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Free Hamlet Essays: Hamlet Interpreted

Hamlet Interpreted

It is clear Hamlet can be interpreted from a multitude of perspectives on numerous levels. I cannot quite grasp Mr. Bloom’s contention that this is a work of near biblical importance nor can I accept his allusions to Jesus or the Buddha. “Hamlet remains apart; something transcendent about him places him more aptly with the biblical King David, or with even more exalted scriptural figures.”(Bloom, 384). My immediate response is that when Mr. Bloom shuffles off this mortal coil, I don’t believe Billy Shakespeare will be waiting with a pint of ale.

Professor Schechner’s enjoyable production increased my appreciation of the value of wardrobe and inflection of voice. Prior to this performance I did not see Polonius as a buffoon (as portrayed by Mr. Shapli), nor the incestuous nature of Ophelia’s familial relationships (Ms. Cole’s ability to transform from coquette to lunatic was shocking). Doubtless there are near as many interpretations of Hamlet as there are Shakespearean aficionados.

My own expertise lies in the political arena. I believe Hamlet could be construed as a treatise on aggressive, imperialist behavior.

Throughout the Dramaturgic Analysis of Hamlet Prince of Denmark the indecisiveness of Hamlet is noted. He does not immediately seek vengeance but continually schemes, rants and raves (both in his rational and insane moments). Whether cowardice, caution, or simply indifference dominate his persona is unclear – what is clear is his distaste for his own behavior: “How stand I then, That have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d,…And let all sleep, while to my shame I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men… (sic).” (Shakespeare, 116).

The impending doom of the twenty thousand men alludes to a campaign waged by Fortinbas, the Prince of Norway. Though the battleground is said to be of little value, Fortinbas is warring on principles of honor and the subsequent expansion of Norway.

An enraged Hamlet mistakenly slays Polonius. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are sent to their inconsequential deaths only when he is inspired by pirates to save his own life. These murders involved no elaborate schemes but were simply enacted. Yet with all his planning, his opportunities, his justification, why can he not kill Claudius?

The portrayal of the pirates as “merciful thieves” (Shakespeare, 124) and the fact that warlike Fortinbras succeeds in Poland and obtains the Kingdom of Denmark by play’s end – may be a commentary on decisive, imperialistic behavior.

tragoed Elements of Tragedy in Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex)

Elements of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex

It is not the tragic subject matter of the text that is of primary interest – but rather the manner in which the plot is developed. The story line progresses as if the reader is “unpeeling an onion.”

The tale of King Oedipus is well known. An enraged Oedipus unknowingly slays his father (Laiusq, King of Thebes) and supplants him as monarch and as husband to his own mother (Queen Jocasta). As each successive “layer of the onion” is unpeeled, Oedipus is brought a step closer to realizing the true nature of his actions. Foretold in prophecy and initiated by his anger, the downfall of Oedipus comes to fruition as all facts gradually come to light.

This “enlightening” starts with the revelations of a blind prophet named Tiresias. Though sightless, Tiresias can “see” the truth. He argues with Oedipus “…you have your sight, and do not see… . Yea, you are ignorant… .”(Sophocles, 15). Understandably, Oedipus is enraged at the prophet’s accusations and fatally insists on investigating the murder of King Laius.

In Aristotle’s Poetics, it is stated that a tragedy must be complete – having a beginning, middle and end. Of equal importance “…the sequence of events, according to the law of probability or necessity, will admit of a change from bad fortune to good or from good fortune to bad.”(Aristotle, 15).

The impetus for the downfall of Oedipus, “Known far and wide by name” (Sophocles, 1), is his anger. Enraged he slew King Laius and in anger he hastily pursued his own ruination. From the aforementioned recriminations of Tiresias to the conflict with his brother-in-law Creon (his ill temper again displayed – “Tempers such as yours most grievous to their own selves to bear,… .(Sophocles, 25); through the revealing exchanges with his wife/mother Jocasta and her slave (whose pity saved the infant Oedipus), damming insight grows in a logical sequence, all the while fueled by the Oedipal rage. Realizing the heinous nature of his actions, Oedipus blinds himself in a fit of anger and remorse – now, as Tiresias, he can see.

In an age where popular entertainment is apparently guided by the maxim “more is better” (see the body count in any popular “action thriller”) and “special effects” dominate,

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