«Hamlet», analysis of the tragedy by William Shakespeare

Written in 1600-1601, Hamlet, like most of Shakespeare’s plays, in the plot is a literary treatment of a borrowed story that occurred in pagan Denmark (before 827 years) and first written on paper around 1200 by the Danish chronicler Saxon Grammar. 

The prototype of Hamlet was served by Prince Amlet – the son of the ruler of Jutland, Gorvendil, and the daughter of the Danish king Rerik – Geruta. At the time of the murder of his father by his brother Fengon, who later became Geruta’s husband, the Yutland hero was at a young age, but, having matured, was forced to hide his mind and cunning under the mask of madness. The first attempt by Fengon to bring Amlet to clear water was a girl who had been sent to him (in love with the prince and warned him about betrayal). For the second time, the Yutland ruler tried to unmask the prince by setting up a frank conversation with his mother. The conversation ended with the murder of an adviser to the king hiding under a blanket and the repentance of Gerut.

In the literary treatment of the historical story, Shakespeare periodically moves away from the original source: Gerutha and Fengon’s relations begin from the moment of the wedding (in the play they partially serve to kill the old Hamlet), Amlet sent to England changes the order of his uncle to murder the court courtiers and betrothal himself to the daughter of the English king (in the play Hamlet captured by pirates to England does not even reach). The final of the history of the Yutland prince is truly dramatic: he returns to the country at his own three-day party, solders the royal couple and courtiers during the feast, then covers them with a carpet, beats the latter to the floor and sets the palace on fire. The Shakespearean denouement is less predatory in nature: every death in it is natural and is associated with the resolution of a moral or ethical or philosophical problem.

The murder of King Jutland by Fengon was clearly committed, the murder of the old Hamlet occurs in secret. The appearance of a ghost imposing on his son the task of revenge, the presence of obstacles to make revenge, a love motive, an introduction to the plot of “scenes in the scene” (playing the tragedies of the play “The Murder of Gonzago” in the capital), the machinations of the main villain aimed at the “avenger” and turning against him , are the classic features of the genre of “tragedy of bloody revenge”, the creator of which is Shakespeare’s predecessor Thomas Kid.

The character of Hamlet is an image of a lively, sensitive person who is more inclined to think than to thoughtless action. Throughout the play, he tries to gather his mental strength to make a fair retribution, but every time something stops him: at the beginning there is a lack of faith in the words of the ghost (Hamlet, like any Christian, realizes that the Devil can push him to revenge) then unwillingness to send the father’s killer to Heaven. In the last act, the Christian motive is again manifested: Hamlet pities his father, who was killed in a dream and did not get the opportunity to repent, which means he went to hell after death, and wants the same fate for his murderer. Standing at prayer, Claudius will not go to hell, which means he must live still – until the minute when he can be killed at the moment of the highest, sinful evil deed.

Hamlet waits, Hamlet prepares her revenge by breaking mother’s heart with cruel but truthful words about her betrayal of not only memory, but also the life of the king, the accidental murder of the royal adviser – the cunning trickster Polonius, sending “friends” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to death . Laertes, in whose fate the Danish prince sees “a reflection of his fate”, does not expect anything: he is ready to put to death the father’s murderer at the very moment when he sees him, even if he is in the chapel. Understanding that the true culprit of the tragedy is Claudius, comes to his son Polonius only on his deathbed.

Female characters of tragedy are imbued with the idea of weakness, but for each of the characters she has her own: while Gertrude easily goes to betray her love, Ophelia can not accept the loss of love, goes mad and ends her life by suicide. Hamlet’s refusal of Ophelia is due to the very reason Laertes indicates to the girl at the very beginning of the play: the powers that be are not powerful in their desires. As soon as the Danish prince realizes that his main task is revenge, he throws out all other feelings from his life. Hamlet’s love force opens in the final when the prince, who learned of Ophelia’s death, rushes after Laert in the grave and tells everyone present that he loved her more than “forty thousand brothers”.

The character of Hamlet’s faithful friend, Horatio, is contrasted in the play by the “friends” of childhood, led by the king, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. With the first Danish prince it is good – he can talk heart-to-heart with him, ask for any, even the most insane service (for example, follow Claudius’ mimic during the performance), trust his life (by calling to himself with a letter and telling about Claudius’s murder ); the second Hamlet perceives as the guards attached to him, unworthy not only of trust, but even of ordinary serious conversation. Irritated by Rosencranz and Guildenstern’s attempts to understand the movements of his soul, Hamlet in the hearts compares himself with the “useless thing” – a tool that the courtiers can torment but cannot play on.

The symbolism of the tragedy is simple and clear. If a person is an instrument, then death is a skull, whose belonging can be established only through human memory. The bones of the royal jester Yorick are no different from the remains of the great commander Alexander the Great. Ashes are the outcome of physical life, and what is its spiritual continuation is unknown to Hamlet. Hence his famous question “to be or not to be?”. Resist the fate or fight it? Die to get rid of “natural agony”? And will it work out? What are the “dreams” a person will dream over the threshold of the grave? Is death worth death and life worth living? It is ignorance that gives people the power to live: to put up with gross violence and untruth, contempt and rejected love – all the misfortunes that end when a person dies. But do they end? The lack of an exact answer to the question is the only possible answer that gives human life meaning. Until it is received, while a person doubts, ponders, suffers, tries to figure out what surrounds him – he lives.

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