Hamlet: Critical Essay

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What have you come to understand about the intense human relationships of Hamlet? How has this understanding been affected by the perspectives of others? In you response you should focus on 3 scenes in the play and a range of perspectives.

The intense human relationships of Hamlet have been viewed through numerous perspectives yet all have reached the same conclusions. With the exception of just one, the friendship of Hamlet and Horatio, all the relationships are dishonourable, dysfunctional and destined to fail. Being a revenge tragedy it is immediately clear this play is filled with lies, deceit and treachery.

The exact time of Hamlet’s composition is unknown, however it is assumed to be between 1599 and 1602. This was a dark, melancholy time in Shakespeare’s life with the death of his father in 1601 and the death of his only son, Hamnet aged 11, in 1596. It is believed that these events had a significant impact on the writing of Hamlet as the play is heavy with death and has a great similarity with this son’s name.

Some perspectives that have been adopted to view and understand the intense human relationships of Hamlet are a religious, psychoanalytic and feminist perspective. When Shakespeare first wrote Hamlet he lived in a strongly religious society where people could be fined for not attending church. Therefore, at this time in history many people had a religious attitude and perspective on the play. The psychoanalytical perspective focuses on the unconscious mind and how it dictates behaviour. This perspective became popular when Sigmund Freud, a well-known psychologist, began developing his psychoanalytic theory, The Oedipus Complex, in 1897. The feminist perspective is often centred around strong women and became particularly popular in the 1950’s being a post world war 2 period. Women were involved in many aspects of the war and made ground in their equality with men. However, when the war ended, women were encouraged to return to their...
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