Shakespeare 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 in
printed form in 1603. The original title of “Hamlet” is “The Tragedy of Hamlet,
Prince of Denmark”.
to the literature researchers, “Hamlet” story is presumably taken from several
earlier literary works, such as “Vita Amlethi” written by the medieval Danish
chronicler Saxo Grammaticus and “Histories Tragiques” written by the French
writer François de Belleforest.
story, which Shakespeare put to use in writing “Hamlet”, is about the Danish
prince, who plans a revenge on his uncle(the current king), who killed the
father of the prince(the previous king). In contrast to the works of
Belleforest and Grammaticus, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” obviously has some
different 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 the
motives of the characters.
more difference is the time of the action. The duration of the action in
Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” was merely several months. In contrast, the action of
the two previously mentioned works lasted several years. It can be seen that
Shakespeare included in “Hamlet” also: the secret about the murder of the
previous king; the characters such as the Ghost of Hamlet’s father; the
performance of the play within the play; and finally, the tragic death of
Hamlet after the revenge on his uncle.
literary genre of “Hamlet” is the tragedy. According to this, I can clearly
present the main tragic aspects shown in the story. First of all, the vicious
circle of history. The starting point of “Hamlet” is the death of King Hamlet
and the coronation of his brother, Claudius. The ending point is the death of
Claudius. Hamlet killed him and therefore he entered the same, tragic stages of
history, renewing the circular cycle of the same history. The second tragic
aspect in “Hamlet” is that the main character is forced to take the fight with
Claudius by fate. The fight is not Hamlet’s element, but the destiny must come
true. Therefore, Hamlet was brought to the inevitable tragic solution of the
action – the uncle’s murder. And the drama ends with the death of both men, and
I would like
to distinguish here also two the most fundamental themes and problems of the
Renaissance in “Hamlet”, which are two of my favorite ones. The first aspect is
that Hamlet has lots of references to Greek and Roman stories and legends. For
example, Hamlet includes in his monologue such characters as Hyperion, Niobe,
and Hercules. In the Act I, Scene 2(the soliloquy of Hamlet), he describes his
father as “So excellent a king, that was to this/ Hyperion to a
satyr”(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’s
brother, but no more like my father / Than I to Hercules.” (356/357) And that
is an example of classical antiquity. The second aspect is the philosophy. We
can find here such philosophical trends as existentialism and humanism. The example of existentialism in “Hamlet” is
that the main character was wondering about the existence of human. It is
related to the famous monologue of Hamlet in Act III, Scene 1 “To be, or not to
be- that is the question: . . .”(1749). It is worth mentioning that this
soliloquy is rather a religious aspect than philosophical because Hamlet here
strictly believes in heaven and hell. The example of humanism is the best seen
in the another Hamlet’s famous words in Act II, Scene 2 “What a piece of work
is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how
express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a
god—the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!”( 1397/1401). Humanism
focused 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 the
The drama of William Shakespeare raises many
important problems such as the revenge, the self-control or even love.
problem in a drama is the revenge. It can be seen in more than one thread. For
example, the main character Hamlet had to kill Claudius, the murderer of his
father, and therefore he had to bring back the family honor. Another example is
the young Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, who wished to bring back the family
honor after the territorial conquests of Denmark. He wanted to do it because
his 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 his
sister of life. So accordingly to all these aspects, we can confirm that the
lust of revenge takes the form of a vicious circle.
problem is the self-control of the characters. Hamlet did not know how to deal
with his fate(the murder of his uncle).
He believed that he can act with self-control. His actions were
reasonable, thoughtful. But, when he finally decided to do something, he did it
violently and without any thoughts. The other characters did not consider lots
of aspects. Therefore, their actions were determined and effective, but they
also lead to the tragic consequences. The best example is the revenge of
Laertes – he was manipulated by the Claudius, and as a result, he was killed by
his own poisoned blade.
problem 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 Prince
and Ophelia was the normal girl. Their relationship was not allowed to evolve
into something more serious as the marriage. Additionally, Hamlet rejected
Ophelia’s feelings because of the aversion to a woman(it appeared because of
his mother alleged conspiracy with Claudius). Furthermore, Hamlet killed Ophelia’s
father. Then, she fell into madness and committed a suicide. Indeed, Hamlet
then realized what he had lost, but it was too late.
was quite easy to read in Polish, but in English it was difficult. The language
of “Hamlet” is the typical language of the royal court, so is almost entirely
intricate and lofty. Consequently, I was looking for the translation of the
words and the entire sense of these words. It was quite time-consuming. But for
me, it paid off because this drama is one of my favorites.
that “Hamlet” includes some universal problem which is the recurrence of the
history. There is some proverb in Polish – historia ko?em si? toczy – which I
consider to be very accurate on the basis of this work. It means that, as I
previously said, the history repeats itself, as a wheel. And no one can stop
it. As we can see in Hamlet, and as I mention above, the story was started with
the death and ended with the death. It is called blind fate. But in the
reality, 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 the
history of the United States and other countries.
character in this drama for me is, of course, the main character, Hamlet. He
was 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 highly
significant, 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; He
took into account all the aspects of life, such as religious and political as
well as moral. And in my opinion, it is truly important; some of us should
sometimes act like a Hamlet. And the world will be better. But, it is worth
mentioning that Hamlet is an ambiguous character, arousing various feelings.
finally, I would say that there must be something special for each of us in
this drama, because it is still known, even after more than four hundred years.