Author: William Shakespeare
The greatest Shakespeare’s creation: Hamlet
Reworking a medieval legend and an old English play about Prince Hamlet, Shakespeare depicted the tragedy of humanism in the modern world with the greatest depth. Hamlet, the Danish prince, is a perfect image of a humanist who is forced to confront the hostile world.
Revenge as a Universal Duty
The insidious murder of his father reveals to the son the evil that rules the country. The duty to avenge the murder of his father is not ordinary blood feud for Hamlet. For him, it transforms into the public debt of the struggle for right actions, into a large and difficult historical assignment. However, in this struggle Hamlet hesitates, cruelly reproaching himself for inactivity. Sometimes the thought is expressed that Hamlet is a weak-minded man by his nature, a thinker and an observer, not capable of decisive action. But this is not so. The tragedy of the protagonist demonstrates the powerful force of feelings common for people of the Renaissance era. He is seriously influenced by the death of his father and the disgraceful marriage of his mother. Hamlet loves Ophelia but does not find happiness with her. His cruelty and the offensive words he tells the girl testify to the power of his love and disappointment.
Humanism as a Fundamental Principle
Hamlet is distinguished by nobility and supports lofty humanistic ideas about people. His enormous bitterness when he encounters the world of lies and crime, guile and blasphemy surrounding him, follow from here. Hamlet is capable of a great and faithful friendship. In relations with people he does not adhere to feudal prejudices. He values people for their personal qualities, and not for the position they occupy. One of his close friends is Horatio. Disregarding the courtiers, Hamlet welcomes people of art – actors. He is loved by the people, and the king is anxious about it.
Hamlet is a man of philosophical thought. He is able to trace the elements of large universal phenomena in separate facts. It is not the ability to meditate that delays his actions in the struggle, but the gloomy conclusions to which he comes as a result of thinking about everything around him. The events taking place at the court lead Hamlet to principal conclusions about a human and the world in general. Hamlet imagines the world as a vegetable garden with weeds abound, or a well-arranged prison with casemates, chambers, and dungeons. Hamlet calls the world “an exuberant garden,” which produces only a wild and dashing seed. He expresses doubts about the value of life itself. Recounting the various troubles of a human, he depicts the customs of society.
Reformation of Society
As a consequence, Hamlet is struck not only by the crime of Claudius but by the entire system of hostile principles of life and the moral concepts peculiar to the society in which he lives. The protagonist knows that he cannot confine himself to vengeance since the killing of Claudius will not change the world. Hamlet does not refuse revenge, but at the same time he realizes that his task is to counteract evil as such. The greatness of this assignment and its objective impracticability predetermine the extreme complexity of Hamlet’s inner life and actions. It is difficult for him to determine his own place and to find real means of struggle. The scale of evil oppresses Hamlet, makes him disappointed and aware of the meagerness of his forces. A human and the world are not perceived as they used to be. Thus, Hamlet does not face a random crime or a single enemy, but the entire society which is wrong. Since his far-sighted philosophical thought reveals the rules of the society he faces, he feels his impotence in the struggle against evil.
The content of the tragedy “Hamlet” was inspired by the social conditions of England of that time, but its significance goes far beyond the borders of one country and one historical period. The picture of oppression and lies, in particular, tyranny shown in it turns out to be true for other times as well. This is the reason for the uninterrupted centuries-long interest in Hamlet, a noble and lonely fighter against evil, and his suffering experiences in an unequal struggle.