Hamlet Summary Essay

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Master Shakespeare's Hamlet using Absolute Shakespeare's Hamlet essay, plot summary, quotes and characters study guides.

Plot Summary: A quick review of the plot of Hamlet including every important action in the play. An ideal introduction before reading the original text.

Commentary: Detailed description of each act with translations and explanations for all important quotes. The next best thing to an modern English translation.

Characters: Review of each character's role in the play including defining quotes and character motivations for all major characters.

Characters Analysis: Critical essay by influential Shakespeare scholar and commentator William Hazlitt, discussing all you need to know on the characters of Hamlet.

Hamlet Essay: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous essay on Hamlet based on his legendary and influential lectures and notes on Shakespeare.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Essay

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Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Essay Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is visited by a ghost resembling his father, the king of Denmark, who recently died. The ghost tells Hamlet that his father was murdered by Claudius, the king’s brother, who took the throne immediately after his death and married Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. The ghost encourages Hamlet to avenge his father’s death. The aim to kill the betrayer becomes a hard task for Hamlet. He is slow to take action although he never abandons his wish to take revenge.

Polonius’ daughter, Ophelia, is in love with Hamlet, but their relationship has been broken since Hamlet has learned about his father’s death. Later, Ophelia commits suicide as a result of Hamlet’s confusing behavior towards her and his killing her father. Hamlet decides to use actors’ play to trial the king and make sure that the latter committed the crime. He adds a scene, showing the shameful crime to the king and the audience. As the king starts to panic, Hamlet makes sure of Claudius’s committing the crime. The king realizes that Hamlet knows about his act and announces that Hamlet is mad.

Claudius plans to send Hamlet to England in order to kill him there. But the plan was not fulfilled and the prince came back to Denmark. Then Claudius takes another attempt convincing Laertes, Ophelia’s brother to strike the prince in a duel, killing him with a poisoned sword. In addition to that Claudius offers poisoned wine to Hamlet which is taken by the queen. Laertes dies from Hamlet’s sword, the queen dies poisoned and Hamlet, being wounded with the poisoned sword, passes away, asking his friend Horatio to remember his story.

The famous tragedy by William Shakespeare consists of 5 acts; while the narration develops coming to its tragic conclusion we can notice an interesting paradox in Hamlet’s behavior developing and becoming more and more complicated. The problem of the main hero consists of inability to make choice and take revenge for the shame he cannot put up with. Hamlet, being a person of heightened sensitivity, reflects upon his feelings and the moral aspect of life. I would characterize him as a thinker, not acter. The hesitation of the main character makes him ambiguous, just like a real human being.

From the first sight, the theme of the throne heritage and blood revenge may seem to be out of date for a reader of nowadays. However, we can take a more general look at the events. The protagonist is definitely Hamlet, the main hero, whose thoughts and emotions are represented in the most extensive way in the drama. But choosing the protagonists may be a more difficult task. Who is the protagonist? The king Claudius? Of course he’s the one deserving punishment, but does he make the protagonist to have his revenge? Will the evil be gone if the king is punished? And what about the other characters?

Ophelia was not consistent in her relations with Hamlet, Gertrude seemed to have no worry about the tragic death of her first husband, Ophelia’s father was involved in the royal intrigues and Laertes agreed to take part in the shameful unfair duel. The evil is not only in the criminal king, but in all the people around Hamlet. However, he seems to make that discovery only after he becomes the center of the intrigues. The most important thing is that Hamlet understands the situation perfectly clear. This very thing makes him feel weak. Such a life-like situation.

Pointing out the main problem of the plot, I found difficulty in choosing the specific theme. I see the problem as the conflict between ideals and real life, but at the same time I can formulate it as the conflict between love and duty or even in the most general idea: do our lives deserve living? I believe that exactly the versatility of the story makes it urgent nowadays. Being full of philosophical ideas, the drama can still attract with its sharp-exact observations of the paradoxes of life. I think that the main problems of life, reflected in the story, remain the same; no matter how many years or hundreds of years pass.

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As for comparing the movie and the book, I should say that it was difficult for me to comprehend the style of old cinema. Any way the scenes, the actors’ manners of playing resemble a theatre play. But in spite of the fact that scenes appear to be still, I enjoyed the playing of actor Lawrence Olivier. When I started to watch the film I had already made my own images of the main characters, but Olivier’s role replaced it. And the scene with Ophelia who had gone mad from her desperate feelings was very impressive. The movie version of 1948 made me interested in watching modern ones.

Author: Brandon Johnson

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Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Essay

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