Hamlet: Universal Themes

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Hamlet English Assessment

Hamlet is a famous Shakespearean play and also boasts major popularity as an English literature text. The text was written early in the 17th century (being performed in 1603) and its ability to last the test of time is solely due to the universal themes that Shakespeare has infused it with. These universal themes include repentance, revenge and madness or more precisely feigned madness. In this essay context, techniques, critical analysis and these key universal themes will be described so that the timelessness of Hamlet can be recognised and understood. The play Hamlet is a revenge tragedy that was written during the Elizabethan era where Christianity was cemented in the people’s culture. A revenge tragedy depicts the journey of a central figure as they seek vengeance; a fatal flaw often complicates their journey towards vengeance and becomes the cause of the characters’ end, usually occurring shortly after the character completes the act of revenge. The character of Hamlet links to the context of the time as at the time, the uprising of the Renaissance Humanist movement was occurring and Shakespeare uses this as he portrays Hamlets character as an intelligent humanist. One of the universal themes that Hamlet includes is gaining repentance for sin; this is a major scene in the play that which is most evident in Act 3, Scene 3. In this scene we see Claudius desperately trying to attain some salvation over the rush of guilt that Hamlet’s play has placed upon him because of the crime he committed – “a brother’s murder”. The strong use of imagery and personification highlights Claudius great level of struggle that he is undergoing due to his crime “Oh my offence is rank...” and the metaphor he finishes the sentence with “... it smells to heaven”. At this point Hamlet has found Claudius, yet still struggles to kill him as he does not believe that Claudius deserves to be sent to heaven for being killed while he is in prayer. This is an...
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