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Consider the reactions of a contemporary and modern audience to the honourable actions of Hamlet

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Consider 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. ...read more.


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 for himself. He felt like this, because he was aware that if he killed Claudius under false circumstances, he would be sent to purgatory, and did not like the idea of that at all. Both modern and contemporary audiences see this as very honourable. The old king Hamlet was in purgatory, and told Hamlet how it was really not a nice place to be. ...read more.


He was trying to do the right thing. However, during the play, Hamlet does some rather dishonourable things. For example, he treated Ophelia in a very bad way. This was cruel, and lead to Ophelia going insane, and committing suicide. He also killed Polonius when he was arguing with his mother, for no reason, other than he though that it was Claudius. Hamlet did seek forgiveness for these actions from Laertes, which is a very honourable action. To conclude, the contemporary audience would have been very aware why Hamlet acted like he did, and took the actions he did. They would have seen that Hamlet was trying to go about the matter in the right, and honourable way. They would have been able to recognise the dilemmas, both moral, and religious, such as Hamlet going to purgatory, and Claudius going to heaven, that Hamlet was experiencing. A modern audience would not necessarily understand all of this, but would however understand his character, so it is very important to be aware of the historical context behind the play of Hamlet. Sam Coley 11H ...read more.

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