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Analysis of “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Hamlet has attracted abiding interest due to its aesthetics and the exceptional complexity of the author’s masterpiece. Deep reflections on life and death invariably attract the readers’ attention and push each to their interpretations. Every generation can identify with the problems touched upon in the play. Shakespeare’s work remains popular until nowadays as it depicts human nature with all its vices and the protagonist, who is not indifferent to the fate of humanity.

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First of all, Hamlet can be interpreted as a tragedy of crises. An eponymous hero is facing the imperfections of the world, which inflict much pain on him. First, his mother appears to be disloyal to her past husband and marries his killer. Additionally, Ophelia shows all her love for Hamlet but fails to understand him and support him. In Hamlet’s eyes, she is a weak-willed puppet of her father, Claudius. Osric, an episodic character who appears in only one scene with a hat, which he takes off, then puts on to please Hamlet, also reflects the atmosphere of life reigning at Claudius’s court. His flattery is ridiculous, but Osric himself considers such behavior to be the norm and does not realize his buffoonery (Shakespeare 5.2.) Moreover, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are Hamlet’s friends, are ready for betrayal. Thus, the picture of a corrupted world, which he sees as an “unweeded garden,” is painted to the main protagonist of the story (Shakespeare 1.1. 7). Thus, the author chose Denmark as the representation of all the falseness and depravity of society.

Hamlet is an empathic character, so he is horrified by the murder committed in the royal family. Nevertheless, the hero understands that such atrocity is left unpunished due to people’s indifference (Hassan 1832). In his “to be or not to be” monologue, Hamlet mentions some other struggles of humanity: “The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office.” (Shakespeare 3.1. 16-18). Therefore, the prince decides to confront the world and take revenge. For this purpose, he could deal with Claudius and regain the throne. However, he is a thinker and humanist, concerned with the common good and feeling responsible for protecting all the oppressed (Hassan 1832). The man is aware of his mission: “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right” (Shakespeare 1.5. 7-8). Hamlet’s tragedy is that he combines the world’s perception typical of the Middle Ages, which is the idea of ancestral revenge, and elements of the humanistic consciousness caused by the new Renaissance epoch, where humans’ lives value is brought to the fore.

The play touches upon a wide range of problems, including children’s and parents’ relationships, loyalty, and betrayal. Furthermore, such philosophical issues as searching for life and the human mission, the right to murder are dominant in Shakespeare’s work. The central symbol of the tragedy is the skull that represents death. All that is left after the royal jester is ashes that are no more recognizable as Yorick. The bones remind of past physical life, but Hamlet refuses to believe that there is nothing spiritual in humans. It is where he starts to wonder, “to be or not to be?” (Shakespeare 3.1. 1). The character cannot resolve the issue, but, more importantly, he raises the question. Everything that concerns human psychology does not lose its relevance over the centuries, for people are by nature driven by the same feelings, which are love, selfishness, or anger.

Shakespeare helps commentators and interpreters of the play as the author explain why he was engaged in art and what idea he inserts into his work. He puts the following words into Hamlet’s mouth: “the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her feature, scorn her image, and the very age and body of the time” (Shakespeare 3.2. 3-4). In this scene, the protagonist is talking about the meaning of theatre in people’s lives. Thus, for Shakespeare, the theatre is genuine art, which depicts reality and plays a part in its transformation. At least, the writer believes that he can evoke the audience’s interest in the world’s problems through the stage.

To conclude, Hamlet is a tragedy that can be viewed as a psychological, social, political, and historical tragedy, as well as the personal drama of each of Shakespeare’s heroes. It seems that the playwright created the tragedy to attract attention to different aspects of human nature. One can admire Shakespeare’s ability to see some eternal and universal problems of humanity. It becomes evident that the issues relevant to the 17th-18th centuries have remained unresolved since people continuously return to this playwright with their questions. The main character’s ability to see the real face of the world makes Hamlet the tragic hero. He is closer, dearer to plain people than all the other heroes, both in strength and weakness. It is easier to identify with him mentally because, in Hamlet, readers or viewers can see themselves to some extent. If the protagonist is difficult to understand, human beings have not yet understood themselves quite well.

Works Cited

Hassan, M. H. “The Tragic Perspective in Hamlet’s Character during the Play-Scene.” International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences (IJELS), vol. 4 no. 6, 2019, pp. 1830-1835.

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Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 2019. Project Gutenberg E-book, Web.

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