Essay about William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Essay about William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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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

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