Hamlet a Domestic Play or a Commentary on Power Politics

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To what extent is Hamlet a domestic or a commentary of power politics at play?

In the early 1600s, the time that “Hamlet” was written, the themes of power politics related to the domestic would have been far more relevant to the audience as at this time, these two themes intertwined particularly within the monarchy which is hereditary meaning that the power comes from family. Again this link is demonstrated by James I’s 1603 speech to Parliament where he stated that he was “the Husband and the whole Isle [his] lawful wife” showing the domestic view of many political relations and also the idea of James I as a husband ruling over his country which was his wife. This also brings in another theme of power plays in Hamlet being demonstrated by patriarchal dominance, such as the power Polonius has over Ophelia. We also see the power of men on their families as a whole and how characters us their family links and loyalties to gain power.

Throughout “Hamlet” we see a number of sons avenging their fathers’ deaths, including old and young Fortinbras, Laertes and Polonius and old and young Hamlet. These draw attention to the domestic tragedy element of “Hamlet” and as to whether Hamlet seeks revenge for his father’s death due to his love for his father or because of his duty to him and the power Old Hamlet’s ghost has over Hamlet. When we see Hamlet speaking to the Ghost of Old Hamlet, it seems to be a close relationship with Old Hamlet expressing concerns for his son, stating “taint not the mind” suggesting that Hamlet should not allow the act of revenge to “taint” his morality. This is a bizarre ask from Old Hamlet as murder will undoubtedly affect Hamlet’s sense of morality. However, within their conversation, Hamlet’s obligation to avenge his father is also made apparent by the ghost himself who tells Hamlet that after hearing what he has to say, Hamlet will be “bound” to revenge. The word “bound” shows how Hamlet’s father expects Hamlet to avenge him and...
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