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An Analytical Essay of William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Originally titled The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, this tragedy has been reproduced more times than any other play written by William Shakespeare (en.wikipedia.org 1 of 9). Prince Hamlet also has the lengthiest appearance of any character in all of Shakespeare's plays (en.wikpedia.org 6 of 9). In the play, Prince Hamlet is caught between balancing his need to avenge his father's death, dealing with the disgust he felt for Gertrude and Claudius' love affair, and maintaining the relationship he has with Ophelia without exposing his plans to kill his uncle Claudius for the murder of King Hamlet.
During the first act, Prince Hamlet meets the ghost of his father, King Hamlet. His father's ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius poured poison in his ear while he slept. The spirit also explains that he wishes for Hamlet to avenge his death, but not to punish Queen Gertrude for marrying Claudius. He tells Hamlet that she will have to answer to her conscience, and eventually God for her incestuous actions (absoluteshakespeare.com 1 of 4). It was believed during these times that when a person died, especially in such a tragic fashion, that their spirit lingered about while suffering in Purgatory. This could cause a normally virtuous person's spirit to become filled with malevolence and begin to meddle in living men's affairs (en.wikipedia.org 4 of 9). This belief caused Prince Hamlet to want to investigate his father's spirit's claims to ensure that they were indeed true. In order to do this, Prince Hamlet feigns madness in order to remain hidden from members of the court's suspicions while he plots his revenge on King Claudius (www.sparknotes.com 1 of 3). He also takes advantage of a group of actors who come to Elsinore Castle to perform by rewriting a play to recreate the scene of his father's murder. He does this with the hope of flushing a confession out of Claudius' guilty conscience. When Claudius sees the play, he stands up and leaves the room (en.wikipedia.org 5 of 9). After many more events, Claudius' guilt becomes more obvious. Claudius then begins to change his focus towards killing Hamlet, as he is beginning to become aware of the Prince's plans to kill him. Claudius then arranges a fencing match between Hamlet and Polonius' son Laertes and has Laertes poison the blade of one of his swords to be used in the match (Hamlet). Hamlet scores the first hit during the match, and Claudius offers Hamlet a congratulatory drink from a goblet of wine that Claudius had previously poisoned without anyone's knowledge. Hamlet declines to drink, but his mother Gertrude accepted the poisoned wine for him. Hamlet is then wounded by Laertes' poison sword and continues the match unaware of his impending death. During the match, Gertrude dies after telling Hamlet that she had been poisoned by Claudius' wine. Hamlet then stabs Claudius through with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink down the rest of the poisoned wine. Claudius dies, and Hamlet dies shortly after finally avenging King Hamlet (www.sparknotes.com 2 of 3).
During Hamlet's first soliloquy we learn that he does not approve of King Claudius taking Queen Gertrude as his wife so quickly after King Hamlet's death (absoluteshakespeare.com 1 of 4). Not only did Hamlet disapprove of Claudius' and Gertrude's marriage, but at that time, the Church of England also considered a widow's marriage to her deceased husband's brother to be an incestuous affair (en.wikipedia.org 4 of 9). Queen Gertrude is somewhat saved from Hamlet's lust for vengeance, as his father's ghost told Hamlet to spare her from persecution for her actions. However, this does not stop Hamlet from verbally berating her from time to time throughout the play. Hamlet does not understand his mother's need for protection and comfort, and this hurts him. He feels that her marriage to Claudius so quickly after King Hamlet's death dishonors his father's memory (Hamlet).
Many things helped prevent Ophelia and Hamlet from being able to express their love for each other openly. In Act I, Ophelia's brother Laertes warns Ophelia not to fall in love with Hamlet, as he states she would only be hurt by the relationship (absoluteshakespeare.com 1 of 4). Shortly after this, Ophelia's father Polonius tells her not to show Hamlet any affection, as he is only using her for his own benefit (absoluteshakespeare.com 1 of 4). During the second act, Polonius is told by Ophelia that Hamlet came to her with his clothes ragged, and then he anxiously studied her face and quickly left. Polonius then assumes Hamlet is behaving this way because he is mad with love for Ophelia, and he cannot bear that she is no longer acknowledging Hamlet's love (absoluteshakespeare.com 2 of 4). In Act III, King Claudius and Polonius listen in on a private conversation between Prince Hamlet and Ophelia while hiding out of sight. During the conversation, Hamlet grows suspicious of Ophelia's intentions. He seems to have no love for Ophelia whatsoever when he orders her away to a nunnery and denounces marriage in general (en.wikipedia.org 5 of 9). Prince Hamlet later tries to tell Ophelia that he is only pretending to be mad during the performance being put on by the visiting actors. He hopes that she will be able to wait for him until after he avenges his father's murder. This however, never happens as Ophelia becomes insane after her father is killed at the hands of Hamlet, and somehow drowns herself shortly thereafter (Hamlet).
