• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore Shakespeare's dramatic manipulation of the revenge tragedy genre, considering how his presentation of avengers might be perceived by different audiences.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Michael Archer 12F2 English Literature Coursework Hamlet "Rightly to be great Is not to stir without great argument, But greatly to find quarrel in a straw When honour's at the stake." Explore Shakespeare's dramatic manipulation of the revenge tragedy genre, considering how his presentation of avengers might be perceived by different audiences. Contemporary as well as modern audiences view Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', as a Revenge Tragedy. However Shakespeare has manipulated the genre to present a more complicated, more captivating play. Largely influenced by Roman playwrights, such as Seneca, the conventional Revenge Tragedy of Elizabethan times "served up a rich diet of madness, melancholy and revenge." 'Hamlet' contains many elements of traditional Elizabethan Revenge Tragedies, yet the main differences lie in the number of parallel revenge plots, and in the presentation of the character of the main avenger, Hamlet. Hamlet's character is interesting to an audience because of the way he goes about his revenge. Compared to Laertes and Fortinbras he is very hesitant, a thinker, not a warrior. His delay is mainly due to his perception of the ghost, whether it is really his father's spirit or an evil apparition. The important thing that Shakespeare is trying to portray is that Hamlet seeks certainty before he can take action. ...read more.

Middle

The same obsession with keeping his family's reputation can be seen when Laertes questions the unceremonious burial of Ophelia, "I tell thee, churlish priest \ A ministering angel shall my sister be \ When thou liest howling." This leads the audience to wonder whether his unmeasured grief has less to do with the loss of his sister and more to do with the perceived attack on his family's reputation. Hamlet confronts the ghost in Act I scene v and discovers the truth behind his father's death. This scene is significant because we can contrast Hamlet's reaction to finding out his father was murdered and compare it with Laertes' reaction to his father's murder. When the ghost tells Hamlet of the "unnatural murder" Hamlet's reaction to this development is, "Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift \ As meditation or the thoughts of love, \ May sweep to my revenge." This response is very similar to Laertes' in that it is both aggressive and it mentions the speed with which he will enact his revenge. However it is incredibly ironic of Hamlet to say this as his delay in taking revenge is far longer then first foretold. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hamlet is a character that seeks certainty, in that he wants to know the true identity of the ghost, and whether Claudius deserves to be killed for his crime. In fact, in the end, a contemporary as well as Elizabethan audience would be left contemplating whether or not Hamlet is thinking about his father when he kills Claudius. Some critics argue that Hamlet is more enraged by the emergence of the plot to kill him by Claudius, and the death of his mother, caused by the same man, "Thy mother's poisoned. \ I can no more. The King, the King's to blame." Others believe that Hamlet's reaction to Laertes' revelation shows that Hamlet never really becomes a contriving avenger. He kills the King, as he had killed Polonius, on the spur of the moment, "Then, venom, to thy work." Francis Bacon, one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, suggested that revenge is "a kind of wild justice". Certainly the dramatic and brutal deaths at the end of the play leave the audience, both contemporary and Elizabethan, philosophising and perhaps questioning their own actions and beliefs about the importance of family loyalty and reputation, and whether, in fact, revenge can ever be justified. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the presentation of revenge in 'Hamlet'.

    4 star(s)

    The other revengers in the play do not have this wariness, they act immediately without considering the spiritual consequences and it is unclear whether Hamlet would have had a similar attitude had he not been inadvertently alerted to this danger by old Hamlet's ghost.

  2. Compare and Contrast theCharacters Hamlet and Laertes.

    Both men loved and respected their fathers, and display deviousness when plotting to avenge their father's deaths. Hamlet's response to grief is a trait starkly contrasted by Laertes. Laertes response to the death of his father is immediate anger. He is publicly angry, and he leads the public riot, which Polonius' death and quick burial served as a catalyst.

  1. Discuss Hamlet's attitude to death and the afterlife, giving indications to how both contemporary ...

    This shows Hamlets view on life and death. He is saying that he thinks that most people would kill themselves if they were not so scared of the afterlife. Of all Hamlet's reasons for not killing himself, I find this one to be the most credible as I think even

  2. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    Hamlet says, "[Treat them] better. Use every man after his desert [i.e., deserving], and who shall [e]scape whipping?" Hamlet gets an idea. He asks for a performance of "The Murder of Gonzago", with a short speech by Hamlet himself added. (Don't try to figure out what happened to this speech.)

  1. Examine how Shakespeare explores the role of women in Hamlet. What might the response ...

    However, by marrying his hated uncle, Claudius, Gertrude is a major source of confusion for her son and some argue she is a factor of his madness. Hamlet questions if Gertrude is guilty of adultery as well as incest, as Rebecca Smith5 mentions.

  2. Comparing the revengers Fortinbras, Laertes and Hamlet.

    Unlike Hamlet, much like Fortinbras, Laertes is a man of action; he has no scruples and needs no corroborative evidence to support his courses of action. On his return to Denmark he is quickly standing before the King, accusing him of the death of Polonius.

  1. Hamlet is considered to be the greatest play ever written. The themes of the ...

    "You should have believed me, for virtue cannot so Inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it. I loved You not" (Act 3, Scene 1) Later, at Ophelia's funeral the prince jumps into the grave with Laertes. "I loved Ophelia, forty thousand brothers Could not with all their quantity of love Make up my sum."

  2. To what extent is 'Hamlet' a revenge tragedy? In what ways does it help ...

    Claudius committed a great sin by pouring poison into his brother's ear for the sake of a crown, which is not his, and a kingdom full of people who do not support him. To gain their trust he continues to pour the poison of lying words into all his followers' ears.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work