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Is Act 5 a fitting end to the play Hamlet?

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Introduction

Is Act 5 a fitting end to the play Hamlet? Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's later plays, written in the early 17th Century. However, it is set in a 13th Century Danish Court with Hamlet, the eponymous hero, as Prince. The play Hamlet falls into the literary genre of a tragedy. Traditionally, the tale of a tragedy begins with a hero (in this case Hamlet) who, due to unfortunate circumstances, proceeds upon his/her downfall through the play and is usually slain during the closing stages. Shakespeare follows this pattern meticulously, although more specifically than tragedy, he chooses to pursue the style of Senecan Tragedy. The Senecan Tragedy originated from the Roman philosopher and poet, Seneca, who lived in the first century AD. A Senecan Tragedy contains several distinct factors, such as violence and the use of the supernatural. Shakespeare includes these elements in his play to give Hamlet some kind of familiar, sustained theme for his audience. The most prominent Senecan aspect included, is the structure of vengeance. Both Shakespeare and Seneca's plays are divided into five acts. Each act contains its own distinct theme. The first act introduces the appeal for vengeance-more specifically the ghost of Hamlet's father. ...read more.

Middle

Act 5 is the infamous climax of Hamlet. In the first scene, Hamlet begins conversing with a sexton in the graveyard. The graveyard is used because firstly, it helps give a powerful motif of mortality, which contributes to the tension within the audience, and secondly because this specific location is a prevailing indication of mortality. This motif is furthermore enforced by Shakespeare's selective use of language, which is crucial to portray emotions that are beginning to emerge as the play Hamlet moves towards its climax. The quotation: "Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now..." (v-i-95) is a good example of this. As the scene develops, the audience discovers that the gravedigger does not realise who Hamlet is and therefore talks to him about Hamlet. This incident is a display of dramatic irony; one example of the Elizabethan humour employed by Shakespeare in Act 5. Equivocation and wordplay, also between the gravedigger and Hamlet, is another style, and there are others. Humour is used in the play Hamlet to create dramatic texture. It lightens the atmosphere of the play and the minds of the audience, therefore providing a starker contrast with the bitterness soon to follow. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is the third and major tension that is resolved. Finally, to conclude the play, Hamlet dies. Revenge has been completed: "Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince/And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!" I believe that Act 5 is most certainly a fitting end to the play, Hamlet. The act (in particular the last scene) is both exciting and resolving. The vast amounts of tension and/or suspense that commence from the beginning of the play and persist until the end keep the audience interested and alert throughout. Shakespeare's culmination of events along with the denouement in Act 5 manages to resolve the many antagonisms and tensions created between the main characters earlier in the play through the duel scene. Additionally, he ends Hamlet with the arrival of a new monarch, Prince Fortinbras, which restores the harmony within the state of Denmark. This restoration leaves the audience with a feeling of completion, as a worthy end to a play should. Finally, Act 5 is a fitting end to the play because of the bloodthirsty conclusion that helps to fulfil the aspects of Senecan Drama, along with the structure of revenge through the quintet of acts. So, in conclusion, I believe that Shakespeare has designed a very fitting end to his revenge tragedy, Hamlet. ...read more.

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