Shakespeare Play: Hamlet

6 down, 10 to go…

I’m back to University on Sunday and I suppose getting a bit of a head start on the reading is quite good. If you’re reading this now after I just posted this then I know that the scheduled publishing feature works great on  this site as I am currently watching Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre in the West End! (A review is most likely to follow!)

Hamlet is possibly one of the, if not the, most popular and famous Shakespeare play and I can definitely see why. This play grips you from the very first page and keeps you waiting until the final scenes to unfold the crucial plot developments that we have been waiting for. There are so many questions raised from reading this play it is hard to answer all of them, there are so many different interpretations that can be read from the text which is what I most like about Hamlet. It means that realistically every time you read the play, or see it, it can and probably will be performed differently and I think that that is just extraordinary.

Shakespeare constantly presents the idea that the world is painful to live in and this is a major theme carried throughout. In the opening scenes we learn of Hamlet’s loss of his Dad (The King of Denmark), how his Uncle has married his Mother and become King and we see Hamlet’s father return as a ghost, vowing for Hamlet to get revenge. From the outset it is set as a revenge tragedy and like one of the previous plays that I read, ‘The Spanish Tragedy’, it follows a similar structure.

Once you’ve decided whether Hamlet is acting or actually mad, whether he loves or pretends to love Ophelia and if you are pro- or anti-Hamlet then it is easier to form your own interpretation of the scenes that lead to the climax and ending action of the play. Personally, I am pro-Hamlet, I like his character and I want him to succeed in his revenge of killing his Uncle for murdering his father. I think that Hamlet is acting mad but then becomes mad and that he actually does love Ophelia. He chooses to ignore his feelings to get revenge and it is this that finally drives his mad. This is mirrored by wanting to murder his Uncle in the right way when he is acting mad and why he doesn’t hesitate when he has the chance again. In my opinion Hamlet has no one on his side as his mother betrays him, his Uncle betrays him, Ophelia dismisses his love for her at first, his friends from college turn on him and I think it could be his loneliness that also drives him to become insane, supported by his killing of Polonius. However, there is just too much evidence supporting if Hamlet is mad or if he is acting mad and I’d like to hear what other people interpreted from the text too!

It ends with death and betrayal with most of the central characters of the play dead on the stage in the closing scenes; a key image of Shakespeare tragedies. The feature of using a play within a play to reinforce the actions within the play is also evident here and is used superbly and creatively.

I really enjoyed this play and can’t believe that I have not read this (or seen it!) sooner. It gets a 9/10 because it is interesting, it opens debate whilst the audience gets all of its answers and I have not read much literature that manages to achieve both of these things. I like that Hamlet is a mystery and you can sort of choose what he is depending on how you view him. This is a classic Shakespeare play with several recognisable images, it is well quoted, well-known and I think that this should be read by everyone. If you haven’t read this yet, then please do but most of all please…Enjoy!

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8 thoughts on “Shakespeare Play: Hamlet

  1. Haven’t read Hamlet yet but have it pencilled in, along with Othello and Macbeth ( which we read at school many moons ago) for March/ April reads. I was very interested to read your thoughts, thanks for sharing

    • Hey, there are a few bits in the text that suggest that Hamlet did love Ophelia. A few examples are the letter that Hamlet writes to Ophelia in Act 2 Scene 2, in Act 3 Scene 1 he says that he ‘did love her once’ and Hamlet’s reaction to her death confirms his love for her. Even though there is more evidence suggesting that their relationship is faulty, Hamlet could just be expressing insecurities because of the relationship he had with his mother? Just a thought :)

  2. I am finally watching 1969 hamlet with Anthony Hopkins. I think this versions follows your theory…which I also support. I am new to this but love the idea f various versions and interpretations . It does seem he cares for Ophelia but trusts very few.

  3. I believe that Horatio is on his side throughout the play, even until the end where he talks about killing himself by drinking the wine and Hamlet tells him otherwise. The only time this relationship slightly falters is when Hamlet is telling him of how he killed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  4. Hey, I like your interpretation. I am currently writing an essay on Hamlet’s madness and will probably adopt your viewpoints for my own. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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