Critical Analysis of Hamlet: Character Analysis and the Themes of Revenge and Manipulation

1851 Words Oct 3rd, 2010 8 Pages
The play Hamlet is a text that despite its age and Elizabethan linguistic style is still resoundingly relevant to today’s modern audience due to its ability to move past time related contextual barriers and capture the universality of the human condition with its infinite confusion as evident in the character of Prince Hamlet, its ability to influence and manipulate as well as its reaction to such manipulation, revenge.

The character of Hamlet himself is very relatable today especially to young students, the reason that the play still thrives today is due to the universal relevance that his conflicting emotions hold for us. Hamlet being a university student of Wittenberg; intelligently tries like men today to justify his life, as can
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Due to the Elizabethan use of complex language to portray this play and the need for a deep understanding of Hamlet to gain a greater understanding of the text, the play lacks a level of textual integrity that has only heightened the views on vengeance portrayed in Hamlet. This is due to each society’s context being projected onto the play. Evidence of these can be seen when juxtaposing the Elizabethan views of Hamlet as purely a Hero against our modern views influenced by psychology where he is viewed as confused, even irrational, “he is full of purpose but void of that quality of mind which accompanies purpose” (Coleridge) or even earlier against the 20th century Freudian views of an Oedipus complex fuelled revenge plot. All of these differing views on the one play show the universality of vengeance, and Hamlet’s continued relevance to today’s audiences. Prince Hamlet has been portrayed by critics such as Goethe as “unfit” for revenge, this is not the case, as previously demonstrated in an analysis of Hamlets character, it is his intelligence that undercuts his quest for vengeance, which adds to the tension that Shakespeare creates and elaborates on in each soliloquy. Events in the play such as in Act iii Scene iii that prevent Hamlet from killing Claudius which while viewed as merely tension building today ,have a powerful effect on the responder when viewed through the
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