Hamlet as So Much More Than a Traditional Revenge Tragedy Essay

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Hamlet as So Much More Than a Traditional Revenge Tragedy

Although Shakespeare wrote Hamlet closely following the conventions of a traditional revenge tragedy, he goes far beyond this form in his development of Hamlet's character. Shakespeare's exploration of Hamlet's complex thoughts and emotions is perhaps more the focus of the play rather than that of revenge, thus in Hamlet Shakespeare greatly develops and enhances the form of the traditional revenge tragedy.

The main source of Hamlet is Saxo Grammaticus' Historiae Danicae, a folk tale that has a similar plot to Hamlet; however, Shakespeare greatly transforms this story of revenge when creating Hamlet. Shakespeare also draws upon
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The revenge ghost is a convention Kyd took from Seneca's tragedies, and in fact, Don Andrea has similar parallels to the ghost of Achilles in Seneca's play Troades.

The first appearance of the old king's ghost in the opening scene of Hamlet would have been suggestive of a revenge tragedy to an Elizabethan audience. However, the ghost does not demand revenge as Don Andrea does, but rather adds to the uncertainty and sense of foreboding in the scene. The play begins in a 'bitter cold' night, bringing a sense of pathetic fallacy to the scene, as the setting adds to the sense of trouble in Denmark, as described by Horatio and Marcellus. It is not until Act I, Scene V that the ghost appears to Hamlet, demanding 'revenge [for] his foul and most unnatural murder,' and thus introducing the theme of revenge in Hamlet. Although Hamlet proclaims that '[he will] sweep to [his] revenge,' he does not take his revenge until the final scene of the play. Hamlet's inaction and delay of his revenge is paralleled in The Spanish Tragedy, however the reasons for delay in Hamlet are somewhat different.

In The Spanish Tragedy, immediately after Hieronimo discovers his son's body he claims that it is only 'in revenge [his] heart would find relief,' and
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