Comparing The Characters Of Faustus And Hamlet

2158 words - 9 pages

Both Hamlet and Faustus contain a clash of themes and traditions, all catalysed by Religion. This is used to establish a theme of deception, which greatly impacts the protagonist’s procrastination. Procrastination is considered to be Hamlet’s tragic flaw, however Faustus’s flaw is considered to be his hubris.
Hamlet is in fact a play adapted by Shakespeare, not by name. But there are several scriptures that can be identified to being similar to the plot. One is called Saga of Hrolf Kraki. Believed to be Scandinavian. The second is the Roman legend of Brutus. In Shakespeare’s version Hamlet is the prince of Denmark heir to the throne, whose life takes a turn for the worst after his father’s death. This version of Hamlet is the most complex version ever written, because the idea of revenge and bloody deaths was a traditional convention of tragedy plays of the era.
Faustus is a well-educated man who learnt about Logic, Medicine, Law and religion, however Faustus turns to magic to gain knowledge about the world, using it to substitute his faith in Christianity. Hamlet and Faustus can both be considered as a “typical” renaissance man, a man who could know everything about anything because knowledge was limited, however Hamlet is more of a renaissance play while Faustus is focused as a morality play, where actors come on stage dressed as sins.
Hamlet is not a play based on religion but it illustrates religious beliefs of the 16th century, and religion is used as a catalyst to provoke Hamlet’s procrastination creating internal conflict from within raising questions about society and the new King of Denmark. The play is set in Denmark, a protestant nation but this might not greatly influence the plot since it is set at a time period before the protestant reformation. But both Faustus and Hamlet attended the University of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther wrote the Ninety-five theses in 1527(considered to be the catalyst of the protestant reformation). Therefore we can assume that Faustus is a protestant, but it can be argued that Marlowe could have possibly made this protestant connection in his defence to cease all accusations about him being a practicing catholic. Hence, the scene where Faustus appears to be mocking the pope.
“The pay is built upon Hamlet’s hesitation over fulfilling the task of revenge that is assigned to him: but its text offers no reason or motives for these hesitations”
(Sigmund Freud)
This comment gives us an insight that Hamlet’s tragic flaw is in fact his procrastination to killing Claudius. Although the literal text does not offer a valid reason for his procrastination, the sub-text imposes a compelling argument.
“I am thy father’s spirit, Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night, and for the day confined to fast in fires, till the foul crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purged away”
(1.5.9)
The ghost appears before Hamlet and claims to be the spirit of his father; he also mentions that he is in...

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