Abstract: This essay uses psychoanalytic, new historicism, and deconstructive methods of criticism to expore the scene in which Hamlet stands before Claudius and Gertrude after he has killed Polonius. The oblective is to provide a better understanding of how Shakespeare uses the events in the play as a means of shaping or changing Hamlet's actions or emotions
Hamlet is a character with emotions that are so complex and intriguing that we, as readers or viewers, are drawn into this story until Hamlet's situations, actions, and feelings become things we can understand, and relate to, as if his emotions were as human as our own. This genuineness Hamlet holds creates for this play an audience who wishes to examine the character of Hamlet in hopes of grasping a better understanding of how Shakespeare uses the events in the play as a means of shaping or changing Hamlet's actions or emotions. The scene in which Hamlet stands before Claudius and Gertrude after he has killed Polonius is a scene particularly worth examining in this respect, because it allows us to see one of the most interesting changes that Hamlet undergoes in the play and how his inner-emotions or thoughts affect his behavior. To explore this engaging scene I will employ the use of psychoanalytic, new historicism, and deconstructive methods of criticism.
By scene three of act 4 Hamlet has already confronted his mother about his father's murder, he has killed Polonius, and taken Polonius's body. This scene finds Hamlet standing before Claudius and Gertrude the next day. When asked where the body of Polonius is Hamlet answers in a calm, yet odd way, "At supper" (4.3.17). Hamlet explains this simple answer ...
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...ve otherwise overlooked. In such a scene as the one examined here we are able to think more intensely about the complexity of Hamlet and think about the way situations and events presented in this play may have shaped this character's actions. Hopefully this examination can make the reading or viewing of this play more enjoyable and profound.
Adelman, Janet. "'Man and Wife is One Flesh': Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body." Hamlet: William Shakespeare. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. New York: Bedford, 1994. 256-279.
Murfin, Ross C. "Deconstruction and Hamlet." Wofford. 283-293.
---. "Feminist Criticism and Hamlet." Wofford. 208-215.
---. "Psychoanalytic Criticism and Hamlet." Wofford. 241-251.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. T. J. B. Spencer. New York: Penguin, 1996.
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