Essay on Hamlet and Renaissance Period Hamlet

Submitted By katelynnn12
Words: 1487
Pages: 6

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet offers an exploration of human conflicts that leads to a seemingly impenetrable ambiguity for both the characters and the audience. In highlighting these tensions, Hamlet gives enduring insights into the human condition, allowing this play to transcend its time and remain pertinent to contemporary audiences. Notably, the play explores the conflict between an individual and their society resulting from awareness by the individual of the corruption of their state. Secondly, Shakespeare seeks to depict tensions of the sixteenth century surrounding the uncertainty of life and death, from both conventional and humanist views. Further, Hamlet explores the moral ambiguity of revenge which leads to conflict between action and inaction through Shakespeare’s integration of medieval and Renaissance beliefs. Although writing for a specific context, the universal nature of the conflicts that Shakespeare explores allows Hamlet to continually engage audiences. Through the theatrical form, Shakespeare’s use of clever dramatic techniques allows for textual integrity which supports the pertinence of Hamlet no matter the time or place of the viewer.
When corruption presents itself, it can lead to the isolation of an individual who recognises and condemns it. Corruption can be seen as an inherit trait of human nature connecting modern day audiences to the drama in Hamlet. Shakespeare personifies the corruption of the state of Denmark primarily through the court of Claudius. In Hamlet’s first line of “a little more than kin, a little less than kind” the pun is used to highlight Hamlet’s awareness of deceptive appearances within the court. Further, Hamlet rails against the superficial merriment of the court likening it to an “unweeded garden that grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature” isolating him from society despite his clearly identified place in the court of Denmark. Terry Eagleton suggests “Hamlet is a radically transitional figure, strung out between a traditional social order to which he is marginal and a future epoch of achieved individualism.” Through Hamlet’s suspicion of Claudius, Shakespeare leads the audience to question the honest façade of Denmark against its corrupt reality. This is further emphasised when Marcellus states “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” This recognition from even minor characters highlights the corruption of the state. Moreover, Hamlet’s pessimistic view of the world is emphasised through the betrayal of the characters he associates with including Gertrude, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Polonius. This suggests to the audience that not only is Denmark corrupt but the whole world is susceptible to corruption. Therefore, Hamlet concludes that corruption is an intrinsic part of the human condition and heightens his dissolution. It is this universality that allows Hamlet to transcend its sixteenth century context and has made it relevant throughout the centuries. Further, Hamlet’s isolation is evident through his wearing of an “inky cloak” which is a metaphor for both his physical and mental isolation and also his “shapes of grief”, which trap him in the “prison” of Denmark. Such techniques reflect Shakespeare’s use of the conventions of a revenge tragedy, inspired by the works of Seneca, the first century A.D Roman dramatist, who emphasised that “the revenger must place himself outside the normal moral order and become isolated” so that he is able to be a “scourge and minister” to cleanse his community which he, as a revenger feels is his duty. The conflict between a corrupt state and those opposing it is universal and through its exploration it is evident that Hamlet continues to pertain to audiences no matter their time or place.
Hamlet struggles to understand the nature of existence and in particular the uncertainty of death that plagues his world. Shakespeare uses this inner conflict to highlight Elizabethan tensions surrounding existence in…