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

Why does Hamlet still matter?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Why does Hamlet still matter? Rebecca Glover ________________ The play Hamlet composed by William Shakespeare approximately 400 years ago, remains relevant to the contemporary world due to its philosophical contemplations of the human condition, and what it is to be human. Hamlet explores the transience of life, and the consequences madness has in regard to suicidal tendencies and whether it is best ?to be or not to be?. Further, Shakespeare integrates the concept of the revenge, tragedy, a factor Hamlet is renowned for; and the physical and psychological obstacles such a deceit one must conquer in their ultimate search for the truth, elements which remain pertinent to society today. Shakespeare?s exploration of the complexity of the human condition is explored through his main character Hamlet?s divided consciousness, and the perpetual calculations of how he sees himself, or how others perceived him to be; all of which are notions present in the adolescent members of society today. It is through the exploration of themes such as filial relationships, Hamlet?s self-perception in regards to his inaction of revenge, Shakespeare?s soliloquies and various literary and drama techniques which demonstrate this to the contemporary audience. Hamlet is contacted by his associates; Bernardo, Marcellus and Horatio who timidly enlighten the Prince of their encounter with a ghost who claims to be the revered King Hamlet. The presence of the ghost sets the play in motion as the well-known revenge tragedy society knows it as today, and establishes elements of the human condition which are still problematic in the modern world. ...read more.


The issue of suicide, regarding Hamlet?s genuine desire to desire, and the theory as to whether Ophelia committed suicide is relevant to modern society as suicide and mental illness are widely prevalent and in some cases incurable by safe means. The most well-known soliloquy by Shakespeare to date; ?to be or not to be? explores ?whether ?tis nobler in the mind to suffer?. The negative connotation of ?suffer? indicates Hamlet?s tolerant patience towards his thoughts, followed by a metaphor in the subsequent line ?The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?, to illustrate to the audience the nature of the difficulties which Hamlet faces, addressing the issues of his mother?s incestuous remarriage, and the intellectualisation of revenge. Shakespeare?s conscious use of this literary device is a hint to the malignant quality of ?fortune? which awaits Hamlet in the latter acts of the play. Further, ?slings and arrows? imply weapons which strike from a long-distance, which could indicate the undetected quality of Hamlet?s fortune?s foe. Metaphors, and extended metaphors in this soliloquy are used to portray Hamlet?s indecision of whether ?to die: to sleep;? is the appropriate action. The line ?to die: sleep;? is an extended metaphor establishing that sleep represents death, further used to describe Hamlet?s inaction by the comparison of Hamlet to sleep (also known as a state of physical inaction, rest, or being oblivious). The way Shakespeare portrays Hamlet?s nature and motivations behind his desire to commit suicide are alive and applicable to society through the fact that suicide, and the world?s desperate attempts to solve it, is still evident. ...read more.


In Hamlet?s mind the only way to prove the ghost as truthful in his accusations of poison administered to King Hamlet?s ear, is to ?catch the conscience of the King? through Shakespeare?s skilful utilisation of a play within a play, or as Hamlet titles it ?The Mouse Trap?. With Hamlet?s inaction, Shakespeare uses the juxtaposition of avengers; Hamlet against Fortinbras and Laertes, to highlight Hamlet?s inaction, and calculating thoughts towards revenge. Hamlet too compares himself against his fellow avengers, stating ?Yet I, A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause?. This filial duty the three men undertake highlights Hamlet as being morally aware of the atmosphere around him, adopting an ?antic disposition?, while Laertes is rash and rampant in his revenge, and Young Fortinbras is illustrated as cowardly through Claudius? line ?he hath not failed to pester us with a message?, portraying Laertes as a childish, ignorant man. Additionally, the character foils of Hamlet, Laertes and Young Fortinbras was introduced by Shakespeare to portray three sons having a similar story; three young men associated with royal courts, losing their fathers in violent ways, yet they react differently. Hence, the play Hamlet composed by William Shakespeare through the main characters philosophical contemplations of the human condition, explores the concept of the transience of life, the consequences of madness and suicide and themes of revenge to portray Hamlet as a timeless text which remains pertinent to the contemporary world. ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

A very well written piece showing full control of the material and an in depth understanding of the key points from the play. Some very insightful analysis which, at times. would benefit from further textual support.
An interesting title and scope for more developed connections and explanations as to why the play would still be relevant with modern day critics and audiences.

5 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 03/05/2013

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 "loving mother-son" relationship between Gertrude and Hamlet, with focus on language.

    4 star(s)

    All the same one thing is very clear and that is Gertrude has certainly not been involved in Claudius' plot of murder, for if she were she would be the play's villainess and not its child-like victim. Claudius would believe her to be an accomplice and confide in her, but he does not.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Explore how Shakespeare examines the theme of revenge in Hamlet.

    3 star(s)

    Hamlets morals are challenged. Elizabethans generally firmly believed in the concepts of 'heaven' and 'hell', dying without forgiveness from God would mean eternity in perdition like the limbo in which Old Hamlet is in, in Hamlet 'When I to my sulph'rous and tormented flames Must render up myself'.

  1. Compare and contrast the approaches of Hamlet and Laertes to revenge

    Hamlet at this stage is no longer self-agonising. Another main factor that contributes to the difference between the two men, is their judgement of Claudius the King of Denmark. Hamlet loathes Claudius is very wary of him even before he learns of his father's murder.

  2. Hamlet's Tragic Flaw leading to his Demise

    Since missing his 'perfect opportunity', and feeling very passionate about killing Claudius he makes a fatal mistake of killing Polonius instead. His actions will now become the object of another revenge plot. Ophelia, Polonius' daughter, is mad with grief. Her father is dead, murdered by the man she loves.

  1. Critical review of 'Hamlet'

    A normal grieving son would still be sore from the loss of his father and accept Horatio's reason rather than doubting it. It is such evidence that I would argue Hamlet is not avenging his father's death because, as will be examined, he has opportunity to do so but does not.

  2. Compare and Contrast theCharacters Hamlet and Laertes.

    After Ophelia's death he jumps in her grave, showing that he can be spontaneous. This indicates that Hamlet's impulsive actions could be more true to his character than we thought, leaving the audience to question whether he may be spontaneous with Claudius's death.

  1. How does Shakespeare present Ophelia and the men in her life, in "Hamlet"?

    and they all have little regard for her genuine love for Hamlet. Her heart begins to dictate over her head and as a result of being caught in the crossfire of all the men in her life; Ophelia goes crazy, unable to cope with the stress and contradiction.

  2. Directors Kenneth Branagh and Franco Zeffirelli have both released fantastic productions of William Shakespeare's ...

    On the whole, it can be concluded that Branagh better understood the power of the play which is evident by his superb direction. Furthermore, in Branagh's version, the magnificent set designs are symbolic indications of disloyalty, revenge and death. The hall of mirrors in the royal palaces emphasizes the tensions between the worlds of illusion and reality.

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