Religion in Hamlet

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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare is one of the most famous and influential tragedies of all time. Shakespeare wrote Hamlet—and most of his other tragedies—at the beginning of his career in the early 1600s (Shakespeare’s Career). The tragedy genre was developed long before Shakespeare. A central idea of the tragedy genre is that the audience must favor the protagonist, but the protagonist must be flawed and capable of both good and evil (Revenge in Hamlet). In the tragedy, Hamlet thinks instead of simply turning to rage for his revenge. The plot of the play is that Hamlet is unable to commit revenge on Claudius. Hamlets inability to take revenge—avenging the death of his father-- creates a plot where Polonius, Ophelia, Gertrude, Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern all die in the process(Jamieson). The reason for the destructive nature of Hamlet’s revenge was not caused by the delay—or the fact the he was taking revenge alone. In The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Shakespeare does not portray revenge and either acceptable, nor does he make a statement on whether revenge is better taken with careful thought or without delay. Shakespeare’s only clear statement is that revenge should not be taken against members of one’s own nation.

A crucial part of history of England—still fresh in the mind of Shakespeare—was the drama between clashing monarchs on religion. The official religion of England kept switching between Catholicism and Protestantism before and during Shakespeare’s life. There was a clash between these two religions. This caused disunity between the members of the royal family and those in power. That disunity caused a schism amongst the people (Bassett). This disunity caused some hard times and bloodshed.

The revenge plot begins when Hamlet is approached by the ghost of his father. Hamlet says to the ghost, “speak, I am bound to hear”. The Ghost says to Hamlet, “So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear”...
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