William Shakespeare is among the best-known and celebrated playwrights in the history of mankind. There is no unambiguous approach to explaining the phenomenon of William Shakespeare as a poet, a dramatist, a director, an actor, and a theater reformist. There is no denying the fact that William Shakespeare proved himself to be an expert on human psychology. William Shakespeare’s literary heritage includes sonnets, comedies, tragedies, tragicomedies, and histories. The author’s contribution to dramatic arts and theater, in general, remains inestimable to these days. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, most commonly referred to as Hamlet, is one of the plays by William Shakespeare that most of the researchers these days define as controversial. On the other hand, Hamlet is one of the best-loved tragedies by William Shakespeare the relevance and applicability of which are considered in the modern world.
It is believed that William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet very early in the 1600s. Dating the play (identifying the more or less exact time when it was written) seems next to impossible these days. However, a manuscript note by Gabriel Harvey can be viewed as conclusive proof that the author revised his work (Hirrel 292). With regard to this, it is essential to point that one of the possible reasons for the revision of the play was the execution of the Earl of Essex on the 25th of February, 1601 (Hirrel 291). Even though William Shakespeare’s Hamlet can by no means be taken as a credible historical source, author’s thorough historical research preceded the creation of the play. The plot of the play revolves around Hamlet, a young Danish Prince who discovers that his own father’s death was actually a murder, treason, an artful intrigue played by Hamlet’s own uncle. Thus, the conflict of the dramatic work is Hamlet making a decision whether or not to take revenge for the King’s (his father’s) death.
Hamlet’s hesitations that can be noted throughout the play are something that constitutes the point of major controversy in the play itself. In other words, these days, the researchers cannot reach an agreement as to why exactly the tragedy’s protagonist is hesitating. With regard to this, Gilbert Ryle’s approach proves relevant. Gilbert Ryle is a British critic and philosopher who invented the term “polar concept” (Maleki 19). The polar concept is typically defined as “a postmodern hermeneutical form of reading and analyzing texts” (Maleki 19). The very essence of hermeneutic implies that some important ethical, philosophical, and, at some point, psychological issues are under consideration in the work of art being discussed.
As one of the central characters of the play, Hamlet forces the readers to reconsider what humanity actually is. In other words, Hamlet is the kind of character that is capable of making the audience rethink what being humane means. The dramatic piece abounds with the main character’s artistic vocations (Maleki 23). Thus, Hamlet as a personage can be characterized as pensive. At the same time, the young Prince can be viewed as a metaphor for it is he who represents the dialectics and a lot of contrarieties that are a part of human nature. By and large, Hamlet represents the duality in the play (Maleki 23). Hamlet is an intelligent, fair, and wise man. He is also a devoted and loving son. Apparently, the young Prince does not belong in the world of Elsinore swarming with corruption, intrigues, and treasons. The time when the events of the play take place is shaped by the social conventions demanding that Hamlet kills him who destroyed the King, Hamlet’s father, and dishonored the Queen, Hamlet’s mother. All things considered, Hamlet is in a metaphorical trap. Challenging King Claudius to a duel is by all means Hamlet’s realized act. Assuming the foregoing statement is correct, Prince Hamlet is very well aware of the fact the blood vengeance would be his downfall.
By and large, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet can be defined as a surveillance tragedy (Zacharias 80). Furthermore, the play refers to the following problems: intrusions into the privacy of citizens, compulsive search for the truth, abuse of power on the authorities’ part, psychological imprisonment, loss of democracy, moral corruption, and destruction of a state (Zacharias 80). With regard to this, the following point should be taken into account. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a piece of fiction; still, somehow, it gives insight into the social order in the Middle Age Scandinavia and that of the Elizabethan age. Even more importantly, at some point, the play shows how feudalism and constitutionalism appeared and was put into action (Zacharias 80). Unwittingly, to a certain extent, William Shakespeare proved himself to be a strong opponent of monarchy as long as it was a form of oppression and violence (Zacharias 97). All things considered, in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, not just the important ethical, artistic, cultural, psychological, and philosophical questions are being discussed, but some political issues of the day are addressed in an artistically perfect form as well.
Hamlet is one of the major works ever written by William Shakespeare. It is the story of a state, a family, and a man. In the play, the author managed to artistically reconsider the reality he lived in through the lens of the past. A variety of issues raised in the play make it topical and popular in our time.