Hamlet Essay

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2006 Question- To what extent has your personal response to Hamlet been shaped by the enduring power of Shakespeare's characterization of Hamlet.

Shakespeare's revenge tragedy Hamlet of the Renaissance period is an exemplification of human impotence, exploring how one's conscience is constrained through deceit, degeneration and conflicting morals. In this highly theatrical play, the aptitude of acting is demonstrated through its function of deceit, extrapolating the problematic relation between appearance and reality. Hamlet's obsession with death highlights the degeneration of humanity undergone by the inevitable fate of mortality which may lead to one's submission to providence. Set between the conflicting morals of the Renaissance period, there is a struggle to prioritize one's personal free will under the expected codes of duty, preventing the development self-identity.

Shakespeare communicates human impotence through the power of acting and its ability to deceive human understanding. The theme of theatre and deceit lies centrally in the metatheatre of the Mousetrap play where the boundaries of fiction and fact, appearance and reality are dissolved. Hamlet uses this manipulative device to effectively drill into Claudius’ guilty subconscious “to hold as t'were the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image”. Here Shakespeare victimizes the conscience utilizing theatre as a thief of cognitive free will. He also creates a complex layering as the audience members function as spectators observing the actors viewing the Mousetrap play. This technique evokes the invasion of the private and the fusion of theatre and reality. Moreover one can interpret the motif of theatre cleverly extrapolated through the final death scene as Claudius plots an act while Hamlet is “remiss...free from all contriving”, creating props such as the poisoned cup and sword. This further focalizes the problematic relation between appearance...
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