Hamlet Critical Review
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Hamlet Critical Review
Hamlet is portrayed as a man seeking justification for each step that he takes which illustrates his cautious nature. While committed to avenging his father’s death, he holds back in a bid to gain proof until when he is certain. The level of uncertainty displayed through Hamlet helps to indicate the impossibility that exists when one is pursuing the entirety of truth. This can be seen in the initial encounter between Hamlet and the ghost. While the existence of the ghost as an entity lacks certainty with Hamlet, he is further less certain of the reliability of the information it shares with him. The consequences of acting or choosing otherwise ultimately become a burden of uncertainty that Hamlet has to carry until his death. This illustrates the need for striking a balance between taking a risk and anticipating consequences with each opportunity. The pursuit for certainty is informed by the need to assume the least amount of risk which influences the decisions taken by each one.
The appearance of the ghost results in a great status of uncertainty for Hamlet. The ghost appears three different times throughout the play with each instance adding to the mystery or leaving individuals in uncertainty. The ghost first appears to Horatio where he states that the ghost appears to be King Hamlet given the armor it is wearing. Moreover, Horatio states that the ghost frowns in the same manner that King Hamlet frowned during the battle against Norway and the Poles. The ghost at this point does not speak which creates a lot of uncertainty. Moreover, Horatio is the only one able to see the ghost in spite of being in the company of Marcellus and Bernardo. This creates uncertainty in that the ghost does not speak and does not reveal itself to everyone. Therefore, the credibility of what it represents depends on the interpretation of Horatio.
The second appearance of the ghost leads to the revelation of how King Hamlet met his death. The ghost reveals that he is King Hamlet and that Prince Hamlet has to avenge his death against Claudius. King Hamlet was poisoned by Claudius which allowed him to ascend to the throne. The ghost further reveals that Queen Gertrude was involved in the poisoning which further throws Prince Hamlet into confusion and disbelief. Prince Hamlet at this point is uncertain as to whether the ghost is real or not. This brings into question of whether he should believe the message that it delivers and avenge his father’s death. He is further thrown into uncertainty when the ghost postulates that the queen Gertrude, had a hand in the king’s death. The possibility that the queen had played a part in the murder haunts Prince Hamlet given that the conditions are that he has to avenge the death of his father.
The third appearance of the ghost illustrates several changes in the level of interactions between the ghost and Prince Hamlet. The ghost takes this opportunity to remind Hamlet that he has to avenge the death of the king. During this period, only Hamlet can see the ghost while Gertrude who is also present cannot see it. This creates the effect that Prince Hamlet can be presumed as insane as no one else has the conception that the ghost is present. This is a departure from the previous appearances of the ghost who was visible to other people within the vicinity. Hamlet is yet to make up his mind as to whether he should go ahead and carry out revenge on behalf of his father. The role of the ghost during the third appearance to remove any doubt on Hamlet and encourage him towards revenge.
The ghost can be perceived as the real hero of the story since all its wishes are achieved. On the other hand, Hamlet seems to be an impractical character to deal with. The reader is brought to the light of his adamant and stubborn character when Shakespeare writes that he would do nothing and there was no doing anything to him (Shakespeare, 98). This is conspicuously the most accurate description of his character. Therefore, it only the ghost’s tragedy that has to work with Hamlet since as it is noticed in the first scene, it becomes impractical to get anyone else to comprehend with his situation.
