Denmark has a long-standing feud with neighbouring Norway, in which King Hamlet slew King Fortinbras of Norway in a battle some years ago.
Intellectual, self-reflective, alienated, and seemingly paralyzed by doubts about both himself and the circumstance in which he is called upon to act as an agent of revenge, Hamlet has come to be considered the quintessential modern hero.
For the subject of his drama, Shakespeare turned to a story already popular in English theaters; at least two earlier productions of the sad tale of the Danish prince had appeared in London playhouses. Most of these were bloody spectacles in which almost every character dies in the final act.
The body-strewn stage in act 5 of Hamlet continues this tradition, as does the central action of the drama: The central dramatic interest in the play is the character of its hero. The prince feels he must delay his revenge, however, until he is certain Claudius is guilty.
Much is made of the mother-son relationship; Hamlet spends considerable time trying to convince his mother that she has made a mistake in marrying Claudius. Only when she finally comes to accept his view that the new king is somehow guilty does Hamlet decide to act.
His decision is precipitated by several other actions as well, most notably the efforts of his supposed friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to have him killed. Many critics have observed that Hamlet is really too sensitive to effect the revenge that he intends.
He is by nature melancholic, possessing a fatalistic disposition that borders on the suicidal. His most famous soliloquy focuses on the virtue of ending his life. Viewing the world as a place where things are seldom as they seem, he spends a good portion of his time trying to sort appearance from reality.
He invents various devices to help illuminate the truth, such as his elaborate arrangement for a dumb show that will re-create the murder of his father in the presence of Claudius to try to make the king reveal his guilt.
Hamlet is not satisfied simply to take vengeance on his uncle clandestinely; he wants Claudius to admit his guilt. Early in the play, his inactivity can be attributed to his lack of assurance that Claudius is guilty. Were he to kill the new king without justification, he would be seen as no better than a murderer himself, and no good would come of his action.
Such casuistry has been reason for several critics to claim that Shakespeare is simply drawing out the drama until the final catastrophe.
By the final act, Hamlet has become totally fatalistic. In the final scene, all of the principals meet their end—and almost all by some mischance of fate. Despite the resounding encomium pronounced over the body of the slain prince, the bleak ending offers little encouragement for an audience who has witnessed this great tragedy.
Surprisingly, however, the ending seems justified, in that order has been restored to the Danish kingdom, although won at a terrible price.
Such is the lesson of most great tragedies, and Hamlet ranks with the very best examples of the genre.AP English Language AP English Literature English II – Pre-AP Literary Analysis Skills Vertical Teams.
Short Passages for Rhetorical Analysis. Five close reading strategies to support the Common Core. Classroom Strategies from the Texas Lighthouse guide.
In this lesson, you will learn who Puck is, and what his role is in Shakespeare's play, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Take a look at the character traits and analysis, and then test your knowledge. Dr. Faustus is a tragedy because the main character falls as a victim of his own circumstances, and is a victim of himself.
He is a man with all the potential and possibilities to be successful. I enjoy teaching “A Modest Proposal.” I think in many cases it’s the first time students have been introduced to satire on that level. Sometimes my students are appalled at Swift for even suggesting such a thing—and that’s the point, isn’t it?
Hamlet Homework Help Questions. Can you explain the presence of simulation and dissimulation in Hamlet? Simulation and dissimulation are two excellent themes within this complex Shakespearean tragedy.
Romeo and Juliet study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.