WilliamShakespeare wrote his greatest tragedies between 1601-1606, and it is said that”Hamlet” was the first of them. As I find out, “Hamlet” was published inprinted form in 1603. The original title of “Hamlet” is “The Tragedy of Hamlet,Prince of Denmark”.Accordingto the literature researchers, “Hamlet” story is presumably taken from severalearlier literary works, such as “Vita Amlethi” written by the medieval Danishchronicler Saxo Grammaticus and “Histories Tragiques” written by the Frenchwriter François de Belleforest. The mainstory, which Shakespeare put to use in writing “Hamlet”, is about the Danishprince, who plans a revenge on his uncle(the current king), who killed thefather of the prince(the previous king).
In contrast to the works ofBelleforest and Grammaticus, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” obviously has somedifferent elements. First of all, the lack of an omniscient narrator. Indeed,it allows all the characters to commonly reveal their feelings and attitudes.
Thanks to this the readers could make guess about the intentions and themotives of the characters. The onemore difference is the time of the action. The duration of the action inShakespeare’s “Hamlet” was merely several months.
In contrast, the action ofthe two previously mentioned works lasted several years. It can be seen thatShakespeare included in “Hamlet” also: the secret about the murder of theprevious king; the characters such as the Ghost of Hamlet’s father; theperformance of the play within the play; and finally, the tragic death ofHamlet after the revenge on his uncle.Theliterary genre of “Hamlet” is the tragedy. According to this, I can clearlypresent the main tragic aspects shown in the story. First of all, the viciouscircle of history. The starting point of “Hamlet” is the death of King Hamletand the coronation of his brother, Claudius. The ending point is the death ofClaudius. Hamlet killed him and therefore he entered the same, tragic stages ofhistory, renewing the circular cycle of the same history.
The second tragicaspect in “Hamlet” is that the main character is forced to take the fight withClaudius by fate. The fight is not Hamlet’s element, but the destiny must cometrue. Therefore, Hamlet was brought to the inevitable tragic solution of theaction – the uncle’s murder. And the drama ends with the death of both men, andother characters.I would liketo distinguish here also two the most fundamental themes and problems of theRenaissance in “Hamlet”, which are two of my favorite ones.
The first aspect isthat Hamlet has lots of references to Greek and Roman stories and legends. Forexample, Hamlet includes in his monologue such characters as Hyperion, Niobe,and Hercules. In the Act I, Scene 2(the soliloquy of Hamlet), he describes hisfather as “So excellent a king, that was to this/ Hyperion to asatyr”(Shakespear, 343/344); after that he compares his mother to Niobe, who “.. . followed my poor father’s body/ Like Niobe, all tears . .
.”(352/353);furthermore, he compares his uncle and father to him and Hercules, “My father’sbrother, but no more like my father / Than I to Hercules.” (356/357) And thatis an example of classical antiquity. The second aspect is the philosophy. Wecan find here such philosophical trends as existentialism and humanism.
The example of existentialism in “Hamlet” isthat the main character was wondering about the existence of human. It isrelated to the famous monologue of Hamlet in Act III, Scene 1 “To be, or not tobe- that is the question: . .
.”(1749). It is worth mentioning that thissoliloquy is rather a religious aspect than philosophical because Hamlet herestrictly believes in heaven and hell. The example of humanism is the best seenin the another Hamlet’s famous words in Act II, Scene 2 “What a piece of workis a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving howexpress and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like agod—the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!”( 1397/1401). Humanismfocused on the essence of man, in all its aspects. Therefore, in this speech,we can see an evident approval of humanist ideas about the abilities of thehuman mind. The drama of William Shakespeare raises manyimportant problems such as the revenge, the self-control or even love.
The firstproblem in a drama is the revenge. It can be seen in more than one thread. Forexample, the main character Hamlet had to kill Claudius, the murderer of hisfather, and therefore he had to bring back the family honor. Another example isthe young Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, who wished to bring back the familyhonor after the territorial conquests of Denmark. He wanted to do it becausehis father was killed by Hamlet’s father. And the last example is Laertes, Polonius’s son, and Ophelia’s brother.
He wanted to kill Hamlet because of the depriving his father and indirectly hissister of life. So accordingly to all these aspects, we can confirm that thelust of revenge takes the form of a vicious circle.The secondproblem is the self-control of the characters. Hamlet did not know how to dealwith his fate(the murder of his uncle).
He believed that he can act with self-control. His actions werereasonable, thoughtful. But, when he finally decided to do something, he did itviolently and without any thoughts.
The other characters did not consider lotsof aspects. Therefore, their actions were determined and effective, but theyalso lead to the tragic consequences. The best example is the revenge ofLaertes – he was manipulated by the Claudius, and as a result, he was killed byhis own poisoned blade.The lastproblem which I want to consider is the love.
As we know, the love between Hamlet and Ophelia was very romantic. But the relationship had to end only on this.There was a huge difference between their social status. Hamlet was the Princeand Ophelia was the normal girl. Their relationship was not allowed to evolveinto something more serious as the marriage.
Additionally, Hamlet rejectedOphelia’s feelings because of the aversion to a woman(it appeared because ofhis mother alleged conspiracy with Claudius). Furthermore, Hamlet killed Ophelia’sfather. Then, she fell into madness and committed a suicide. Indeed, Hamletthen realized what he had lost, but it was too late.The workwas quite easy to read in Polish, but in English it was difficult.
The languageof “Hamlet” is the typical language of the royal court, so is almost entirelyintricate and lofty. Consequently, I was looking for the translation of thewords and the entire sense of these words. It was quite time-consuming. But forme, it paid off because this drama is one of my favorites.
I thinkthat “Hamlet” includes some universal problem which is the recurrence of thehistory. There is some proverb in Polish – historia ko?em si? toczy – which Iconsider to be very accurate on the basis of this work. It means that, as Ipreviously said, the history repeats itself, as a wheel. And no one can stopit. As we can see in Hamlet, and as I mention above, the story was started withthe death and ended with the death. It is called blind fate.
But in thereality, it is obvious that some aspects of life are beyond our capabilities.It is some kind of a negative look into the world, but it can be seen in thehistory of the United States and other countries.The bestcharacter in this drama for me is, of course, the main character, Hamlet. Hewas a man endowed with a unique sensibility. He was enchanted with art,especially theatre; I can say that he had the artist soul. For me, it is highlysignificant, because these days there is a lack of this kind of man.Additionally, he always had an open mind, he did not do anything rashly; Hetook into account all the aspects of life, such as religious and political aswell as moral.
And in my opinion, it is truly important; some of us shouldsometimes act like a Hamlet. And the world will be better. But, it is worthmentioning that Hamlet is an ambiguous character, arousing various feelings.
Andfinally, I would say that there must be something special for each of us inthis drama, because it is still known, even after more than four hundred years.