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A Universal Protagonist in William Shakespeare’s Tragedy "Hamlet"

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William Shakespeare’s revenge tragedy Hamlet presents a universal protaganist who defies to Aristotelian tragedy conventions to wholly embody the struggle of the human condition – Hamlet’s psychological transition from disillusionment to a state of resolution. Hamlet, a christian humanist, provides a unique introspection into the destructive consequences of inner struggle in a world of corruption and duality, while providing an insight into the issues importance during the 16th century, a period of uncertainty and instability. Shakespeare constructs the play to provide his viewers with timeless issues such as inaction, duality and corruption through provocative means and his distinct style. Furthermore, shakespeare also allows his audience within the play to choose their school of thought, urging his audience the be critical “for there is nothing either good or Hamlet’s frustration derives from his inability to abstain from living in an imperfect world and the dual nature of mankind.

Dichotomy between good and evil exists in human nature. This is manifested through Hamlet’s shifting psyche from inaction to clarity, catalysed by his loss of morality after the murder of Polonius and the inspirational determination of his foil characters, Laertes. Hamlet’s antic mental is demonstrated through his sexist imperative language“Get thee to a nunnery!” reflecting the patriarchy of the Elizabethan era. Through Hamlet’s accusation of Ophelia as impure and sinner, Shakespeare portrays Hamlet’s disillusionment towards his partner as Ophelia spying caused him to perceive her as a metaphorical eve in a metaphorical “eden” – a world of corruption. Hamlet’s metaphor“To be demanded of a sponge!”further enhances the absurdist element as he conducts verbal swordplay with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Hamlet’s dialogue demonstates his struggle to reconcile beliefs in revenge his foils carry with his humanist nature which argues revenge and violence only lead to further bloodshed. This is further epitomised by his cumulative outburst “bloody, bawdy, villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!” showing that Hamlet’s thoughts arelimited by his inaction.however, he accidentally murders Polonius and his insulting, apathetic tone reflects his moral descent“Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool! Farewell!”. This turning point catalyses Hamlet’s vengeful actions that follow. Laertes – hamlet’s foil illustrates rebellion and eagerness in revenge, expressed through the use of personification“drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard”triggers Hamlet’s shame, along with the play within a play and in turn stimulates his transformation into a hysteric which defies the cnventions of the time while adopting the Kydian revenge tragedy formula.

Consequently, Hamlet’s shifting psyche from irresolution to resolution is demonstrated through the determined tone “My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!” Overall, the dramatic effect created by Shakespeare, through depicting the shift from calvinist belief and rota fortunae onto humanism attracts the attention of the audience.

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A Universal Protagonist in William Shakespeare’s Tragedy “Hamlet”. (2019, Jun 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from
“A Universal Protagonist in William Shakespeare’s Tragedy “Hamlet”.” GradesFixer, 27 Jun. 2019,
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