This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Classical And Renaissance Paradigms Of Heroism In Hamlet

1612 words - 6 pages

Classical and Renaissance paradigms of heroism in Hamlet

In the early part of the seventeenth century, when William Shakespeare wrote The
tragedy of Hamlet, prince of Denmark, Europe was the center of a waning Renaissance that had,
over the past three centuries, changed the intellectual bedrock of the West beyond recognition.
The moral code of conduct for the common people had been transformed into one that embodied
the tenets of Christianity, but there was one thing left undone. The upper classes still clung to the
old ways – the Graeco-Roman ideas of royalty, nobility and heroism. The question of what it
meant to be a king or a prince had yet to be addressed in the context of the Renaissance. The
paradigms of heroism and rulership set forth in the great Greek epics yet held sway over
members of royalty and the noblesse. In the play Hamlet therefore, Shakespeare attempts to
provide the prototype of a hero of the Renaissance, personified by Prince Hamlet. The qualities
necessary for such a hero are compared and contrasted with those associated with classical
heroism through the use of classical allusion and transitions between religious and secular
language. Further, the juxtaposition of Hamlet with the characters Laertes and Fortinbras – both
of whom are to be regarded as heroes of the old paradigm – shows with enormous clarity, the
conflict that prevailed between the two schools of thought.
Shakespeare depicts the quintessential classical hero as having a number of great
qualities. These are not enumerated explicitly; rather we are led to infer them from the
playwright’s frequent allusions to the mythical champions of the Graeco-Roman tradition. On
the urging of Hamlet, one of the players recites part of a speech describing the slaughter of
Priam, last king of Troy, by Pyrrhus, son of Achilles. The following lines portray the immense
physical strength of the latter:

And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall
On Mars’s armour, forg’d for proof eterne,
With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword
Now falls on Priam (II. ii. 477-480).
In the above lines, the ferocity of the remorseless attack by Pyrrhus on Priam is likened to the
awesome force of the Cyclopean hammers busily crafting the armor of Mars, the Greek God of
war, thereby stressing Pyrrhus’ physical prowess. Of equal weight are Hamlet’s references to the
corporeal beauty of his late father:
See what a grace was seated on this brow;
Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill:
A combination and a form indeed
Where every god did seem to set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man (III. iv. 55-62).
One of the most poignant speeches in the play delivered by Hamlet, there can be no better
description of a classical hero: the perfect prototype of a warrior-king.
The renaissance hero, as portrayed by Hamlet, is by no means physically...

Find Another Essay On Classical and Renaissance Paradigms of Heroism in Hamlet

Heroism in Beowulf and Frankenstein Essay

952 words - 4 pages With fear comes courage, with experience comes bravery, and with pain comes strength. One may assume that these traits are the exact characteristics a hero. However, heroism can come in many different forms. Victor Frankenstein, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Beowulf exemplify many different traits of heroism. The perfect image of a true hero is Beowulf. His courage and confidence seems to come naturally. He is the ideal man; he puts

Blurred Lines of Heroism and Villainy in Shakspeare's Henry V

1472 words - 6 pages King Henry V is considered to be by far one of the greatest rulers to ever have graced the throne of England. Shakespeare demonstrates this belief by exemplifying Henry’s strong attributes showing just how great and powerful of a leader Henry was. However the issue of power and ethics plays a tremendous role in the personification of Henry as a person. There is no doubt that Henry’s power and ethical stance makes him a great king, but by being a

Heroism in Epic of Gilgamesh

948 words - 4 pages Heroism in Gilgamesh   Heroism entails several things; a selfless act, courage, or the accomplishments of bold and daring expeditions. A hero can often be of divine ancestry. But every hero has faults and these faults along with heroic deeds make the man, or woman; a hero. Gilgamesh loved his friend Enkidu more than he loved himself. A phrase indicating this love for Enkidu is on page 35: "We must go down into the forest together

hamlet and utopia renaissance and reformation

712 words - 3 pages . Utopia gives the blueprint to achieve greatness when Thomas More quotes, “The way to heaven out of all places is of length and distance.” Even though the writings of Thomas More came well before Shakespeare, the creation of Hamlet also depicts the essence of the renaissance period as well. In the Play of Hamlet written by William Shakespeare, Hamlet is a character of the medieval ages, but has a renaissance mindset. Hamlet is engulfed in a

Closely Examines Shakespeare's Use of Classical Allusions to Violent Death in Hamlet

