An Example Of Revenge Tragedy In Hamlet By William Shakespeare

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As Stephen Evans describes in his “Study Guide for Hamlet”, Shakespeare’s most studied play is an example of revenge tragedy. Furthermore, Shakespeare reworked previous dramatic sources and materials to produce an intricate tragedy that progresses to articulate considerably to the worldwide human condition (Evans, 2). Therefore, while Hamlet continues to focus on the human condition, the topic of Hamlet’s “madness” will be discussed. Thus, Hamlet feigns his madness throughout the play which results in his and others’ demise, however, his supposed “madness” represents his enactment of purpose on a higher plane of existence through his goal to avenge his dead father, but to also rid of the incest that Claudius has delivered and restore the splendor …show more content…
Hamlet commits to this role fiercely because he’s not just going to simply kill Claudius, but he’s going to risk his relationship with his mother, Queen Gertrude, and Ophelia by acting insane. Stephen Evans also states that, “he will be doomed to pay for that satisfaction with his life” (Evans, 3). To expand, by taking the life of his uncle for killing his father, Hamlet will also lose his life. To further my claim on Hamlet not becoming truly “mad,” we must look toward the beginning of the play. We first encounter the avenger when the young Prince Hamlet returns home from studying at Wittenberg to mourn the death of his father and to celebrate the marriage of his mother to his uncle Claudius who has now become the king of Denmark, he finds himself engrossed in the agonizing process of reassessing his view of his parents and of himself, according to Greenblatt’s essay “Hamlet.” “His family has undergone unexpected and traumatic changes” (Greenblatt, 1182). These changes obviously include the death of their king, and a father and husband, however, these changes are extended for Hamlet with his mother marrying his uncle and bringing incest into their kingdom. Along with the murder of Hamlet’s father, the idea of marriage has also been “murdered” for him as Stephen Evans states …show more content…
However, it’s not clear that Hamlet welcomes death (Greenblatt, 963). The consequence of Hamlet taking on the role of avenger and fulfilling his purpose based on a higher plane of existence is the death of the whole royal family. Hamlet is, in fact, Shakespeare’s most studied play. However, how we study this revenge tragedy today is not the same way it was studied during the time this play was written and performed. Renaissance psychologists had a word for Hamlet’s condition: melancholy, a state of spiritual desolation akin to madness but also to literary artistic genius (Greenblatt, 1187). The original audiences of Hamlet would have acknowledged that Hamlet had a sickness known as “melancholy adust,” a condition of imbalance in the body caused by the predominance of one of the major bodily fluids (Evans, 6). “Melancholy adust” was considered a “male” disorder and was characteristic to those having a “poet’s temperament” (Evans, 6). Therefore, audiences during this may have stated that Hamlet wasn’t truly “mad,” but perhaps ill. This supports my claim of Hamlet not becoming truly insane in that even though we must not impose modern knowledge regarding insanity on a play written over four hundred years ago, even audiences of Shakespeare’s time would have agreed that Shakespeare’s prince wasn’t truly

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