Hamlet by William Shakespeare
“Hamlet” is a play that is set in the Kingdom of Denmark. Hamlet, the prince is instructed by his father’s ghost to kill Claudius because of his hand in the king’s death. Hamlet then sets out on a mission to do just that. Because of his gravity of the matter, his behavior drastically changes and this leads the members of the royal court to assume he is going crazy. In a series of freak coincidences, four innocent people lose their lives. The play climaxes when he finally gets to avenge the murder of his father by stabbing and poisoning Claudius before he himself dies from the blade’s poisoned. The play ends with the stage littered with the corpses of Hamlet, his mother Gertrude, his fencing opponent Laertes and Claudius. Fortbrinas, the Norwegian prince arrives and orders that his bod be carried away in a manner that befits a fallen soldier.
The most memorable character in this play is the protagonist, Prince Hamlet. He is the son of the recently deceased King Hamlet whose supposed apparition makes an appearance at the beginning of the play. The ghost identifies itself as the spirit of the dead king then accuses Claudius of poisoning him and then beseeches the younger Hamlet to avenge this murder most foul. As the play progresses, we see prince Hamlet sinking into deep thought again and again. The subject of his thoughts is the plot to avenge the murder. We also see Hamlet having many moral arguments in his mind about whether or not the murder he is plotting is justified or whether it will be instrumental in exacting his late father’s revenge.
“Hamlet” is a tragedy and the main theme in this play is the futility of revenge. This is well brought out by Prince Hamlet, who dedicates all his energies towards the mission that his dead father has sent him on. That is to murder Claudius. This mission Hamlet is on leaves behind it a destructive path in which several lives are lost needlessly. According to Hamlet’s plan, the only death that should take place is that of Claudius. However, in his quest to fulfill the ghost’s wishes, five other people, himself included meet their deaths.
The first person to die is Polonius. Hamlet never intended to kill him. This was more of an accidental death which took place because of a combination of Hamlet’s hatred for Claudius and Polonius’ nosiness. While Polonius hid behind Gertrude’s Tapestry, Hamlet was certain that it was the king, Claudius and hence drew his sword and jabbed it through the fabric, instantly killing Polonius.
The next person to perish is Hamlet’s suspected lover, Ophelia who also happens to be Polonius’ Daughter. Her father was the only family she had left, and they must have been closer upon realizing that Hamlet didn’t have any love for her. His death sends her into a deep grief that only comes to an end when she commits suicide by drowning herself.
The third person to meet his death as a result of Hamlet’s mission is Laertes; Ophelia’s long lost brother who had been in France for a long period of time. He comes to Denmark in a fury to avenge his father’s death at the hand of Hamlet. Claudius seizes this opportunity to kill Hamlet before Hamlet kills him. However, the plan goes awry when Laertes strikes himself with the poisoned sword. In his dying moments, he confesses to Hamlet that they had the fencing match was part of a conspiracy to eliminate him.
At the same time, Claudius’ back-up plan to murder Hamlet also fails when Gertrude takes a sip of the wine which had been spiked for Hamlet to drink in the event that he won the fencing contest. This poison kills her, making it the fourth unintended death in Hamlet’s quest to do as the ghost had told him.
The unfolding events infuriate Hamlet and he proceeds to finally kill Claudius by stabbing him and forcing the poisoned wine down his throat. Since Hamlet had also been struck by the poisoned sword earlier, he also dies, making his death the fifth unintended death that was never part of his initial mission. These deaths illustrate the futility of revenge since despite Hamlet’s efforts and success in killing his father’s supposed murderer, no gain or victory was achieved. In the process of seeking revenge, he ended up killing every possible person that might have been close to him and in the end he himself loses his life.
This play is a tragedy because the protagonist who is also the tragic hero suffers throughout the play. Another key feature of tragedies is the fact that the main character needs to have admirable qualities, all of which Hamlet exhibits. By the time a tragedy is coming to an end, the tragic hero dies and this is exactly what happens in “Hamlet” just before its denouement. Another key element of tragedies is the fact that the hero’s demise is often a matter of fate or destiny. They are often structured in such a manner that it appears that their free will led them to their untimely death. Hamlet had many opportunities to kill Claudius but only chooses to do so at the same time that Claudius has planned to kill him.
Depth of character is seen in the way the playwright has cast the different characters’ roles and persona lives. Hamlet, the main character is seen as a philosophical person who attempts to rationalize everything that crosses his mind. We see that he hesitates to kill Claudius when he was praying because he believes that such a death would have sent this man straight to heaven. Even when he contemplates suicide, we see that he takes into account many factors, including those beyond the scope of the living. Through this we see that Hamlet’s personality is really elaborated upon throughout the play. The play is also scripted in such a manner that the audience gets to see that Hamlet had a close relationship with his deceased father (Drama Appreciation, n.d.).
Gravity and pertinence is seen in this play through the protagonist’s soliloquies. On several occasions, he soberly thinks about the action she is planning to commit and in so doing, considers the religious implications of his actions as well as the fate of those who have met their deaths (Drama Appreciation, n.d.).
Because of a small number of characters as well as proper arrangement of scenes, “Hamlet” exhibits stageability since the different characters and stage managers have ample time to position themselves appropriately (Drama Appreciation, n.d.).
Despite being scripted in Old English, “Hamlet” maintains speakability. The manner in which the characters speak in prose is easily understandable to the audience and is also easy on the individual who is performing the given role. The content of the characters’ discourses also serves to elaborate on the different situations that the characters find themselves in. in one of Hamlet’s soliloquies; the audience gets to see what was going on in his mind and his motivation for killing Claudius. “…O God! A beast that wants discourse of reason”
The content of this play is credible because the issue of revenge is something that everybody encounters from time to time. This enables the audience to relate to the story better. Intrigue also makes up a key component of this play. The unpredictable turn of events keeps the audience glued throughout the play (Drama Appreciation, n.d.).
Evidently, the play “Hamlet” exhibits proper flow. The pace of the conversations as well as the turn of events enables the audience to gradually build up the story and hence understand it better (Drama Appreciation, n.d.)
Drama Appreciation Drama 1. (n.d.) Chapter 13: The playwright. Pp. 381-410 Retrieved from http://www.mpc.edu/FacultyStaff/ConstanceGamiere/Documents/Chapt13.htm
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