Hamlet – A Psychological Play Essays

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Hamlet – A Psychological Play

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a psychological drama for the basic reasons that it treats the mind of the protagonist as the critical force in the play, and it displays one dimension of that mind – the melancholy dimension – as the overarching concern of just about everyone in the play.

Helen Gardner in “Hamlet and the Tragedy of Revenge” explains how Hamlet’s psyche is the basis for his victory over the antagonist Claudius:

Hamlet’s agony of mind and indecision are precisely the things which differentiate him from that smooth, swift plotter Claudius, and from the coarse, unthinking Laertes, ready to "dare damnation" and cut his enemy's thr’at in a churchyard. He quickly learns from
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Soon Horatio and Marcellus make contact with Hamlet. Based on this meeting of the hero and Horatio, A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy presents convincing evidence regarding the depth of the hero’s melancholy sentiment:

Hamlet and Horatio are supposed to be fellow-students at Wittenberg, and to have left it for Elsinore less than two months ago. Yet Hamlet hardly recognizes Horatio at first, and speaks as if he himself lived at Elsinore (I refer to his bitter jest, ‘We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart’). Who would dream that Hamlet had himself f just come from Wittenberg, if it were not for the previous words about his going back there?

How can this be explained on the usual view? Only, I presume, by supposing that Hamlet is so sunk in melancholy that he really does almost ‘forget himself’ and forgets everything else, so that he actually is in doubt who Horatio is. (370)

The ghost tells the prince that King Hamlet was murdered by Claudius, who had an illicit relationship with Gertrude. Hamlet swears vengeance. Gertrude’s punishment is to be “her conscience” (Edwards 67). The ghost’s visit scarcely provides relief for the protagonist’s melancholy; rather it exacerbates his situation. Maynard Mack in “The World of Hamlet” tells why;

The ghost’s injunction to revenge unfolds a different facet of

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