‘Where be his quiddities now, his qualities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? … … Is this the fine of his fines and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine plate full of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth a pair of indentures? The very con- veyances of his lands scarcely lie in this box, and must th’inheritor himself have no more, ha? ‘ (Act:V Scene:i Lines:97-98,103-110) This particular scene would have provokes fierce controversy among the Elizabethan audience because it challenged the fundamental aspects of Christianity.
Hamlet claims that no matter how fastidious and kind a person you are during your time on earth God can not shield you from all the evil in the world. Hamlet may have been written by Shakespeare as a controversial this is probably unlikely as in the period he lived in he would have been severely punished by the government if his play had been deemed to be an attack upon the religion of the day.
In terms of making the play seem rotten and disorderly, poison and disease played an important role in the play. Old Hamlet’s cause of death of course, was poison that was poured into his ear by his brother.
‘Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatch’d, Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,’ (Act:I Scene: v Line:74-76) Claudius had managed to get rid of allot of his problems but such behaviour would have been considered blasphemous by an Elizabethan audience for a man to kill his brother and lust after his sister-in-law. The religious beliefs of the audience would have made them hate the character of Claudius and consider him an evil villain. To an Elizabethan audience women would have been considered the misfortune of all the male characters, which caused many conflicts within the play.
If Claudius had not lusted after Gertrude there would have been one less reason for old Hamlet to die. Ophelia was Hamlet’s love but was unable to stay faithful to it but instead chose to fulfil her duties to her father. She told all her secrets regarding Hamlet to her father. To an Elizabethan audience it would seem that Polonius has Ophelia under his control ‘I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth Have you so slander any moment leisure As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to’t, I charge you. Come your ways. ‘ He commands and she obeys. ‘I shall obey, my lord’ (Act:I Scene: iv Lines: 132-136)
He commands her to keep Hamlet at a distance and Ophelia trying to be the good Elizabethan daughter does as he commands. But in doing so she looses Hamlet’s trust and his love for her. This results in a love hate relationship which drives Ophelia to commit suicide and her brother being faced with some unfortunate circumstances which leads to him killing Hamlet. Alongside Hamlet’s very eccentric relationship with Ophelia, it is also argued by a modern audience that Hamlet may have had an Oedipus complex. Oedipus was a man in ancient mythology who was cursed to kill his father and marry his mother.
Shakespeare knew that most of the people of the time would have known about the story and so added an extra twist to his play. The story he told was a familiar one at the time. All Shakespeare had done was adapt an old fashioned folk story and re-constructed it to feed a common interest among his Elizabethan audience. A modern day audience would have a completely different response to the play having been a part of a modern audience it was a general feeling among the audience that many lives, including Hamlet’s own could have been saved if he had just killed his uncle earlier.
A modern audience has been hardened by a lack of religion and constant exposure to scenes of death. A modern audience has more scientific and factual knowledge about their surroundings. Seeing how when a modern day person needs a question answered he/she looks for a reason or deeper understanding to resolve the issue instead of religion hence religion is not really practised as much in modern society. Hamlet’s hesitance to kill his uncle would not have been met with sympathy by a modern audience.
To a modern audience Claudius is considered a villain and it really is not of any concern how a villain died. A modern audience would believe that Hamlet should have made the best of his chance to kill Claudius. A modern audience would care less about Hamlet’s reasoning for not killing Claudius because it had much to do with Claudius’s after life as a modern audience has little belief in that we would find it hard to understand the delay Claudius’s death. ‘A villain kills my father, and for that
I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven. Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge. ‘ (Act:III Scene: iii Lines: 76-79) A modern audience would rather have Hamlet kill Claudius quickly and not dwell on the matter for days on end, it is moral for Claudius to die because the audience knows it is a just act of revenge and the only way for old Hamlet to go to heaven. So when a modern audience looks at Hamlet they see the negative effects of his hesitation.
The political themes high-lighted in the play would not have a downbeat impact on a modern audience because we live a democratic society with law and order orchestrated by diplomatic governments and there is democratic control on the way of life and how people conduct them s elves. The exploitation and suffering of women in the play is one of the few things that would disturb a modern audience. The fact that women are treated as property raises concern about the ill treatment of women at the time Hamlet was written. Ophelia is suppressed by her father and brother and Gertrude is stuck between supporting her son or husband.
A modern audience to Hamlet will have little idea of the controversy that raged in the Elizabethan period, this is mainly due to the lack of religious zeal among modern society although it is quite interesting to see how important a responsibility religion had in the play, however to the Elizabethan audience the play would have taken on a different and deeper meaning as the repeated religious references would have struck a deep chord in the audience of the day. Consequently it is observable that an Elizabethan audience would have a completely different response to Hamlet than that of a modern audience for the above reasons.
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‘I shall obey, my lord’. (2017, Jul 31). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/i-shall-obey-my-lord-essay