1710 words - 7 pages One of the most striking classical references in Hamlet is to the fall of Troy and the death of its king, Priam. Hamlet wishes the player to recite a speech he .".cheifly loved..." and recites the first thirteen lines for him. Within the first five lines of this speech the audience is bombarded with images of darkness, ."" . Hamlet describes .".Hellish Pyrrhus..." raging through

Heroism in Prometheus Bound and Paradise Lost

792 words - 3 pages Heroism in Prometheus Bound and Paradise Lost Heroism, the act of exhibiting noble or self-sacrificing conduct, and the appearance of heroism are two nearly indistinguishable manners. Their difference is the amount of depth contained, in definition. Heroism is an occupation. In determining if a character is heroic, the commentator must know the character’s intentions, manners, and desires. The appearance of heroism is a quality. To

Tragic Heroism in Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra

1719 words - 7 pages In the tragedy “Antony and Cleopatra”, Shakespeare presents our protagonist Mark Antony as a tragic hero. He does this by using a number of dramatically effective methods, including language, staging techniques and structure. Aristotle defines a tragic hero as a character of noble stature who has a tragic flaw (usually hubris which is over confidence/arrogance) and suffers a downfall that is partially their fault but also due to factors beyond

The Concepts of Heroism in The Odyssey

921 words - 4 pages The concept of heroism has been a topic of hot debate since the beginning of time itself. The disparities between the Greek concept of heroism and the modern concept of heroism are huge. In this century, a hero is the one in shining armor, willing to lay down his life for the safety of others. However, it will be preposterous to dismiss this definition, although it does not exactly exemplify the Greek concept of heroism. It is, in fact, one of

Nutrition and Fitness Paper SCI 100 Paradigms of Health

1139 words - 5 pages habit includes nothing more than the occasional golf or bowling outing, and it does not happen more than once every 2-3 months. My current nutritional habits are just as bad if not worse. Typically I only eat once or twice a day and normally they are very large portions of generally unhealthy foods. For example this past Thursday I managed to eat two medium pizzas from Pizza Hut in one sitting and on Saturday I ate two foot long sandwiches from

Heroism in The Grapes of Wrath

1162 words - 5 pages . They’s been mean Joads, but never that mean’” (Steinbeck 111). Her possession of this sense of community, which reached beyond the boundaries of kinship, surfaced numerous times throughout the novel, serving as testimonies to her heroism. As the novel progressed, Ma’s heroic qualities were enhanced. She prepared Grampa’s body and nursed Granma until her death. In protecting Granma, she kicked the Jehovite woman away from Granma and kicked the

The Challenges and Complexity of Heroism

1698 words - 7 pages to do those kinds of things. The firefighters should not be considered heroes because they were doing their job. Heroes make people in this world believe that there are still some good people out there. The heroes make the world a better place. To be a hero, you have to want to help when not expected to help and possibly die. Being benevolent is only one case of the many definitions there are for heroism. A complex hero is someone that shows no

Similar Essays

Impact Of Renaissance Humanism In Shakespears Hamlet

713 words - 3 pages printing and publication of classical and modern poetic, historic, rhetorical and philosophical texts. While William Shakespeare probably did not have the sort of extensive humanistic education afforded those of higher social and financial rank than his own family, his education was clearly grounded in the principles of Renaissance humanism. The decidedly humanistic ideals Shakespeare often represents in his plays—particularly within Hamlet—are

Raphael’s The School Of Athens: Classical Philosophers In A Renaissance Work

1232 words - 5 pages work. It represents the new mindset of the Renaissance so well because it shows philosophers debating science and religion openly, wearing classical clothing, and in a setting thought to be a part of the Roman Forum. All the figures in the fresco have their own unique face, and are doing something different. The School of Athens shows many both philosophers and average folk talking and debating about new ideas. The fresco shows 54 different people

Paradigms Of Knowing In Communication Research

949 words - 4 pages shows how people can view a topic and not always have the same results. Work Cited Baxter & Babbie. (2004). Four social science paradigms: An overview (pp. 47-67). In Basics of Communication Research. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth

Heroes And Heroism In Anita Desai's Clear Light Of Day

1340 words - 5 pages Heroes and Heroism in Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day       When one asks a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" a usual response is "a fireman" or "a ballerina."  In Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day, however, the young Bim and Raja are somewhat more ambitious; they answer that they want to be a hero and heroine.  Later, Bim asks somewhat bitterly, "The hero and heroine-where are they?  Down at the bottom of the well-gone