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Hamlet- Many Interpretations Essay, Research Paper
Hamlet: Many Interpretations
Although many students of Shakespeare believe that Hamlet,
among all the plays in the Shakespearean canon, best reflects the
universality of the poet-dramatist?s genius, it remains an enigmatical work,
what has been called a ?grand poetical puzzle.? no artist can control the
use to which his insights are put by posterity, and this dictum is especially
true of Shakespeare, whose Hamlet has caused more discussion than any
other character in fiction, dramatic or non-dramatic.
Many readers have been disturbed by the two Hamlet?s in the play:
one, the sensitive young intellectual and idealist, the ?sweet prince? who
expresses himself in unforgettable poetry; the other, a barbaric Hamlet who
treats Ophelia so cruelly, who slays Polonius and then speaks of lugging
the guts into another room.
Most interpreters of Hamlet start with the assumption that the tragic
hero has a clear and sacred obligation to kill Claudius and to do so without
delay. The question is then why does he wait so long to do so. It is argued
that if Hamlet had taken prompt action, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia,
Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes, and Hamlet himself may have
survived. A reason must then be drawn from one?s own interpretations of
Following two renound interpretations of Hamlet, two major
conclusions can be made. First, Shakespeare?s tragedy is a work of
surpassing interest and genius, and the tragic hero is universally attractive
and fascinating. Second, only the naive will start with the assumption that
there is one obvious interpretation of the play and that the critics, not
Shakespeare, have introduced complexities into it. It would be nice to
present a simple, direct interpretation based upon a major generalization
and to ignore passages in the play which do not fit into the argument. But
such a presentation would not do justice to a great play or help the reader.
Therefore, when appropriate, passages which seem to lend support to a given theory will
be called to the reader?s attention. But always one must ask himself whether or not the
entire play urges the acceptance of such a theory; ultimately, major themes emerge from
the entire plot, not from isolated episodes or passages. In conclusion, one must see
Hamlet throughout the entire play in order to get a true sense of what he stands for.
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