Throughout this play, Hamlet fully devotes himself to avenging his father's death while trying to hold together the pieces of his life that matter to him. He focuses on holding onto his love for Ophelia while keeping her far enough away from him to protect her from any misguided retribution that might have occurred while he plotted to assassinate King Claudius. At the same time, Hamlet was fighting an inner struggle between his own view of his mother as a frail, needy woman who cares nothing of her own image as long as she has a man to share her bed with, and the order his father gave to him to not seek vengeance upon her for what she had done. In the end, it might have been better for Hamlet had he not tried to seek revenge at all. When he did finally accomplish his goal, he had traded everything he loved for it, including his own life.
absoluteshakespeare.com "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Summary." 9 Dec. 2006.
en.wikipedia.org "Hamlet." 9 Dec. 2006.
Hamlet. Dir. Franco Zeffirell. Warner Brothers. Videocassette. 1991.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet. Prince of Denmark. Literature; An
Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts, and Henry E.
Jacobs. 3rd Compact Edition. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006. 993-1093.
www.sparknotes.com "Hamlet." 10 Dec. 2006.
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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Hamlet Analysis - 738 words
In Act 1 Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the ghost of King Hamlet can be portrayed as either, a harsh, mean, and demanding father or a caring, nice, and understanding dad. This depends on how you manipulate the lighting, actions, which includes speech, and other special effects. By manipulating the lighting on the ghost of King Hamlet, he can be presented as either a demanding and harsh father or a caring and understanding dad. To present the ghost as a demanding and harsh father you could use a bright red light shining on him. Using a red light would portray him as evil because the color red is associated with such things as fire and hell, both which have negative connotations.
For example, at the beginning of the scene a single red light can shine down on the ghost from behind casting a dark shadow onto Hamlet. When the ghost says, 'Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.'; The single light from behind could move to directly over the ghost casting a shadow onto his face to make him look even more menacing. Also, lights all over the stage would begin at a low red glow and slowly rise to a bright red engulfing the whole stage when the ghost finishes off the quote saying, 'murder';. If you manipulate the light in another way the ghost can be presented as a caring father. By using a white or a blue light would portray him as good because the colors of white and blue are connected with things such as heaven and angels, both of which have good connotations. For example, when showing the ghost, a white light could be coming at him from all angles, following wherever he goes
When the ghost of King Hamlet says, 'Taint not thy mind. aught.'; A white light could be coming from under the stage shining up onto the ghost, and also from all other angles. This would cause the ghost to shine brightly from the light bouncing off his armor. Saying this quote while having white light surround him would further portray him as caring. This is because he is telling Hamlet not to harm, or even think of harming his mother. Not only does lighting show how the ghost of King Hamlet can be portrayed in two different ways, but it can also be displayed by his actions and speech.
By manipulating the ghost's actions and speech he can be portrayed as either a demanding and harsh father or a caring and understanding dad. By manipulating his speech into a low, hoarse, and rough sounding voice and often raising his voice so much that he would be yelling, he would be presented as demanding and harsh. When the ghost says, 'Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.'; His tone of voice would slowly rise until he was yelling at the end of the quote. Also as he was saying this he would be staring straight into Hamlet's eyes and gripping him extremely hard on both shoulders, often shaking him. To portray the king as caring he could talk in a soft, agreeable, and pleasant tone of voice.
Again when the ghost says, 'Taint not thy mind. aught.'; He could use a smooth tone of voice while holding Hamlet softly on a single shoulder. Also, when the ghost must leave because of the rising sun and says, 'Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me.'; The ghost could embrace Hamlet and then hold his hand as long as he could when he is leaving. By manipulating other special effects the ghost can be portrayed as either a demanding and harsh father or a caring and understanding dad. When the ghost says, 'And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire.'; He could be lowered down beneath the stage as a fog lighted with a red glow bellows out from below. Also in the background thunder and lightning could be going on. This would portray the ghost to be mean because it would symbolize King Hamlet descending down into hell.
By changing the effects to almost the exact opposite the ghost can be portrayed as nice. When the ghost says 'Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me.'; He could be hoisted off the stage simulating that he was flying towards heaven. Also in the background the sounds of trumpets and harps could be heard further aligning him with heaven and things with good connotations.
