In his essay “Hamlet: His Own Falstaff,” Harold Goddard sees that Hamlet was made for “religion” and several other purposes:
He [Hamlet] was made, that is, for religion and philosophy, for love and art, for liberty to “grow unto himself” – five forces that are the elemental enemies of Force.
And this man is called upon to kill. It is almost as if Jesus had been asked to play the role of Napoleon (as the temptation in the wilderness suggests that in some sense he was). If Jesus had been, ought he to have accepted it? The absurdity of the question prompts the recording of the strangest of all the strange facts in the history of Hamlet: the fact, namely, that nearly all readers, commentators, and critics are agreed in thinking that it was Hamlet’s duty to kill, that he ought indeed to have killed much sooner than he did. (12)
Goddard’s highlighting of the main question underlying the narrative of the play – a moral question – indicates the spiritual nature of Hamlet. Not all critics appreciate the spirituality in Hamlet. A.C. Bradley’s Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth presents a different interpretation regarding the presence of spirituality within the play:
For although this or that dramatis persona may speak of gods or of God, of evil spirits or of Satan, of heaven and of hell, and although the poet may show us ghosts from another world, these ideas do not materially influence his representation of life, nor are they used…
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…Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Rpt. from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.
Rosenberg, Marvin. “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Masks of Hamlet. Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 1992.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html
West, Rebecca. “A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Court and the Castle. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957.
Wilson, John Dover. What happens in Hamlet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1959.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet and its Gertrude
Hamlet and its Gertrude
How queenly is the current queen in Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet? Is she an unprincipled opportunist? A passion-dominated lover? A wife first and mother last? Let’s study her life in this play.
Courtney Lehmann and Lisa S. Starks in “Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet,” comment on the contamination of the queen in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
Hamlet, a play that centres on the crisis of the masculine subject and its “radical confrontation with the sexualized maternal body,” foregrounds male anxiety about mothers, female sexuality, and hence, sexuality itself. Obsessed with the corruption of the flesh, Hamlet is pathologically fixated on questions of his own origin and destination — questions which are activated by his irrepressible attraction to and disgust with the “contaminated” body of his mother. (1)
At the outset of the drama, Hamlet’s mother is apparently disturbed by her son’s appearance in solemn black at the gathering of the court, and she requests of him:
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity. (1.2)
The queen obviously considers her son’s dejection to result from his father’s demise. She joins the king in asking Hamlet to stay in Elsinore rather than returning to Wittenberg. Respectfully the prince replies, “I shall in all my best obey you, madam.” So at the outset the audience notes a decidedl…
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Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets. London : George Bell and Sons, 1904. p. 342-368. http://ds.dial.pipex.com/thomas_larque/ham1-col.htm
Jorgensen, Paul A. “Hamlet.” William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/jorg-hamlet.html
Lehmann, Courtney and Lisa S. Starks. “Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet.” Early Modern Literary Studies 6.1 (May, 2000): 2.1-24 .
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.