Hamlet – The Great tragedy by William Shakespeare


Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Hamlet - The Great tragedy by William Shakespeare 2


Hamlet” is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play follows the story of Prince Hamlet of Denmark, who seeks revenge for his father’s murder while grappling with existential questions, moral dilemmas, and the complexities of human nature.

The play opens with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, appearing to the guards on the castle battlements. The ghost reveals that he was murdered by his brother, Claudius, who has since married Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude, and taken the throne. Troubled by this revelation, Hamlet vows to avenge his father’s death.

Throughout the play, Hamlet feigns madness as he seeks to uncover the truth about his father’s murder. He becomes obsessed with proving Claudius’s guilt, leading to a series of tragic events that unravel the Danish court. Hamlet’s inner conflict, his wavering determination, and his philosophical introspection drive the plot forward.

The play features a number of iconic scenes, including Hamlet’s famous soliloquies such as “To be or not to be” and the play within a play known as “The Mousetrap,” which Hamlet uses to gauge Claudius’s reaction to a reenactment of the murder.

As the play progresses, relationships become strained, and the line between reality and pretense blurs. Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia, his love interest, deteriorates, leading to her tragic end. Meanwhile, Hamlet’s interactions with Polonius, Ophelia’s father, and his childhood friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern further highlight his complex nature.

The climax of the play occurs in the final act when Hamlet confronts Claudius in a duel. Tragically, almost every character meets a fatal end, including Hamlet himself. The play ends with the ascension of Prince Fortinbras of Norway to the Danish throne, marking the fall of the royal family of Denmark.

Character List:

– Hamlet: The tragic protagonist, the Prince of Denmark, tormented by grief, revenge, and existential questions.
– Claudius: The new king of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle, and the main antagonist.
– Gertrude: Hamlet’s mother and Queen of Denmark, caught between her son and her new husband.
– Polonius: Ophelia’s father and advisor to Claudius, known for his long-winded speeches and meddling nature.
– Ophelia: Hamlet’s love interest and Polonius’s daughter, driven to madness and tragedy.
– Horatio: Hamlet’s loyal friend and confidant.
– Laertes: Ophelia’s brother, who seeks revenge for his family’s downfall.
– Fortinbras: The Prince of Norway, whose appearance at the end of the play signifies the restoration of order.


– “To be, or not to be: that is the question.” (Act III, Scene I)
– “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.” (Act II, Scene II)
– “This above all: to thine own self be true.” (Act I, Scene III)
– “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (Act III, Scene II)
– “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Act I, Scene V)

Criticism on Hamlet:

Hamlet by William Shakespeare is one of the most renowned and frequently studied plays in the literary canon. First performed around the year 1600, the tragedy explores themes of revenge, madness, moral corruption, and the complexity of human nature. Over the centuries, Hamlet has received extensive criticism, with scholars offering various interpretations of the play’s characters, themes, and underlying messages. In this essay, we will delve into a comprehensive analysis of Hamlet, examining the major themes explored in the play and discussing some of the critical interpretations that have emerged over time.

One of the central themes in Hamlet is the concept of revenge. The play revolves around the eponymous protagonist, Prince Hamlet, who is compelled to avenge his father’s murder by his uncle Claudius, who has seized the throne and married Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s quest for revenge becomes entangled with his inner conflicts and doubts, leading to introspection and existential questioning. The theme of revenge highlights the moral complexities surrounding the act of vengeance and raises questions about justice, duty, and the consequences of one’s actions.

Another prominent theme in Hamlet is the exploration of madness. The play raises the question of whether Hamlet’s apparent madness is genuine or feigned. Hamlet’s erratic behavior, his ambiguous speeches, and his interactions with other characters create an atmosphere of uncertainty, leaving the audience to interpret his mental state. The theme of madness serves as a vehicle for Shakespeare to delve into the complexities of human psychology and the fine line between sanity and insanity. It also raises questions about the authenticity of one’s actions and the role of deception in achieving one’s objectives.

Moral corruption is another significant theme in Hamlet. The play portrays a world where deceit, manipulation, and treachery are rampant. Characters such as Claudius and his accomplices, including Polonius and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, embody this corruption. Claudius’s murder of King Hamlet to seize power is the epitome of this moral decay. The theme of moral corruption emphasizes the consequences of immoral actions and the erosion of societal values. It also explores the tension between appearances and reality, as characters disguise their true intentions and engage in duplicity.

The theme of mortality and the contemplation of death permeate Hamlet. The play is replete with references to mortality, suicide, and the afterlife. Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, “To be, or not to be,” reflects his contemplation of the meaning of life and the fear of the unknown that death represents. The theme of mortality underscores the fleeting nature of human existence and the existential questions that arise when confronted with our own mortality. It also raises questions about the purpose of life and the value of human existence.

Hamlet explores the complexity of human nature, another central theme in the play. Characters such as Hamlet himself, Ophelia, and Claudius are multifaceted and exhibit conflicting emotions and motivations. Hamlet, in particular, embodies the dichotomy of human nature, oscillating between intellect and emotion, hesitation and action, and sanity and madness. The theme of human nature delves into the internal struggles, contradictions, and moral dilemmas faced by individuals. It also examines the inherent flaws and vulnerabilities that make us human.

Critical interpretations of Hamlet have evolved over time, reflecting changing perspectives and scholarly approaches. One of the earliest interpretations of the play focused on the character of Hamlet as a representative of the Renaissance man, grappling with existential questions and embodying the intellectual and emotional conflicts of the era. This interpretation highlights Hamlet’s introspection, his philosophical musings, and his internal struggle to reconcile his duty to avenge his father with his moral qualms.

Read : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamlet, 100 Books You Should Read in a Lifetime

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