Research paper and essay writing, free essay topics, sample works Hamlet Analysis
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11 February 2014. Author: Criticism
I have to write an essay, which has to be 4 pages long, and i dont know what to write about. What will be the easiest to write about from the following and please also include some details of the certain option you pick. ANY help is needed! i dont know anything about hamlet!heres the assignment in detail:Hamlet Literary AnalysisConsider an aspect of hamlet which you would like to explore. you may consider the following:- analysis of particular soliloquy and its relation to the overall theme of the novel.- an in-depth analysis of one particular character, his/her actions and the relation to the overall theme of the novel.- analysis of the play's use of a literary device and relation to the overall theme of novel- compare and contrast 2 characters and what their similarities and differences reveal about the overall theme of the novel.- looking at the player from a freudian perspective and analyzing character actions through this lens- analyzing how a particular theme in this play functions and develops.Similar Asks:
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Hamlet Critical Essay On Revenge
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Hamlet: Major Themes | Critical Essays | CliffsNotes
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A Critical Analysis of Shakespeare's Hamlet Dave Beaston Hamlet
Online Literary Criticism Collection
There is general agreement about the sources for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. About 400 years prior to the Elizabethan version, Saxo Grammaticus told a similar tale in his Historia Danica (c. 1200). About 15 years before Shakespeare’s version, François de Belleforest adopted the essential story in his Histoires Tragiques (1576), a popular collection of tales in French. Both of these sources survive as literary manuscripts.
However, most critics believe that another source, the so-called Ur-Hamlet. is the version most directly responsible for many of the elements which Shakespeare incorporated into his play. Although no written version of this precursor exists, and historians can only work backwards from documents which mention the Ur-Hamlet. it is believed that this play, probably written by Thomas Kyd, was acted in 1594 by the Lord Admiral’s Men and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the latter of which company Shakespeare belonged to.
While the earlier versions included similar elements to Shakespeare’s Hamlet (the hero’s love interest, fratricide, feigned madness, adultery, spies, and revenge), only Kyd’s version includes the Ghost who seeks revenge. In fact, Kyd’s famous play, The Spanish Tragedy. includes other elements which Shakespeare seems to have incorporated into Hamlet. “a procrastinating protagonist who berates himself for talking instead of acting and who dies as he achieves his revenge; … a play within a play, a heroine whose love is opposed by her family, and another woman who becomes insane and commits suicide” [Boyce, 238–39]. However, if Kyd did not author the Ur-Hamlet. both he and Shakespeare may have borrowed from this same “Ur-”.
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*Elsinore Castle. Thirteenth century Danish castle that is the site of the main action of the play. Elsinore is a real city in modern Denmark, where it is known as Helsingor in Danish. The official modern name of the castle is Kronborg. However, William Shakespeare was not interested in creating the historical Elsinore (a place he almost certainly never visited) but in creating a castle suitable for a play with themes dealing with treachery and revenge, a play in which it seems almost impossible for the revenging hero to know exactly what is true and what is not.
Significantly, all but two scenes of the play are set within the castle or on its battlements, and all the characters seem to live in the castle, at least temporarily. These include King Claudius and his wife, Hamlet’s mother, as well as the aged courtier Polonius and his daughter Ophelia. Prince Hamlet, like his counterpart, Laertes, was evidently away, living at his university town, until called home for his father’s funeral. Horatio, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, Hamlet’s school friends, seem to be long-term guests at the castle. Even the acting company that stages The Mousetrap is lodged there. The exception is the Norwegian Prince Fortinbras, who lives in his own country except when he is waging war on his neighbors.
From its opening, the play’s action involves spying, an activity well suited to the labyrinthine layout of an ancient building in which one room opens into another and passageways twist unpredictably, leading from royal audience rooms to chapels to private rooms or “closets.” In such a setting, audiences see Hamlet decide to adopt his disguise of an “antic disposition” in order to test the veracity of the ghost. In this setting Polonius asks a spy to observe his son’s behavior in Paris, Claudius and Polonius spy on Hamlet’s conversation with Ophelia, Claudius asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet, and Polonius is killed while spying on Hamlet and Gertrude. The fact that Claudius cannot find where Hamlet has hidden Polonius’s body—near the stairs to the “lobby”—suggests that the castle’s structure is as complicated as the play’s.
The task of the spy is always the same, to learn the truth, a problem central to Hamlet ’s theme wherein truth is evasive and every answer seems to lead to more questions. The ghost’s truth-telling, Claudius’s guilt, Gertrude’s complicity, Hamlet’s unstable state of mind, and his apparent delaying are all subjects for questions in the course of the play, and the answers they bring forth are as confusing as the setting in which they are asked.
