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-- for comparison.
-- for comparison.
"Antonio's Revenge" by John Marston, is mentioned bya contemporary source as 1601,and has a very similar plot to Shakespeare's "Hamlet".
Thomas Nashe wrote in 1589 in his introduction to abook by Robert Greene, "English Seneca read by candlelightyields many good sentences -- as 'Blood is a beggar'and so forth; and if you entreat him fair on a frosty morninghe will offer you whole Hamlets, I should say handfuls,of tragical speeches!" Nashe is mostly spoofing ThomasKyd, who wrote blood-and-thunder revenge plays.
Ib. sc. i and 2. Shakspeare seems to mean all Hamlet's character to be brought together before his final disappearance from the scene;his meditative excess in the grave-digging, his yielding to passion with Laertes, his love for Ophelia blazing out, his tendency to generalize on all occasions in the dialogue with Horatio, his fine gentlemanly manners with Osrick, and his and Shak-speare's own fondness for presentiment:
At first glance, it holds all of the common occurrences in a revenge tragedy which include plotting, ghosts, and madness, but its complexity as a story far transcends its functionality as a revenge tragedy.
The imagery of death and uncertainty has a direct impact on Hamlet’s state of mind as he struggles to search for the truth on his quest for revenge as he switches between his two incompatible values of his Christian codes of honour and humanist beliefs which come into direct conflict....
I first read tried to read Hamlet in junior high school. It wasn't assigned. I just thought I had better read it because everyone said it was such an important work of literature. So I got a copy from the library and tried to read it, but I gave up after three pages because I had a hard time remembering who was supposed to be talking. And, to be honest, much of what was being said didn't make sense. Amazingly, Hamlet didn't show up in high school, but when I got to my freshmen English course in college, there he was. Now I had to read the play (if only to finish my term paper). Still, I must confess, that I wasn't terribly struck by the play's genius, nor was I bowled over during my four years as an undergraduate when I had to read it a few more times. I tended to prefer Shakespeare's history plays. Henry V had some interesting battles and great speeches, and I also liked Julius Caesar, which, by the way, is one of Shakespeare's shorter works.
There is a great significancy in the names of Shakspeare's plays. In the Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, and Winter's Tale, the total effect is produced by a coordination of the characters as in a wreath of flowers. But in Coriolanus, Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, &c. the effect arises from the subordination of all to one, either as the prominent person, or the principal object. Cymbeline is the only exception; and even that has its advantages in preparing the audience for the chaos of time, place, and costume, by throwing the date back into a fabulous king's reign.
Of course, I can't possibly say anything about the play that hasn't been said before (and most likely said better). The library shelves groan with criticism. But I've never dipped too deeply into this critical mountain, so whatever take I hold on the play is my own, however many times it's been said before. (In truth, I suspect mine is a fairly generic existentialist view.) So for what it's worth, here is my take on Hamlet.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, needs to avenge his father's murder; this is complicated by the fact that the murderer is his own uncle, who has married Hamlet's mother (Gertrude). Hamlet eventually gets his revenge, but not before just about everyone dies.
But as of more importance, so more striking, is the judgment displayed by our truly dramatic poet, as well as poet of the drama, in the management of his first scenes. With the single exception of Cymbeline, they either place before us at one glance both the past and the future in some effect, which implies the continuance and full agency of its cause, as in the feuds and party-spirit of the servants of the two houses in the first scene of Romeo and Juliet; or in the degrading passion for shews and public spectacles, and the overwhelming attachment for the newest successful war-chief in the Roman people, already become a populace, contrasted with the jealousy of the nobles in Julius Caesar;or they at once commence the action so as to excite a curiosity for the explanation in the following scenes, as in the storm of wind and waves, and the boatswain in the Tempest, instead of anticipating our curiosity, as in most other first scenes, and in too many other first acts;or they act, by contrast of diction suited to the characters, at once to heighten the effect, and yet to give a naturalness to the language and rhythm of the principal personages, either as that of Prospero and Miranda by the appropriate lowness of the style,or as in King John, by the equally appropriate stateliness of official harangues or narratives, so that the after blank verse seems to belong to the rank and quality of the speakers, and not to the poet;or they strike at once the keynote, and give the predominant spirit of the play, as in the Twelfth Night and in Macbeth;or finally, the first scene comprises all these advantages at once, as in Hamlet.
So Hamlet hesitates before acting, and people always wonder why. Part of the answer, it seems to me, is that he's in a tight spot, one that necessitates a pause for consideration. But there seems to be something more worrying Hamlet. At his very first appearance in the play, he comes across as deeply cynical about life. He calls the world "weary, stale, flat and unprofitable" even before he meets the ghost. It's also clear that he has seriously considered killing himself.
In fact, Hamlet is so cynical about the world that he seems to doubt whether there's much point in doing anything. So when people wonder why Hamlet hesitates, I always wonder what they expect him to do. After all, if you really believe the world is hopelessly screwed up, why should you take action? It won't change anything. So it seems to me that even before the play begins Hamlet has arrived at the philosophical dead end of nihilism, the philosophy that life is ultimately without purpose or meaning. And if the nihilists are right, why bother to kill Claudius?