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Archetypal criticism – Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Archetypal criticism as one avenue in a vast array of critical approaches towards literature.
  3. The character of Hamlet.
  4. The Lord of the Rings - Frodo.
  5. A tragic hero - a common character in tragedies which originated from Greek tragedy.
  6. The archetype of the Villain.
  7. Polonius - a very strange and unique character in Hamlet.
  8. Conclusion.

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. [...]


[...] Many times, the Villain is a type of Devil-figure who is pure evil and whose main purpose is to counter the actions of the protagonist, or hero. Claudius is a unique antagonist in Hamlet as it can hardly be said that he is pure evil, or that he wants to destroy Hamlet, in fact, Claudius is mostly concerned with himself and his own well-being. So is Claudius the archetypal Villain? If so, what type of Villain is he? Villain, Trickster or Enigma will usually be your antagonist. [...]

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