerlessness to counter the Machiavellian dominance of Claudius demands our sympathy. Shakespeare can be seen as presenting Hamlet as not only politically and emotionally alone, but also as a troubled character attempting to deal with complex and contradictory respo... ... middle of paper ... ... [5] I.2.154 [6] I.2.156-157 [7] I.2.140 [8] I.2.139-140 [9] II.II.14-17 [10] I.II.132 [11] II.II162-164 [12] II.II.600-601 [13] Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature by Augustus William Schlegel (1808), translated by John Black (London, 1846). [14]Coleridge's Shakespearean Criticism , ed. Thomas M. Raysor (London: Constable, 1930). [15] III.1.85 [16] II.2.594-596 [17] William Hazzlit: from Characters of Shakespeare's Plays, 1817 [18] Newell Shakespeare Bulletin: A Journal of Performance Criticism and Scholarship 9.4 (1991 Fall): 31-33 [19] II.II.561-563 [20] III.1.59-60 [21] III.3.383 [22] III.3.84-87 [23] III.3.93 [24] IV.4.45-46 [25] IV.5.18-19 [26] IV.3.21-24 [27] IV.3.67-68 [28] V.II.57-58 [29] V.II.65-67

More about William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Open Document