Barkov's Hamlet: a Tragedy of Errors

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, William Shakespeare Pages: 25 (6988 words) Published: April 17, 2005
William Shakespeare authorship:
The text of Hamlet contains indications
that Shakespeare portrayed himself as
an allegedly dead university graduate.

Alfred Barkov

To the contents

When the text of
William Shakespeare: a mask for Hamlet - Christopher Marlowe? William Shakespeare
Hamlet is read attentively, and no details are disregarded, it becomes evident that William Shakespeare included in it something quite different from what has been traditionally interpreted. According to the text, prince Hamlet was not a son to king Hamlet, king Hamlet has never been poisoned, pregnant Ophelia was drowned by prince Hamlet's half-brother. Though that might sound odd, the facts Shakespeare included in the text suggest that the plot of Hamlet has been perceived erroneously.

In what we traditionally consider to be the plot of Hamlet, there exist multiple contradictions and discrepancies which cannot be explained within the established interpretation. Even the age of the hero is not known for sure: Hamlet of the Act I is around twenty while in the Act V he appears to be thirty years old.

If we really rate Shakespeare's talent that highly as we use to proclaim, we have to exercise a different approach to the contradictions in Hamlet. That is, they must be treated as composition means intended by Shakespeare as integral parts of the structure of Hamlet. Attentive reading suggests that the contradictions reflect a sophisticated structure with two plots both containing seemingly the same cast of characters factually possessing with different biographies.

Though the real plot of Hamlet as it was intended by Shakespeare can be comprehended without employment of any theory, there was necessary to develop a version of Literary Theory capable to address the problems of decoding and describing the inner structure of special class of fiction called menippeah. Despite that Hamlet belongs to that class, in my paper, I avoided plunging into the issues of literary theory because the hidden content of any menippeah can be perceived with just attentive reading, Shakespeare's Hamlet being no exception.

Menippeah is different from the three known classes of fiction: the epics, the lyrics, and the drama. It employs a specific way of narrating widely used even in everyday communication (when irony is intended.) The principal structural feature of the 'mysterious' works including Hamlet is a special composition function of special characters, the Narrators with biased attitude towards the events they recount. According to Shakespeare's intention, the whole text of Hamlet is narrated by one of the characters who is Hamlet's half-brother, though we erroneously perceive him as if he were Shakespeare himself.

The nature of the contradictions is explained with the fact that the text of Hamlet contains two different plots, the one depicting the 'real' events in Elsinore (the prosaic passages), and the other being the text of the drama staged in the castle (the pentameter portion.) The plot of the staged pentameter drama features the 'real' persons with changed biographies. That is, the prince's age is twenty within the plot of the staged drama while the 'real' Hamlet who instructs the actors and watches and comments that drama is thirty. Moreover, it appears that he is king Hamlet's son only within the plot of the 'inner' drama. In 'reality', he is a son to king Fortinbras killed by his brother on the very day prince Hamlet was born. This feature was openly manifested in the First Quarto while in the Second Quarto as well as in the Folio it became disguised, and to reveal it, it's necessary to compare facts included in the text and apply some logic.

The character whom Shakespeare made to narrate the text had many reasons to conceal the truth; what has been apprehended as the content of Shakespeare's drama is actually the Narrator's faked account of the...
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