A review of Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Hamlet encompasses many elements characteristic to the tragedy genre of the Renaissance, including a personal search for revenge, deception, a ghost of the past, the death of several central characters and incest. But unlike most other plays of the Elizabethan era - including those written by William Shakespeare - the main focus is on the character himself, and not solely on the line of action. Prince Hamlet’s thoughts are central throughout the play, and his soliloquies provide the reader/listener with insight into what essentially becomes the tragic turning of events.
During the Renaissance there was a growing desire for intellectual independence, the ideal man should have the skills of a soldier, a scholar, a hunter, a musician and a poet. Hamlet studies philosophy in England, and though his passive line of action proves him a great thinker, he is at a loss of many other desired qualities. His ultimate goal seems at first only to revenge his father by killing king Claudius, but he lacks the murderous desire to take another human being’s life. For this he scolds himself, saying: “For I am pigeon-livered, and lack gall”. This metaphor was typical of the Elizabethan era; it was during this time that the pigeon became a symbol of peace, a creature incapable of feeling resentment and seeking revenge. In addition, the liver was said to be the place where a man stores his courage and determination. Hence, by calling himself pigeon-livered, Hamlet defines what has come to be known as the great flaw in his character: the inability to act.
Hamlet is encouraged to take the life of his uncle on several occasions. Firstly by the Ghost of his late father, prompting him to avenge his “most unnatural murder”- thereby establishing the notion that “there is something rotten in the state of Denmark”- and that it is Hamlets duty to solve the problem. This only adds to the grieving prince’s burden, he feels only too keenly the...
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