Shakespeare - Hamlet example

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Shakespeare – Hamlet

A writer is always a product of the epoch in which he or she has been born and brought up and during which his or her literary genius develops. A writer’s works always reflect his or her epoch and contain the manifestations of those historical events, which create the fabric of his or her time. Accordingly, the plot of the play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare written around 1600 was affected by historical events and material objects in Shakespeare’s time. One of my favourite Shakespeare’s plays is Hamlet with David Tennant as Hamlet and directed by Gregory Doran in 2009. The play brilliantly displays the tragedy of betrayal, revenge and death in the Danish court and skilfully transfers the themes and conflicts of Shakespeare’s time to the audience. The purpose of the paper is to analyse what historical events and material objects of Shakespeare’s time affected the plot of the play and motivated the character’s actions.

Inspiration from Earlier Literary Works

In Shakespeare’s time, it was popular to search for creativeness in myths and earlier literary works. According to James and Maraden, the play Hamlet was inspired by a play called “Ur-Hamlet”, which, supposedly, had been written by Thomas Kyd who, in turn, had composed it based on Belleforest’s tale developed from a 9th-century pre-Viking story about Amleth, a prince who pretended to be insane (3). Hamlet is a typical revenge story with a meditative hero, ghosts, violence, gloomy atmosphere and madness. However, such characteristics of a revenge saga can be detected in 1st-century Roman literature, particularly in Seneca’s plays (James and Maraden 3). Apart from the aforesaid aspects of Hamlet, which make it similar to the works of pre-Shakespeare authors, Shakespeare’s play does not contain similarities to the real historical events in the author’s time. On the other hand, events that took place in Shakespeare’s time significantly influenced the plot and the characters of the play Hamlet.

The Separation from the Catholic Church and the Establishment of the Anglican Church

Hamlet was created in the Elizabethan era, the period of religious reforms and conflicts, which is reflected in the events of the play. Based on the religious aspects of the play, it is possible to assume that Shakespeare was, probably, a Catholic who mourned the destruction of the traditional religious moralities after England had separated from the Roman Catholic Church and established its own Anglican Church and the author
pointed at those controversies that resulted from such a religious reform in Elizabethan England (Barron). Thus, Hamlet contains the proof of the author’s religious beliefs and opinions on the religious reform in the kingdom during the Elizabethan era.

In their book, Wesley and Edwards explicate that the play Hamlet considers the existence of …

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