Hamlet critical study essayGet Your
Starting at Just $13.90 a page
In the context of your critical study, to what extent does your response to the closing scenes of Hamlet inform your judgement of this play as a whole? In your response, make detailed reference to Hamlet. Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Hamlet, (1601), redefined the genre by exploring universal and timeless themes such as honour, deception and love in the context of the political and social change which was occurring during England in the 17th century. Shakespeare uses the revenge tragedy to create conflict between characters that is dramatically involving for the audience and allows for multiple nterpretations of the significance of Hamlet avenging his father, his apparent madness and the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude. The final scenes do not ostensibly clarify these concerns however it is the cryptic nature of Hamlet which makes it such a timeless captivating play. In the first act, Hamlets encounter with the ghost establishes the struggle between avenging the honour of his murdered father and his own integrity. Hamlet is bound by his promise to “sweep to (his fathers) revenge” but for the majority of the play he is unable to carry out his duty, as “conscience does make owards of us all” The alliteration of this line emphasises Hamlets inaction, and this is juxtaposed with the immediate reaction of Laertes reaction to his own fathers death. He states that he would be willing to “cut (hamlets) throat i’ th’ church” for killing Polonius, a biblical allusion that conveys the extent of his rage. As he dies however, Laertes offers to “exchange forgiveness” with Hamlet and absolves him of Polonius death. Hamlet does eventually kill Claudius regaining his honour but he himself is also killed along with Gertrude. His request to
Horatio to “report me and my cause a right to the unsatisfied” suggests the unsettled political and social nature of the play, even in its final moments. Fortinbras’ arrival with the ambassadors, symbolically restoring order to Denmark, does little to resolve the question of Honour as “the sight is dismal and (their) affairs from England come too late” is contrasted by “bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage” which suggests that indeed Hamlet was an honourable man. Deception is demonstrated in the question of the legitimacy of Hamlets madness which is never conclusively proved.
His “antic disposition” in Act 1 forms the basis for the motif of pretence that recurs throughout the play. Polonius asks Ophelia if Hamlet is “mad for thy love? ” and his imitation of insanity is often so plausible that when the audience is presented with a plausible reason for his madness such as losing Ophelia that the distinction between appearance and reality become less definite. Deception is also evident in Hamlets self-reflexive nature, constantly drawing attention to its status as a play and the limitations of the form through the metatheatrical staging of “the mousetrap” in order to omment on the fallibility of human perception. Deception could be blamed for the denouement of the play, as Claudius, Laertes and Hamlet are punished, emphasised through the exclamations “villainy!…. Treachary! ” and Laertes repetition of “the king, the king’s to blame”. However the characterisation of Hamlet as an emotionally sensitive and delicate man with a “noble mind” uses pathos to subvert the audience’s traditional expectations of a traditional revenge hero. Thus his death is the final scenes do not bring the concern of deception to sufficient conclusion; rather it conveys a sense of injustice. This sense of ambiguity inherent throughout the play coupled with the exploration of human nature and its flaws serves to create an intriguing and timeless piece. The ambiguity of Hamlets relationship with Gertrude is maintained from the beginning of the play to the end as he vacillate s between affection and aggression for her. He is disgusted by her “incestuous” marriage of “most wicked speed” so soon after his father’s death when at the funeral she was “like Niobe, all tears”, a simile that alludes to Greek mythology.
Hamlets feelings for Gertrude are often interpreted differently in different productions however most commonly portrayed as an oedipal complex or jealousy of the throne. He does genuinely seem to love her as he resolves to metaphorically “speak daggers to her, but use none”. His final words in the closing scene as she dies “wretched queen, adieu” are a poignant conclusion to their relationship and expresses his grief. While it appears they are reconciled in death, the audience is left wondering whether Gertrude was a knowing participant in Claudius plan or an innocent victim.
Do you like
this material?Get help to write a similar one
Her death adds to the confusion in the final scenes of the play and leaves Hamlets accusations of her “o’hasty marriage” unresolved. Hamlet is essentially an exploration of human nature and its flaws through a variety of characters, plot devices, theatrical and literary techniques that combine to form a coherent whole, however inconclusive it may be. The final scenes do little to inform a judgment on the play as a whole due to contrasting and ambiguous intricacies. This is done purposely and skilfully by Shakespeare to leave an individual with the task of interpreting the play for themselves.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Hamlet critical study essay
We have so large base of authors that we can prepare a unique summary of any book. Don't believe? Check it!
How fast would you like to get it?