Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare is one the most acclaimed and widely read pieces of literature in the history of Western civilization. It is the story of a young prince named Hamlet who must battle his adversaries and his own demons in order to avenge the fratricide committed against his father, the former King of Denmark, by his own uncle, the new King of Denmark. It is a classic dramatic story filled with deceit, trickery, self-doubt, revenge, and death. As well as being one of the most well known and important pieces of literature in history, Hamlet is not surprisingly one of the most analyzed and criticized work that exists today. From Freudian psychological interpretations, to modern deconstruction theories, Hamlet is scrutinized under a wide variety of perspectives and interpretations. This is not surprising considering the incredible ability of William Shakespeare to create such intriguing stories and characters that truly touch and mystify the reader's soul.
[...] In this sense, “Polonius represents the archetypal figures of ‘wise old man, fool and scapegoat'” (Oakes). Polonius is most often interpreted as a babbling fool as he is he is a babbling fool in many cases. He is made a fool of by Hamlet on numerous occasions and also meanders and contradicts himself in many of his own speeches. liege, and madam, to expostulate/ What majesty should be, what duty Why day is day, night night, and time is time,/ Were nothing but to waste night, day and time./ Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,/ And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,/ I will be brief” (Shakespeare, II,ii,1219). [...]
[...] Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy. A tragedy is simply a dramatic story which ends sadly, or with death. “Frye defines Tragedy as being ‘really about disaster'. If Comedy is about the hero's integration into his society, Tragedy is about the hero's separation from society” (Hamilton 5). Hamlet is definitely separated from society. He feels betrayed to his core by Claudius, Ophelia, Gertrude, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; he hides an incredibly important secret which he cannot tell due to its questionable validity; he might be going mad or is faking it in order to fool those around him; and he must kill a country's new leader in order to rightfully avenge his father's death. [...]
[...] Archetypal (sometimes referred to as criticism originates from the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung. postulated that humankind has a ‘collective unconscious,' a kind of universal psyche, which is manifested in dreams and myths and which harbors themes and images that we all inherit” (Delahoyde 1). In the theory that Jung put forth, mankind shares common experiences and is aware of universal patterns such as the loss of innocence, or the cycle of death and rebirth, which are all continually expressed through art, literature, and poetry. [...]
[...] Archetypal analysis is a very helpful way to learn about a character's role in a story from the unique perspective of his or her role in the history of character types. In Hamlet, Shakespeare presented the three main males characters as close to some common archetypes, but slightly varied in order to make them more understandable and relatable to the common person. Hamlet is essentially a Tragic Hero, Claudius is the classic Trickster Villain, and Polonius is a combination of the Wise Man, the Scapegoat, and the Fool. [...]
[...] Though he is presented with a challenge in which he must endure great struggle and personal aliment to overcome (the classic set up of a heroic tale), the entire plot of the play rests on Hamlet's inability to carry out the act ordained to him; Hamlet is obviously the protagonist in this tragedy, but is he the archetypal Hero? It is clear that Hamlet does not fit the mold of the classic hero; he is not the embodiment of pure strength and magnanimity as was Hercules, and he does not have to conquer a villain in order to save mankind. [...]
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