It is also prudent for the reader to notice the discussions on whether race should be analyzed from the context of this literary work of Shakespeare. Some researchers have endeavored to discuss the radicalized rhetoric and the use of figurative language in the play (Cefalu, Paul 890. For instance, Hamlet identification of Claudius with a moor can render the reader to associate racial whiteness as being relatively more vulnerable. Skepticism delusion can also be used as a method of reexamining and critically analyzing Shakespeare’s dramatic work. Shakespeare dramatization brings to light to the reader how experiences, as opposed to ideas, portray the traits of the various characters. It is worthwhile to mention that, the plot is unveiled to the readers as fragments of events and not in a linear and definite structure that is easily predictable. Shakespeare’s work uniquely integrates the dramatic role that foils play in the play. It is clear to the reader that Hamlet is an individual with quite a difficult personality (Shakespeare, 215). Despite his challenged personality, Hamlet is relatively more amicable and considerate compared to Laertes who has no intimate affection even to his own father (Shakespeare, 223). Some researchers have theorized that Laertes is used by Shakespeare to inspire empathy of the reader to Hamlet. This is accurately achieved by the author via the “identifiable victim effect” which makes the audience to associate with the tragedies that surround Hamlet.
Performances of stories about Julius Ceasar were not permitted since they promoted the theme of dictatorship. However, performances of Shakespeare’s Hamlet are encouraged since they promoted the theme of “crime does not pay” (Shakespeare, 177) and that law and order should be safeguarded in the society. Therefore, Hamlet has been considered one of Shakespeare’s flagship work by some researchers. The final section, that is referred to as “Hamlet after theory” significantly contributes to the thematic structure of the play. Shakespeare adopts symbolism to illustrate how Gertrude uses the portrait of assert control and power, the primary objects in the play is the picture of Claudius and King Hamlet that Hamlet gives to his mother. Although Hamlet does not bring the picture to Gertrude’s place the portrait hangs on her closet. The symbolism. that is depicted by the hanging of the picture is the reflection of her proactive attempts to commemorate and honor one husband and his commitment to celebrating his life through obedience to one another (Shakespeare, 168). In this case, symbolism is used to illustrate to the audience the character traits of Gertrude. It is worthwhile to mention that the presence of symbolism in this part of the play depends on the interpretation of the symbol. The audience can create its own reality. Hence, whatever is real for another person might be imaginary for another. People create their own realities, therefore, there is a need for positive criticism and standpoints.
Although not predominately illustrated to the reader, the theme of feminism is noticeable in the play. Various researchers have argued that there are loopholes when dramatizing the play since there seems to be a disagreement on whether Hamlet was a man or a woman. Hamlet is sensitive to feminity as the reader might notice but this scenario is complicated by the usual romantic association of speculative intelligence with masculinity. However, Hamlet is portrayed as. a witty, vigorous and decisive (Shakespeare, 152). It is ironically that Hamlet is not the character that makes the most achievements considering his character traits. It is satirical to imagine that the different factions of interpretation based their critic on who the character of the most achievements was. It is erroneous to peg character achievements based on strict interpretations. The difference in interpretation is to be appreciated since the original play was a masterpiece.
The open-ended nature of the play has made it be reproduced by many more authors. The increase in the reproduction of the play has contributed to the differentiated interpretations that it has been subjected to. The flexibility of the plot, character, and scene of the play enhances reproduction. Therefore, each faction has its interpretation of aspects in the play. Positive criticism seeks to provide the best buffer points that separate the different factions. For instance, postmodern vocabulary has argued a case of characters not having a stable gender identity. Some authors have advocated for ‘unstable identity’ concept as a way of enabling flexibility in writing. The play has attracted intense debate on fundamental ethics in various societies.
The book is filled with uncertainties that make one keep guessing what will happen next. For example, the appearances of the ghost appearing and then reappearing to prince Hamlet alone creates a sense of uncertainty since the prince is not able to make up his mind on the action he should take concerning the information and signs that the ghost tries to give him. The play is oddly based on the occurrences of fragmented events instead of linear design of thoughts, this sometimes keeps one guessing who the real hero is. Nevertheless, it is an intriguing book full of symbolism and open-endedness, hence making it adaptable in different situations and interpretations.
Cefalu, Paul. “Hamlet: New Critical Essays (Review)”. Shakespeare Quarterly, vol 55, no. 1,
2004, pp. 88-91. Oxford University Press (OUP), doi:10.1353/shq.2004.0040. Accessed 19 July 2019.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Floating Press, 2008.