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Do you agree with critics who argue that Hamlet's death and the appointment of Fortinbras as king are deeply unsatisfactory and bring no real restoration of order to the play?

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Introduction

Do you agree with critics who argue that Hamlet's death and the appointment of Fortinbras as king are deeply unsatisfactory and bring no real restoration of order to the play? At the end of Act Five, Shakespeare has re-established Hamlet as a traditional Elizabethan revenge tragedy through the bloody catharsis at the end of the play, the purpose of this being to cleanse Denmark of the corrupt and to restore order, although it is doubtful whether Hamlet's revenge achieves this aim. It is during Act Five that Hamlet regains his heroic status: "it is I, Hamlet the Dane" and his supposed madness diminishes. Hamlet once again embraces his Christian faith, realising that "there's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will", this theme would reflect the orthodox Christian beliefs of the audience. Hamlet now believes that God is in control, and that he can only slightly alter his destiny; perhaps Hamlet realises that it is destiny that Fortinbras should take the throne, although there is little else he could do to stop this. All Hamlet can do is give Fortinbras his "dying voice", which will perhaps stop civil war within Denmark. ...read more.

Middle

Issues such as suicide would interest the less blood-fixated members of the playhouse crowd, giving them something to debate about. When Hamlet does revenge, it results in a bloody massacre. Many critics feel that this is unnecessary, and argue that many of the characters should not have died. It can be argued that the bloody catharsis is necessary in ridding vice and restoring order in Denmark. It is certainly necessary to fulfil the audience's lust for the conventional tragedy of blood. It can be argued that Hamlet is not required to restore order, as the ghost asks him to "revenge this foul and most unnatural murder" and while he is doing this "taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven". However, in saying this, the ghost implicates the removal of the traitors from the throne and from the royal bed. Although he does argue with his mother, her death is not a direct result of him. The poisoned chalice that was meant for Hamlet was instead taken by Gertrude. Using Hamlets philosophy we could say that this is divine retribution, and therefore she has been left to heaven. ...read more.

Conclusion

Claudius is a man of words, like Hamlet and although he avoids a war with Norway, this is only for a short time, as at the end his words have been in vain as Fortinbras takes the throne. A patriotic audience would realise the implications of an invading power taking over, and would realise why Hamlet gave Fortinbras his "dying voice". In the Branagh version of Hamlet, Fortinbras has all the symbols of the previous regime destroyed, including a statue of king Hamlet, perhaps an ironic gesture showing the ultimate failure of Hamlet in carrying out his father's wishes. Shakespeare's conclusion to Hamlet is entirely satisfactory in restoring order to Denmark. Fortinbras seems to be a good leader of people, much like old Hamlet who was dearly loved by the Danish people. Hamlet's blessing on Fortinbras, "he has my dying voice", whether reluctant or not, will ease the way for Fortinbras' take over. It is likely that Fortinbras will encounter resistance, as he is a foreigner imposing power, an idea shown in the Branagh version of Hamlet. Denmark, previously described by Hamlet as "an unweeded garden that grows to seed things rank and gross in nature" has been cleansed by the destruction of those corrupt persons in the bloodshed of Act Five. It can therefore be said that Hamlet has been successful in restoring social and moral order to Denmark and to the universe. ...read more.

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