Most of the revenge-tragic aspect of the Shakespearean play Hamlet is explicitly presented. Some is disguised as straight tragedy, for example, Ophelia’s insanity and death; and some is implied tragedy found in the history of verbal allusions.
In the essay “An Explication of the Player’s Speech,” Harry Levin discusses the implied tragic dimension of the “Hecuba” soliloquy:
But the lyrical note can prevail no more than the epical, since Shakespeare’s form is basically tragic; and here his classical model is indicated when Polonius, introducing the Players, warns: “Seneca cannot be too heavy.” From “English Seneca read by candlelight,” according to Thomas Nashe, playwrights were lifting handfuls – or were they Hamlets? – of “tragical speeches.” (31)
Howard Felperin sees in Hamlet a return to the once-extinct revenge play (Felperin 105). Although defunct for awhile, the revenge tragedy resurrected prior to the date of Hamlet’s composition.
The prince has a possible motive for revenge from the very outset: he is dejected by the “o’erhasty marriage” of his mother to his uncle. Hamlet’s first soliloquy sees the expression of his negative feelings and their growth in intensity; it emphasizes the corruption of the world and the frailty of women:
Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month—
Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!—(1.2)
Based on the meeting of the hero and Horatio, A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy presents convincing evidence of the depth of the hero’s melancholy – is it potent enough to perform rev...
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...ry Rhetoric in the Renaissance. N.p.: Yale University Press, 1976.
Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.
Mack, Maynard. “The World of Hamlet.” Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. Rev. ed. Ed. Leonard F. Dean. New York: Oxford University P., 1967.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.
Wright, Louis B. and Virginia A. LaMar. “Hamlet: A Man Who Thinks Before He Acts.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar. N. p.: Pocket Books, 1958.
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