The Tragedy Of William Shakespeare 's Hamlet

1549 Words7 Pages
In every society throughout history, there has been a common fear of the disastrous collapse of the world around them, resulting. This “fear” has resulted in numerous stories and religious beliefs surrounding the apocalyptic fall of man’s corrupted society, including the Book of Revelation, the final book of the Christian Bible. William Shakespeare’s tragedies, especially the tragedies written in the early 1600s, all display this collapse of authority in one way or another. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the classic example of this prevalent break down of society. Prince Hamlet learns that his uncle-father King Claudius murdered his father and, thus, assumed the throne and gained his mother’s hand in marriage. The revelation is then followed by even more treacherous acts of hatred, vengeance, conspiracy, and murder, resulting in a final “mass-slaying” of the royal family and leading to the survival of only one of the “nobles”: Horatio, Hamlet’s loyal friend. There have been many criticisms exploring and providing possible answers to the author’s motivation behind his or her literary work. In Hamlet in particular, many people have written and discussed the reasoning behind the dramatic, tragic slaughter at the end of the book and, more importantly, why only one of the original character’s survived. According to New Historicism, there is a connection between the trend of rising and falling empires to the Catholic and the Protestant belief in the Second Coming of Christ. Also, New Historicism has asserted that Shakespeare had a degree of association with the Catholic resistance, leading to the conclusion that there is importance to the Catholicism references in Hamlet. Nancy Armstrong quotes a famous New Historicist, Michel Foucault, in “S... ... middle of paper ... ...people in the rising popularity of the Church of England, the fall of the prevalence of the Catholic Church, and the Puritan upheval. The foreboding nature surrounding King Hamlet’s return from Purgatory, the rapid fall of Denmark, and the use of the character Horatio as a silent, but attentive witness (Halverson 67) made the message Shakespeare was trying to convey quite clear to the hyper-aware Catholic and Puritan minority and Protestant majority. So, in conclusion, Shakespeare 's knowledge of Catholicism is enough to support the interpretation of a Hamlet because his use of Purgatory, the fall of “Man’s Great Empires” and of one of the characters as the salvation bringing witness created a tragically apocalyptic play that captured the attention of a society humming with “unrest” of the Puritan movement and the slow rise to the English Civil War in the mid 1600s.
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