Exterior locations. Hamlet is an unusually interior play. Aside from its scenes on battlements, only two scenes seem to take place outdoors. One of those takes place on the Danish coast as Hamlet watches Fortinbras’s army march to make war on Poland. There Hamlet compares Fortinbras’s energetic action to his own proclivity for delaying action. Significantly, the other of the exterior scenes is set in a graveyard. There Hamlet seems to arrive at an answer which frees him to act out his revenge. As he watches preparations for Ophelia’s funeral, he concludes that even the greatest lives end in the grave, and soon after that he tells Horatio that he recognizes his own fatal destiny and is ready to sweep into his revenge.
Battlements. Defensive structures around Elsinore’s walls that are the location of some of the play’s most gripping early action, as when the ghost of the dead king appears first to the watchmen and later to Hamlet. It is appropriate that the king, who appears in his armor, should want to walk on the structure that symbolizes his military power, the position from which he once defended Elsinore, since he is about to ask his son to undertake another sort of castle defense in avenging his death.
*Wittenberg. Location of the Germany university which Hamlet has attended. Wittenberg is closely associated with Martin Luther, whose studies there precipitated the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The university was still strongly associated with Protestantism in 1603, although Shakespeare never indicates that Hamlet is involved in any religious study. Wittenberg stands in strong contrast to Paris, where Polonius’s son Laertes has been studying and where Polonius suspects he may be overly involved in the city’s temptations to loose living.
*Denmark. General setting of the play. Shakespeare adopted the Danish setting along with the action of the play (which has its roots in thirteenth century Danish folklore) from a source almost contemporary to him; many scholars believe he used a version of the story written around 1589 by the English playwright Thomas Kyd. Shakespeare made no attempt to recreate early medieval Denmark; instead he set the action in a sort of timeless past. However, he included action and references that evoke the early modern period of 1600, when Denmark was an important naval power that competed with England and when both Paris and Wittenberg were significant educational centers. Hamlet’s references to the Danish court’s reputation for drunkenness must have amused Shakespeare’s audiences. Ironically, Shakespeare makes Claudius portray England as a state so eager to stay in the favor of powerful Denmark that its king will surely commit any political executions Claudius requests, including the execution of Hamlet.
Bowers, Fredson Thayer. Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy, 1587-1642. Reprint. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press, 1966. A full discussion of revenge tragedy and its connections to the central action of Hamlet. Bowers’ historical account of the conventions of revenge tragedy provides an illuminating context for the play.
Grene, Nicholas. Shakespeare’s Tragic Imagination. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. The chapter on Hamlet attempts to revise and question some of the Christian interpretations of the play. Also of value is Grene’s connecting Hamlet to the play that preceded it in Shakespeare’s oeuvre, Julius Caesar (c. 1599-1600).
Hunt, Marvin W. Looking for Hamlet. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. This guide to Hamlet provides an introduction to the play along with extensive literary criticism. Some issues discussed are Shakespeare’s influences, the different versions of the play that exist today, and various interpretations and criticisms. Includes black and white photos of actors playing Hamlet and a bibliography of resources for further research.
Prosser, Eleanor. “Hamlet” and Revenge. Stanford, Calif. Stanford University Press, 1967. Prosser uses an historical approach to try to answer such central questions as the Elizabethans’ attitude toward revenge, the nature of the father’s ghost, and regicide.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Edited by Harold Jenkins. London: Methuen, 1982. Considered by many to be the best edition of the play, its notes are clear and thorough, and Jenkins includes a number of longer notes that discuss such controversies as those surrounding Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” speech. Also includes an excellent discussion of the sources for the play and earlier criticism on it.
Watts, Cedric. Hamlet. Boston: Twayne, 1988. Includes a stage history and a critical history that provide some of the contexts for Hamlet. The discussion is intended to preserve the play’s mystery rather than offering another solution to the so-called Hamlet problem.
Wilson, John Dover. What Happens in Hamlet. 3d ed. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1951. Wilson attempts to resolve all of the unsolved questions in the play by a close analysis of the text. Suggests plausible answers for some of the problems but fails to resolve the most important ones.Start your free trial with eNotes to access more than 30,000 study guides. Get help with any book. Hamlet Homework Help Questions Simulation and dissimulation are two excellent themes within this complex Shakespearean tragedy. simulation: imitation or enactment, as of something anticipated or in testing; the act or process.
When he states "get thee to a nunnery" to Ophelia, he is expressing pent-up anger towards his mother, who he feels has been unfaithful and incestuous when she married his uncle. At the beginning.