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  • Date Submitted: 10/16/2010 02:39 AM
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Hamlet – Speech

‘Hamlet is simply a play about revenge’. Discuss

Through the course of the dramatic text, ‘Hamlet’, the attainment of power is a major motif. Written by William Shakespeare, the play identifies itself as a revenge tragedy. There are many interpretations of the play including the critic Samuel Coleridge’s theory stating that Prince Hamlet delays revenge due to over-thinking while an opposing critic, Sigmund Freud stated that the play embodies the concept of the Oedipal Complex. These interpretations of the play try to incorporate a basis as to why Prince Hamlet delays the act of revenge.

To say that Hamlet is simply a play about revenge, is like saying that an apple is eaten just for the enjoyment. The fact is, Hamlet cannot be summed up into one type of concept or idea, but has many aspects to it. For instance, the concept of religious beliefs is highly pointed out throughout the text. Prince Hamlet has to deal with the question, is committing revenge a sin? During Act 3 Scene 3, Prince Hamlet abandons his chance of killing Claudius in the chapel as he believes the king will be sent to heaven.
In Elizabethan times, it was believed that a soul would be sent to heaven after it is relieved of its sins. To interpret this scene to the readers, Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to make us seem like a character in the play, as we later find that Hamlet missed out on his chance to slay the king.
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never go to heaven”
Therefore it is seen that the Prince delays murder because of his devout beliefs.

On the other hand, Coleridge postulates that the text is based on Prince Hamlet’s hesitation to exact revenge because he is “too much a man of thought”. He becomes a prisoner of his own thinking, and of his knowledge that his stepfather is a murderer and his mother incestuous. Prince Hamlet is shown to use the method of antic disposition to elude away the fact that he is suspicious of...


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