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Why is 'Hamlet' seen as such a unique play even though it is part of the English revenge tradition in drama?

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Introduction

Hamlet Why is 'Hamlet' seen as such a unique play even though it is part of the English revenge tradition in drama? (Literary Tradition) Hamlet is arguably one of the greatest plays of all time and it is said that Hamlet is performed around the world every 5-10 minutes. Initially, Hamlet comes across as a typical revenge play of the Elizabethan times but when looked at in more detail Hamlet is a unique play even though it was part of the English tradition in drama. The Elizabethan audience understood the conventions of revenge tragedy at least as well as we today grasp the complicated rules of spy fiction. Once Hamlet raised the suspicion that he knew that Claudius is a murderer he is in danger of not only being killed by the tyrant but of being damned himself, 'Burned by God in hell!' Hamlet decides not to kill Claudius (Act 3 Scene 3) and by failing to kill Claudius, Hamlet comes off the revenge treadmill and becomes hunted rather than the hunter. Hamlet is seen as a revenge play but it has more than revenge, there are themes and messages running through it all. Hamlet and his fathers' relationship is very important in the play. His brother Claudius; who was having an affair with the Queen; killed King Hamlet when the King was asleep by putting rat poison in his ear. ...read more.

Middle

Claudius is not completely convinced that this is the cause for Hamlets madness and decides to put Ophelia in the hall where Hamlet is known to spend time pacing around for hours a day while the King and Polonius hide behind a tapestry watching what goes on. An important factor of this play is that Hamlet ultimately confuses reality with pretence as he pretends to be mad in Act 2 Scene 2 and fails to recognise Polonius and mocks him cleverly, for example, asking if he was a 'fishmonger' which translates to a pimp, and if he has a daughter and that she should keep out of the sun. Hamlet: "Have you a daughter?" Polonius: "I have, my Lord." Hamlet: "Let her not walk I'th' sun. Conception is a blessing but as your daughter may conceive-friend, look." As the play goes on Hamlet's madness turns from acting out to reality because of all his emotions, from the death of his father, his love for Ophelia and his revenge on the King, who murdered his father. There is a theme, which runs through the play in that every tragic character must have a weakness. In this play the tragic character is Hamlet, who has two weaknesses that are madness and he cares a lot for his family. Both these weaknesses turn him into a 'tragic' character as these weaknesses drive him to death. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Elizabethan audience would have supported Hamlet in his choice to be sure before killing King Claudius, his father's murderer. This shows how Shakespeare uses the audience's uncertainty to influence their response to the play, and it was very effective. In conclusion, Hamlet contributed greatly to the English Revenge Tradition in drama but it was unique in its own way and this was due to Shakespeare's ingenuity. It was unique as Hamlet delayed his revenge on Claudius and it had a fusion of death, suicide and bloody murder, and many other things that made it unique. The murder of Old Hamlet appeared to be cold blooded as Claudius showed no mercy as he coldly planned Hamlets death and then that of his son young Hamlet. However, when Hamlet murdered Claudius it was a revenge that most people and I agree he rightly deserved. Then there was Ophelia's suicide, which was as a result of her madness. So in all Hamlet was a very unique play and it was very well written as you felt sorry for Hamlet when he died as he had gone through so much, from his madness to the death of his loved ones. Even though he had committed bloody sins you still felt sympathy for Hamlet, but in the end he had one enemy too many. Hamlet was a great play and will continue to be performed all over the world and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. ...read more.

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