Shakespeare’s revenge tragedy Hamlet has endured the tests of time and successfully lived on till our present era due to its exploration of prominent themes and core values which appeal to the human condition and resonate deeply in the contemporary world. Hamlet is open to a myriad of interpretations by a wide range of audiences which may transform throughout the examination of the play and thereby compels the viewer to reflect on its various aspects. Hamlet’s character, the nature of his madness, and Hamlet’s love for Ophelia are three facets of the play where my response has changed and developed.
One’s understanding of Hamlet’s character is highly susceptible to alterations as the play progresses. Initially, Hamlet’s period of deliberation and was perceived as cowardice, moral fastidiousness and over-intellectualisation to the point of apathy. An insight into Hamlet’s character through his second soliloquy where he concedes to his humiliating rhetorical question- “Am I a coward” by admonishing himself for being “pigeon-livered and lack gall” and failing to take action against “oppression”. Hamlet’s obsession with upholding morality at the expense of purging evil is further enhanced in his third soliloquy where he states “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”. This “conscience” prevents him from assembling the courage and determination to commence battle with Claudius despite knowing that he is a “smiling damned villain”.
However, with increasing knowledge of the Elizabethan Christian context, previous perceptions of Hamlet as a weak and indecisive character have been eclipsed. Firstly, the ghost of Hamlet’s father may have been “a spirit of health, or goblin damned” attempting to lure him into committing regicide and Shakespeare’s inclusion of superstitious elements influenced by the Elizabethan context ensures that such doubts and precautions are legitimate. The Christian context of the play accounts for Hamlet’s failure to seize revenge in the...
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