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

Custom Essays: Imagination Versus Realism In Hamlet

2331 words - 9 pages

Imagination versus Realism in Hamlet

      Is the Shakespearean tragic drama Hamlet basically an imaginative work or basically a realistic work? This essay seeks to answer this question and related questions, with the help of literary critics.


Harold Goddard’s essay, “Hamlet: His Own Falstaff,” highlights the battle between poetry and realism (history) in the play:


Hamlet, the conclusion is, is a failure because the materials Shakespeare inherited were too tough and intractable. Too tough and intractable for what? That they were too tough and intractable for a credible historical picture may be readily granted. But what of it? And since when was poetry supposed to defer to history? Two world wars in three decades ought to have taught us that our history has not gone deep enough. But poetry has. The greatest poetry has always depicted the world as a little citadel of nobility threatened by an immense barbarism, a flickering candle surrounded by infinite night. The “historical” impossibility of Hamlet is its poetical truth, and the paradox of its central figure is the universal psychology of man. (14)


Robert B. Heilman in “The Role We Give Shakespeare” indicates how the Bard’s rich imagination is the cause which gives the effect of universality of appreciation to his work:


Shakespeare has both feet on the ground; but in him the common ground is transfigured, revealed in a new dimension; nothing is too mean for him, but the mean itself is raised to a supernal plane. Shakespeare is the ultimate all-purpose book, with imaginative breadth and depth, for a humanity not limited by age or sex, immediately open to all who will read (a view not entirely shared by the caste of professional interpreters). (12)


The play opens on the ramparts of Elsinore castle – a very realistic setting. But very soon the imaginative element of a ghost, the likeness of dead King Hamlet, makes its appearance before Barnardo, Marcellus and Horatio. Mysteriously, it says nothing, prompting Horatio and Marcellus to leave in search of Hamlet, the prince and their friend, who might be able to interpret this spectral figure. Hamlet is meanwhile at a courtly gettogether with his stepfather Claudius, the king, his mother, Gertrude, the queen, the royal chamberlain’s family, and courtiers. Hamlet, deeply grieved over the quick marriage of his mother to his father’s brother, is more idealistic than others in the court. They more truly reflect a realistic presentation in that they could care less about such issues. The first soliloquy occurs when the hero is left alone after the royal social gathering in the room of state. It emphasizes the general corruption of society and the frailty of women – an obvious reference to his mother’s hasty and incestuous marriage to her husband’s brother – thus expressing a rather imaginatively idealistic outlook on the situation:


O, that this too too solid flesh would melt

     Thaw and...

Find Another Essay On Custom Essays: Imagination versus Realism in Hamlet

"This above all, to thine own self be true": Truth versus Self in Hamlet

1876 words - 8 pages Truth versus Self in Hamlet by William Shakespeare "This above all, to thine own self be true" (Act I scene 3 line 78) as expressed in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a philosophical idea that strips away moral standards, accountability, and that selflessness is evidence of true love, as taught by Jesus Christ. Professor Sir Walter Murdoch writes in The Policy of Polonius, "As a matter of fact, of course, the lines are

Free Essays - Fatal Flaws in Hamlet

621 words - 2 pages Fatal Flaws in Hamlet       In the ending to Shakespeare's Hamlet, each of the main characters fatal flaws leads them inevitably to their destruction.  The process of the play could not lead one anywhere else but to their ultimate fate.  Claudius is basically an opportunist whose blind ambition erases his moral sense.    Gertrude, through the eyes of Hamlet, is to eager to remarry her

Comparing Natural Law to Legal Realism in the case of Carlton versus Walkovsky

1034 words - 4 pages In the case of Carlton vs. Walkovzsky, I will discuss facts, main legal issues, majority decisions and reasons for the dissent. This case took place on September 26, 1966 in the court of Appeals of New York. Judge Fuld J wrote the majority decision, while Judge Keating wrote the dissenting decision in the case. I will be applying Natural Law and Legal Realism to the case to argue my position, and ultimately prove that the theory of Natural Law

The Supernatural in Hamlet

3202 words - 13 pages . He is in no mood now to deal with the empty, frivolous, meaningless little fairies. The form of the Supernatural, which he adopts at this stage, is the eerie, horrible, terrifying ghost [. . .]. (99)   Maynard Mack in “The World of Hamlet” elucidates the reader on how the Ghost introduces the problem of appearance versus reality:   The play begins with an appearance, an “apparition,” to use Marcellus’ term – the ghost. And the

