Hamlet as a Critical Study

Topics: Hamlet, Ghost, Characters in Hamlet Pages: 5 (2004 words) Published: June 24, 2013
What will continue to make Hamlet worthy of Critical study?

Why is Hamlet still relevant to our studies regardless of the centuries that have passed since its production? Is it worthy in continuing to be a critical study? The reinterpretation that Shakespeare created of Hamlet was based on a number of previous plays including the 12th century Danish Amleth, both these plays are situated around the main theme of being revenge tragedies. The prime aspect of why Hamlet will continue to be relevant as a critical study is due to the themes that the play is centralised around such as existentialism, corruption and illusion vs. reality. These universal themes engage audiences of any society, even four centuries later, creating a timeless classic. The literary devices utilised within the play, such as the iambic pentameter, antithetical language and word play create an engaging atmosphere which captures the imagination of any audience making it worthy of a critical study. The ambiguity, open ended, and unanswered questions that Shakespeare utilises leaves the audience open to interpretation, thus allowing the play to relate to the specific context to which it is being viewed and studied. This makes it worthy of a critical study as a personal response is erected and the audience is emotionally involved with the play as they find common grounds with the universality of themes and notions presented. This can be seen through differing productions of Hamlet such as Damien Ryans play and Tony Richardsons film, which are directed to sustain an audiences engagement regardless of the context. Shakespeare uses techniques such as metatheatre and a mouse-trap to further engage the audience and reflect on himself respectively as the audience can see that both Shakespeare and Hamlet use the theatricality of the play to withdraw emotion from their selected audience. Through these techniques and thematic concerns, along with the central plot, it is shown why Hamlet is worthy of critical study.

Act I Scene V of Hamlet serves as a key scene in the play as it is when Hamlet is commanded by the ghost to revenge his "foul and most unnatural murder." In this scene Hamlet is told that Claudius is to blame for the death of his father and the ghost exhorts Hamlet to seek revenge, telling him that Claudius has corrupted Denmark and corrupted Gertrude, having taken her from the pure love of her first marriage and seduced her in the foul lust of their incestuous union. Corruption is exposed within this scene due to the focus that the ghost sets on Gertrude and her domestic affairs rather than the political state that Denmark is undergoing. The ghost has exposed himself to Hamlet for the first and last time as the audience is told, and rather than focusing on the political state of the country as the honourable king would do, the ghost insists on complaining about his beloved Gertrude marrying his brother, the ghost even says "Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest". This represents corruption as the audience would have expectations of the original king to have a higher concentration for the future of his country rather than the scandalous affairs of his widow. An act of corruption is also exposed to the audience when Hamlet learns that Claudius, the machiavellian character, has performed the shocking act of killing a king also known as regicide, the ghost explains Claudius to be "the serpent which did sting thy fathers life now wears his crown" which presents the contextual view of regicide, as he portrays him in a negative manner. Contextually, the Elizabethans watching the play would have found these acts of treason completely taboo and unacceptable emphasising the density of corruption in the scene and even to this day, such acts of treason have a severe penalty as they are completely deplorable. Through this we can see the significance of the situation and how it relates to any context making it worthy of a...
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