Hamlet Madness

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The question of what is humanity’s ultimate purpose in this life is a question that people across the centuries have attempted to answer. Although William Shakespeare originally wrote Hamlet with the intention that his work would be performed for an audience comprised of people from the different social classes in Renaissance England, I believe that Shakespeare’s play continues to be studied today because of the way in which it explores issues so pertinent to the human condition. The fact that Hamlet has endured for so long is a testament to it’s universality, as the exploration of our purpose in this life is an issue that extends beyond cultural and historical barriers. Although there are many readings of Hamlet, my own critical understanding of the play has been informed by my interpretation of the character of Hamlet and, specifically, the way in which Shakespeare uses his character as a means of showing how meaning in life can be found by fighting for what we perceive to be right. Hamlet teaches us that it is moral conviction and a determination to see injustices reversed that compels us to act.

In his work Shakespeare manipulates the dramatic structure of the play to build anxiety in the minds of the audience and tension on stage, highlighting the relationship that exists between an individual feeling oppressed by forces out of their control and their reflection about the broader meaning of life that flows from such experiences. This building of tension can be seen particularly in the early interactions of Prince Hamlet and Claudius. My interpretation of the structure of the play is supported by J.K. Wilson who wrote that “the play scene…is constructed so as to emphasise the conflict between Hamlet and Claudius”. Claudius, for example, tells Hamlet that mourning for his father is “unmanly grief” that “shows a will most incorrect to heaven” to which Hamlet expresses his dissatisfaction with the speed of Claudius’ marriage saying that “the funeral baked...
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