The Dramatic Significance of Act 3 Scene 4 in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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The Dramatic Significance of Act 3 Scene 4 in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Hamlet is known to be the most popular play written by Shakespeare. It is also, by a significant margin, the longest of Shakespeare's plays. It has been translated to many languages and has become the subject of excited and critical debate more than any other work of literature.

The play was written around 1602 or 1603 at a period of time when Elizabethan London was a melting pot of unprecedented intellectual and artistic ferment. In Elizabethan England the conviction that retaliation for murder was solely the prerogative of the state and its legal institutions clashed with an irrational but powerful feeling that private
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He must also have been familiar with a considerable body of literature, much of it dramatic, in which revenge was a central preoccupation and motif.

Chronologically the first of what it has become customary to refer to as Shakespeare's 'great tragedies', Hamlet must have been written shortly after Julius Caesar (1599), another if very different revenge play. At tow moments in Hamlet the killing of Caesar is remembered. Julius Caesar had contained a vengeful ghost. It also adumbrated, existing between Caesar and his protégé Brutus, a troubled father-son relationship which, for some reason, seems to have occupied Shakespeare's imagination to a considerable extent around the turn of the century. Hamlet complicates the motif by directing attention to three linked father-and-son pairs: old Hamle6t and the prince who has inherited his name but not his kingdom, old Fortinbras and a son whose situation parallels that of Hamlet but whose character is very different, Polonius and Laertes. All three fathers die by violence. All three sons feel it incumbent upon them to exact a revenge, but the response of each to his task is wholly individual.

Hamlet is universally popular because the central character is somebody to whom few people can feel indifferent. The audience can identify with Hamlet as a kind of spokesman for their own experience of

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