Literary Criticism Essay On Hamlet

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Hamlet Resources

Please see the main Hamlet page for the complete play with explanatory notes and study questions for each scene.

 Introduction to Hamlet
 Hamlet: Problem Play and Revenge Tragedy
 The Hamlet and Ophelia Subplot
 The Norway Subplot in Hamlet
 Introduction to the Characters in Hamlet

 Hamlet Plot Summary
 The Purpose of The Murder of Gonzago
 The Dumb-Show: Why Hamlet Reveals his Knowledge to Claudius
 The Elder Hamlet: The Kingship of Hamlet's Father
 Hamlet's Relationship with the Ghost

 Philological Examination Questions on Hamlet
 Quotations from Hamlet (with commentary)
 Hamlet Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
 Analysis of I am sick at heart (1.1)
 Hamlet: Q & A

 Soliloquy Analysis: O this too too... (1.2)
 Soliloquy Analysis: O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!... (2.2)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be, or not to be... (3.1)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Tis now the very witching time of night... (3.2)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Now might I do it pat... (3.3)
 Soliloquy Analysis: How all occasions do inform against me... (4.4)

 Ophelia's Burial and Christian Rituals
 The Baker's Daughter: Ophelia's Nursery Rhymes
 Hamlet as National Hero
 Claudius and the Condition of Denmark

 In Secret Conference: The Meeting Between Claudius and Laertes
 O Jephthah - Toying with Polonius
 The Death of Polonius and its Impact on Hamlet's Character
 Blank Verse and Diction in Shakespeare's Hamlet

 Hamlet Essay Topics
 Hamlet's Silence
 An Excuse for Doing Nothing: Hamlet's Delay
 Foul Deeds Will Rise: Hamlet and Divine Justice
 Defending Claudius - The Charges Against the King
 Shakespeare's Fools: The Grave-Diggers in Hamlet

 Hamlet's Humor: The Wit of Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark
 All About Yorick
 Hamlet's Melancholy: The Transformation of the Prince
 Hamlet's Antic Disposition: Is Hamlet's Madness Real?

 The Significance of the Ghost in Armor
 The Significance of Ophelia's Flowers
 Ophelia and Laertes
 Mistrusted Love: Ophelia and Polonius

 Divine Providence in Hamlet
 What is Tragic Irony?
 Seneca's Tragedies and the Elizabethan Drama
 Shakespeare's Sources for Hamlet

 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy
 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Influence on Other Writers

In the Spotlight

Quote in Context

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
                                                           Hamlet (2.2), Hamlet

In addition to revealing Hamlet's plot to catch the king in his guilt, Hamlet's second soliloquy uncovers the very essence of Hamlet's true conflict. For he is undeniably committed to seeking revenge for his father, yet he cannot act on behalf of his father due to his revulsion toward extracting that cold and calculating revenge. Read on...


Hamlet History

King Claudius. Our son shall win.
Queen Gertrude. He's fat, and scant of breath.
                                                     Hamlet (5.2)

Gertrude's startling description of her son is not quite what we modern readers have in mind when envisioning the brooding young Prince Hamlet. But how can we explain the Queen's frank words? There is evidence to believe that Shakespeare had to work around the rotund stature of his good friend Richard Burbage, the first actor to play Hamlet. "As he was a portly man of large physique, it was natural that the strenuous exertion bring out the fact that he was fat or out of training, as well as scant of breath....He was the first and the last fat Hamlet" (Blackmore, Riddles of Hamlet). An elegy written upon Burbage's death in 1619 convincingly ties "King Dick", as he was affectionately called by his fellow actors, to the line in question:
No more young Hamlet, though but scant of breath, Shall cry Revenge! for his dear father's death.
                                            (A Funeral Elegy)
It is natural to wonder why the death of Burbage was a national tragedy, while the passing of Shakespeare himself just three years earlier received such little attention. There seems, however, to be a simple answer. Read on...

Literary Criticisms of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

1234 Words5 Pages

This essay will discuss several literary criticisms of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. After skimming through several articles, I ended up with four peer-reviewed journal articles, each a different critical perspectives of the play: feminist, psychoanalytical/freudian, moral, and new historicism. My previous studies of Hamlet, as well as my rereading of the play this semester, has collectively given me a general knowledge of the text. My familiarity of the play made it easier for me to decipher the academic journals and see the connections each critic made with the play. I found it interesting, that after reading Hamlet so many times, that there were connections I never made on my own. For instance, the character Francisco only…show more content…

I enjoyed this moral critique, and, assuming Shakespeare intended for his audience to make the connection, gives me a better understanding of the playwright's own morality. Looking at the play through this moralistic perspective, Claudius’s actions would be defined as immoral: he violates a general moral principle by killing his brother and then again by taking what belonged to the King and made it his without permission. The murdered king does reappear, however, as a a ghost. The ghost in Hamlet is the subject of many literary critiques; in my research I came across two articles in particular about this topic that caught my interest. In particular, Zimmerman’s article explores Kristeva theory of abjection. The reaction from a threatening breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the ability to distinguish between subject/self and object/other. The human corpse is one of the most common causes of this reaction because it reminds the living of their own materiality. Upon reading this I was able to relate it to Hamlet as Zimmerman did, “When the ghost first appears, he comes encased in armor, a "portentous figure," a "fair and warlike form" (1.1.112, 50). What lies behind the armor is of course a corpse: if what makes Hamlet Sr. seem alive is his battle-ready fierceness, then what makes him an "illusion" is the mystery within. "no/thing," an apprehensible outside enclosing and

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