Hamlet Essay a Great Work of Shakespeare

1783 words - 7 pages , Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole?" (5.1.199-201)This coherent thought while unwarranted shows both a softer and more philosophical sides to the young Hamlet and allow the reader to witness a sense of maturity and purpose in his words. Yet, contrary to this when confronted by the King, the Queen and Laertes, Hamlet acts foolishly to express his extreme passion for Ophelia

Hamlet – the Psychological Play

1644 words - 7 pages Custom Written Essays -  Hamlet – the Psychological Play     The psychological dimension of the Shakespearean drama Hamlet remains unquestioned by most literary critics. Let us in this essay explore various points of view of the subject.   Strangely, in his essay “O’erdoing Termagant” Howard Felperin states that the closet scene does NOT reveal in a noteworthy way the hero’s state of mind:   Despite

The Sane Hamlet

1231 words - 5 pages Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York City: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 1-10. Danson, Lawrence. "Tragic Alphabet." Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York City: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 65-86 Findlay, Alison. "Hamlet: A Document in Madness." New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. New York: AMS Press, 1994. 189-205. Kaston, David Scott. "'His semblance is his mirror

Hamlet- His Procrastination and Its Causes

2404 words - 10 pages believes that in all of us there is, '"'stored up within ourselves so many unrequited wrongs and injuries, forgotten and unforgotten... that we like nothing better than to rid ourselves of a little of the accumulation by projecting it... on the defenseless puppets of the dramatic imagination'"' ('"'Hamlet: His Own Falstaff'"' 13).Cedric Watts stresses perhaps the most important belief in the analysis of Hamlet: '"'there is no master-Hamlet to be

Shakespeare's Hamlet - The Importance of the Ghost

2858 words - 11 pages . Chute, Marchette. “The Story Told in Hamlet.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Excerpted from Stories from Shakespeare. N. p.: E. P. Dutton, 1956. Clemen, W.H.. “Imagery in Hamlet Reveals Character and Theme.” Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. Rev. ed. Ed. Leonard F. Dean. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Reprint from “Hamlet

Reality and Illusion in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Appearance and Reality

1323 words - 5 pages deceiving events. These spy plots demonstrate the appearance versus reality theme since they are invisible to the spied upon, but weave a web of dishonesty. In Act II, Scene 1, Polonius sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes. Polonius does not trust his own son. Later, Hamlet directs a play entitled "The Mouse Trap" in order to spy on the King, Claudius. He does this to know whether or not Claudius is guilty of his own brother's murder. Hamlet is by far the

Shakespeare's Hamlet - The Reality of Appearances

1321 words - 5 pages spy plots, the audience becomes aware of the beguiling nature of Hamlet's plot.               Shakespeare also used the characters in Hamlet to explore the theme of appearance versus reality. For example, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern appear to be Hamlet's friends but they are, in reality, spying on him for Claudius. As well, Hamlet is uncertain whether or not the ghost is what it appears to be (his father) or perhaps something else such

Similar Essays

Custom Written Essays: Rating Hamlet

2044 words - 8 pages venerable texts whose authenticity has impressed itself on the human imagination: he has said many things in what seems an ultimate form, and he is a fountainhead of quotation and universal center of allusion. “A rose by any other name” comes to the mouth as readily as “Pride goeth before a fall,” and seems no less wise. [. . .] The Ophelia-Laertes relationship is strongly felt near the end of Goethe’s Faust, Part I, and the Hamlet-Gertrude-Claudius

Custom Essays: Claudius The Beast In Shakespeare's Hamlet

2238 words - 9 pages Claudius the Beast in Hamlet       Philip Burton in “Hamlet” discusses Claudius’ sudden rise to the Danish throne upon the death of King Hamlet I in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet:   The fact that Claudius has become king is not really surprising. Only late in the play does Hamlet complain that his uncle had "popped in between the election and my hopes." The country had been in a nervous state expecting an invasion by young

Custom Written Essays: Contrasting Gertrude And Ophelia Of Shakespeare's Hamlet

2040 words - 8 pages : Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Boklund, Gunnar. “Hamlet.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets. London : George Bell and Sons, 1904. p. 342-368. O’Donnell, Jessie F. “Ophelia.” The American Shakespeare Magazine, 3 (March 1897), 70-76. Rpt. in

Custom Essays: Hamlet As An Accessory To Ophelia's Suicide

2178 words - 9 pages Hamlet as an Accessory to Ophelia's Suicide           William Shakespeare's character of Ophelia in Hamlet, suffers greatly, from the time she learns of her father Polonius' death, until her own mysterious death.  In Hamlet, Gertrude, Horatio and Claudius refer to her state, and conclude that she is crazy1[1].  Though there is some truth to their claim, Shakespeare created Ophelia as an overly- dramatic character, who is somewhat