Saturday, July 20, 2019
William Shakespeare's Hamlet presents the generic elements found in Renaissance revenge tragedies ("Revenge Tragedy"). However, although Hamlet is a revenge tragedy by definition, Shakespeare complicates the basic revenge plot by creating three revenge plots out of one. By adding significant innovations, Shakespeare creates "three concentric rings of revenge" (Frye 90), depicting an indecisive protagonist who is an intellectual rather than a physical hero, an ambiguous ghost, and several problematic aspects of the play, such as the reason for Hamlet's delay, the confusion of time, and the truth behind Hamlet's apparent madness. In a typical revenge tragedy, a hero is called upon by the ghost of a family member to avenge his death ("Revenge Tragedy"). Hamlet is the main protagonist and hero called upon by his father's ghost to "revenge his foul and most unnatural murder" (1.5.31). When Hamlet first hears that his father was murdered, he exclaims, "Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift...may sweep to my revenge" (1.5.35-37). He is hungry to avenge his father; however, Hamlet does nothing and at the end of Act II he scolds himself that "this player...could force his soul so to his own conceit...all for nothing...yet, [he]...can say nothing for a king upon whose property and most dear life a damned defeat was made" (2.2.578-598). Hamlet is upset that he hasn't yet acted to avenge his father, but some mere actor can build up so much emotion for nothing. Shakespeare complicates the plot because revenge tragedies are supposed to have a courageous and aggressive protagonist who swiftly carries out his de ed of revenge; instead, Shakespeare modifies the hero and portrays Hamlet as an indecisive and contemplative man. Additional... ...e to properly fill his role as being both the avenger and the murderer, and so resorts to feigning madness to escape the reality of his life. Through the use of soliloquies, modern readers are able to see the internal struggles of Hamlet's character. This allows them to sympathize with him because we can better understand how the loss of not only his entire family to murder, but also his best friends to betrayal affected Hamlet's ability to act. Furthermore, his father's spirit giving Hamlet the burden of vengeance did no justice; instead, it resulted in more emotional disturbance and problems. Overall, at the end of the play, modern readers see Hamlet as a sympathetic character because throughout the play we can observe his character and emotional development as he progresses from a melancholic and contemplative coward to an impulsive protagonist accepting death.