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Shakespeare Essay

1416 words - 6 pages

The Question is Not “To Be or Not To Be” but “How to be”

William Shakespeare, rightly called England’s national poet is considered as the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. His works include thirty eight plays, one fifty four sonnets and two narrative poems. Though the authorship of the works are frequently put under question, the genius implicit in them is undeniable. His plays are widely translated and read vividly. He could be called as the pioneer of the distinct class called the ‘English Drama’. He formulated a form of drama different from the traditional Greek convention which is now termed as the ‘Shakespearean Drama’. He was a rapid innovator and redefined the ...view middle of the document...

The play was popular during his lifetime much like how it is deemed today. The effect of tragedy is heightened because the hero- Prince Hamlet is the definition of Aristotle’s ideal tragic hero and also because the tragedy arises with the betrayal of one family member to the other. Hamlet represents the tragedy of a young man who is tormented by his father’s soul. Claudius, the ambitious brother of the late King Hamlet, killed the King and married his sister-in-law Gertrude. Meanwhile, Hamlet is visited by his father’s soul which explains the cause of his death- Claudius poured the “juice of cursed hebenon” in his ear. The soul also demands Hamlet that he will avenge the death of his father by killing Claudius. The wise Prince decides to test the truth in the words of the soul, so he arranges a play at the court which will be a re-enactment of the murder of his father. He decides to discover the truth by studying the reaction of Claudius. Claudius, as he watches the play is intensified and leaves the room, by which Hamlet confirms his guilt. He follows him to kill him, but after discovering him in his prayer, resolves that he should kill him later as he thinks that killing the man in his prayers will send him to the Heaven while his father’s soul suffers in the purgatory. Later, Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius in his mother’s room, the only crime he actually commits. Claudius tries to banish Hamlet out of the kingdom, but when he fails, he arranges a sword fight between Hamlet and Laertus with poisoned blades. Adding to it, he also arranges for a poisoned glass of wine for Hamlet if he escapes the blade. Although Hamlet gets wounded by the poisoned blade, he manages to kill Claudius while Gertrude dies by drinking the poisoned wine. Hamlet explains the history of the events to Fortinbras and dies. Hamlet is then given a funeral befitting a fallen soldier, the honour of which is denied to the sinful Claudius.
“To be or not to be” is one of the popular phrases adapted from literature. It is the opening line of the soliloquy delivered by Hamlet in the “Nunnery Scene” (Act III, Scene i). In the soliloquy, the young Prince contemplates suicide or death as an option over living. This is because, he finds it confusing and frustrated to live in an “unweeded world”. Adding to it, he was lately being tormented by his father’s soul which asks of him the blood of Claudius. Though “indecisiveness” is considered as the folly of the protagonist- Hamlet, it is to be considered that it arises out of him being virtuous and morale. He decides to test the truth in the lines spoken by his father’s soul rather act along with it; he refrains from killing a man in prayer, and maybe, he would have been “indecisive” till later if Claudius hadn’t arranged for a fatal sword fight. The only place where he slips from his virtue is when he kills Polonius though it is well deserved. But he pays for the blood on his hands by his own...

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