What Will Make Hamlet Worthy of Continued Critical Study?

Topics: Paradox, Critical thinking, Contradiction Pages: 4 (1441 words) Published: August 26, 2013
Your class has been exploring the question, ‘What will continue to make Hamlet worthy of critical study?’

Your personal response has been challenged by another student. Defend your response through a critical evaluation of Hamlet, analysing the construction, content and language of the text.

Any critical evaluation of the play “Hamlet” must be chiefly concerned with the character of Hamlet. Unlike Shakespeare’s other tragedies, “Hamlet” is singular in purpose and scope-it is the story of one man’s personal and moral collapse under the weight of his own (and other’s) decisions, intentions and machinations. The play is not complicated with subplots and extraneous secondary characters, but is wholly focused on the man himself. This dedication to a singular dramatic intention paradoxically makes for “Hamlet” to be, subjectively, Shakespeare most confusing play. It is problematic in its protagonists’ inscrutability, his missing motives, his contradictory actions, and his utter implacability to settle into one stable character. Almost everything he does further contradicts him as an individual in the world of the play and as a dramatic character. For this reason my critical evaluation of the play is that it is artistically self defeating due to its own subversions of character and dramatic convention, and this should render it unfulfilling and disappointing as a dramatic performance. Paradoxically, the plays confusion renders it all the more infuriatingly readable-it is both alienating and enticing, a work which defeats itself in its own realisation and at the same time is only worthwhile and meaningful in this artistic enigma-the individual components should not work, yet it does strike a powerful emotional and dramatic resonance in its completion. Many aspects of “Hamlet” as a text are easily criticised-it is certainly a work with a large amount of problems. However, in a rather subversive and mysterious manner the play is a wonderful work of...
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