Realism and Imagination Within Hamlet Essay

2674 Words Jun 26th, 2012 11 Pages
Realism and Imagination within Hamlet


No doubt, Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet is composed of both realistic and poetic or imaginative elements. Let us explore the presence of both with the play.



According to the best of literary critics, realism is basically “representing human life and experience” (Abrams 260). In the essay “An Explication of the Player’s Speech,” Harry Levin explains how the playwright achieves an “imitation of life” in his play:



Since the theater perforce exaggerates, amplifying its pathos and stylizing its diction, it takes a specially marked degree of amplification and stylization to dramatize the theatrical, as Schlegel realized. Conversely, when matters pertaining to the stage are
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The first soliloquy occurs when the hero is left alone after the royal social gathering in the room of state. It emphasizes the general corruption of society and the frailty of women – an obvious reference to his mother’s hasty and incestuous marriage to her husband’s brother – thus expressing a rather imaginatively idealistic outlook on the situation:



O, that this too too solid flesh would melt

Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!

Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!

How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,

Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,

That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature

Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:

So excellent a king; that was, to this,

Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother

That he might not beteem the winds of heaven

Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!

Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,

As if increase of appetite had grown

By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--

Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!— (1.2)



Regarding the prince’s reference to the corrupt world as “an unweeded garden,” Northrop Frye’s “Nature and Nothing” explains the imaginative overtones which the Bard…

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