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Hamlet Essay

1164 words - 5 pages

With its core ideal, the contemplation of human existence, William Shakespeare's political and religious tragedy contrasts the rest of the playwright's repertoire. Exploiting the integration of theatre and meta-theatre, Hamlet shatters the barrier between the actors and audience to bring contextual struggles of 17th Century England to the surface. With existential echoes a pivotal focus of Hamlet, Shakespeare explores the character development of his eponym to highlight the unique role of women and the authenticity of his titular character's charade of madness. Influenced by Saxo Grammaticus' Scandinavian tale, Hamlet is based on the playwright's life. With its conception overlapping the death of Shakespeare's father in 1601, the foundation of the plays grieving son is born. However, its overarching theme is its ambiguity and defiance of a singular interpretation.Written in the early 1600s, Hamlet personifies a society characterised by turmoil and uncertainty. Manipulating the meta-theatrical concoction created in Hamlet, Shakespeare condenses real life tragedies and overcomes conventional theatre's fiction roots to highlight that life itself is a tragedy. Subverting theatrical conventions, Shakespeare humanizes the play through his constant references to acting and dramatic techniques, "I did enact Julius Caesar." Bridging the gap between the playwrights work, the reference to Julius Caesar dismantles the allusion of theatre whilst highlighting the similarities between he and the eponym. Both propelled into a position of power following the death of their father's, this foreshadows Hamlet's inevitable murder by betrayal. Exploring the power, danger and threshold of meta-theatre, the meta-theatrical veil of Hamlet is evident in Act I, "Seems madam? Nay it is." Foreshadowing the eponym's quest for clarity this meta-theatrical haze becomes a prominent point of ambiguity within the play. Integrating the presence of characters with features of himself, Shakespeare's titular character becomes symbolic of truth, "as 'twere, the mirror up to nature." Transforming the play from a representation of the world to a process of unearthing the social facades of Elizabethan England, Hamlet's distaste of decorum aims to expose the feigning of public life. Evident through his adaptation of The Murder of Gonzago, the visible juxtaposition of linear and non-linear theatre reiterates Hamlet's fictional foundation. Transforming the play from an accusatory parallel with Claudius to a threat, the exploitation of Pyrrhus as Hamlet's foil foreshadows the eponym's psychological torture. Utilizing the self-reflexivity of meta-theatre, the blurred distinction of appearance and reality is cemented through Hamlet's role as the chorus, "His name's Gonzago…you shall see anon how the murder gets the love of Gonzago's wife." Favouring the psychological effect the meta-theatrical play has on the audience over that of the characters, Shakespeare affirms the theme that life...

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