The Reactions of a Contemporary and Modern Audience to the Honourable Actions of Hamlet
The play of Hamlet includes a theme about honour, but what exactly
does honour mean? The contemporary audience of the play would have
seen honour as being duty to your family, and your principles. A
modern audience would understand honour as being about respect,
selflessness, beliefs, self-awareness, and bravery. Here you can see
that the modern understanding of honour is much different to how
people would have understood honour back when the play was written.
The play is set back in the times when monarchs ruled. This is also
important to remember when considering the reactions of a modern and
contemporary audience to the honourable actions of Hamlet.
Hamlet idolized his father. His father, King Hamlet, was a very noble
man. The contemporary audience saw a king as being God on Earth.
They believed that God picked who was to be king, and that because of
this, they must worship, and obey his beliefs and orders. King Hamlet
was seen as being a very respectable king, and a very good ruler.
However, today, the idea of a king is again, very different. Kingship
to a modern audience means someone who sets a good example. We don
not respect monarchs how the contemporary audience did. We rule by
government, and not just one individual person who makes all the
decisions. Our government is a democracy, and we can vote for the
leader we want. Back then, it was believed that it was God’s job to
Hamlet, and Fortinbras are both very similar people. For example,
they both inherited their fathers names, and in both cases, the throne
was passed on to their uncles, instead of them. Fortinbras was very
warlike, as was his father, and was seen as very honourable. He
wanted to reclaim land from Poland, and to do this, he needed to make
a pathway through Denmark, the homeland of Hamlet. Both modern, and
contemporary audiences can understand his reasons, and see Fortinbras
as being very honourable.
Hamlet was a very intelligent man. Because of this, just killing
Claudius, his uncle, was almost too simple. He took many things into
account, and studied many possibilities. He felt that he had to have
sufficient evidence that his uncle really was to blame for the death
of his father. Although his fathers ghost told Hamlet that he was,
Hamlet did not believe the ghost at first, and felt that he had to see