Even Laertes’s affectionate relationship with his sister is tainted by a desire to install himself as a kind of censor, a “watchman” to the fortress of her heart (1.3.50). The story was an ancient one, belonging originally to Norse saga. According to the concept of The Revolutionary Cycle, a comedy features rebels who win and a tragedy features rebels who lose. . . This defect of Hamlet's character is displayed throughout the play. A tragedy can be defined simply as a play that has a sad and depressing ending. Praised by Shakespeare’s contemporaries for its power to “please all” as well as “to please the wiser sort,”2 it provided his company with an immediate and continuing success. . / O, vengeance!” (II.ii.) Polonius is the perfect inhabitant of this court: busily policing his children’s sexuality, he has no scruple about prostituting his daughter in the interests of state security, for beneath his air of senile wordiness and fatherly anxiousness lies an ingrained cynicism that allows him both to spy on his son’s imagined “drabbing” in Paris and to “loose” his daughter as a sexual decoy to entrap the Prince. It is as if the springing of the “Mousetrap” leaves Hamlet with nowhere to go—primarily because it leaves him with nothing to say. It was written in the early modern era, and takes a “modern” view of humanity. Marry, I will teach you. It also does not follow classical conventions, such as only three speakers at a time, and a chorus that sets up each scene. However, in the eyes of a modern audience, Hamlet would not be considered a coward because of our deeper, more enlightened understanding of the underpinning reasons for his hesitation through our values and beliefs. . It was equally admired by popular audiences at the Globe on the Bankside, by academic playgoers “in the two Universities of Cambridge and Oxford,” and at court—where it was still in request in 1637, nearly forty years after its first performance. The new tragedy preserved the outline of the old story, and took over Kyd’s most celebrated contributions—a ghost crying for revenge, and a play-within-the-play that sinisterly mirrors the main plot; but by focusing upon the perplexed interior life of the hero, Shakespeare gave a striking twist to what had been a brutally straightforward narrative. The scene in which the Players present The Murder of Gonzago, the play that Hamlet calls “The Mousetrap,” brings the drama of surveillance to its climax. Turning away from the framework of ethical debate, Shakespeare used Saxo’s story of Hamlet’s pretended madness and delayed revenge to explore the brutal facts about survival in an authoritarian state. And we can say that Hamlet is just might be western literature’s first modern man or modern teenager. . . Cite as. It is from this pressure that the first three acts of the play derive most of their extraordinary energy; and the energy is given a concrete dramatic presence in the form of the Ghost. (1.5.18–21). (3.2.85–92). For other uses, see Hamlet (disambiguation). Even today, when criticism stresses the importance of the reader’s role in “constructing” the texts of the past, there is something astonishing about Hamlet’s capacity to accommodate the most bafflingly different readings.3. You can get your own copy of this text to keep. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc. On the levels of both revenge play and psychological drama, the play develops a preoccupation with the hidden, the secret, and the mysterious that does much to account for its air of mystery. Hamlet is delighted: now memory can begin its work of loving resurrection. Both his suffering and his reaffirmation of human dignity must be he sounds like a sillier version of Hieronimo, the hero of The Spanish Tragedy. Yet in order to understand more deeply the modernity of this Shakespearean hero, Welsh first situates Focusing on Shakespeare'sHamletas foremost a study of grief, Alexander Welsh offers a powerful analysis of its protagonist as the archetype of the modern hero. B. Spencer, ed., Hamlet (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980), p. 52. Jan Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary (London: Methuen, 1964). This essay will first analyze Shakespeare’s Hamlet under Aristotle’s tragedy theory. . . In Hamlet in Purgatory, Greenblatt argues that the Ghost of Hamlet is not simply a plot device, a generic convention of the Elizabethan revenge tragedy, as sometimes assumed. 6. But Shakespeare’s wholesale rewriting produced a Hamlet so utterly unlike Kyd’s work that its originality was unmistakable even to playgoers familiar with Kyd’s play. Hamlet’s play, however, does not even make public Claudius’s forbidden story. All Hamlet can do is attempt to duplicate the triumph of “The Mousetrap” in his confrontation with Gertrude by holding up to her yet another verbal mirror, in which she is forced to gaze in horror on her “inmost part” (3.4.25). Hamlet's flaw, which in accordance with Aristotle's principles of tragedy causes his demise, is his inability to act. This is a play so dominated by one character that Hamlet without the 'Prince is impossible to imagine. The play deals with his suffering and tragic death. An audience caught up in Hamlet’s wild excitement is easily blinded to the fact that this seeming climax is, in terms of the revenge plot, at least, a violent anticlimax. If there is a final secret to be revealed, then, about that “undiscovered country” on which Hamlet’s imagination broods, it is perhaps only the Gravedigger’s spade that can uncover it. Hamlet perceives himself as a coward for many reasons however after in-depth analysis, it is concluded that his self-accusation is incorrect. Indeed, while it serves to confirm the truth of what the Ghost has said, the only practical effect of the Prince’s theatrical triumph is to hand the initiative decisively to Claudius. In this sense the Gravedigger is the mocking counterpart of the Player: and the houses of oblivion that gravediggers make challenge the players’ memorial art by lasting “till doomsday” (5.1.61). Shakespeare’s Hamlet follows this definition for the most part, and even though it is not always in agreement with Aristotelian guidelines, it is still a great and effective tragedy. How we respond to the ending of Hamlet—both as revenge drama and as psychological study—depends in part on how we respond to yet a third level of the play—that is, to Hamlet as a prolonged meditation on death. Orestes in Greek Tragedyis probably his ultimate progenitor, not Oedipus, as some critics have suggested. Part of Springer Nature. The play vividly focuses on the theme of moral corruption, treachery, revenge, and incest. The other characters in the play serve as foils to him. The most lucid guide to this critical labyrinth, though he deals with no work later than 1960, is probably still Morris Weitz, Hamlet and the Philosophy of Literary Criticism (London: Faber, 1964). which passes show” that can escape the taint of hypocrisy, of “acting.” It is as if, in this world of remorseless observation, the self can survive only as a ferociously defended secret, something treasured for the very fact of its hiddenness and impenetrability. Here too the play could speak to Elizabethan experience, for we should not forget that the glorified monarchy of Queen Elizabeth I was sustained by a vigorous network of spies and informers. Hamlet has the most prominent features of a tragedy, as Shakespeare and many dramatists of his time evidently understood tragedy. If there is a better story, one that would confer on the rough matter of life the consolations of form and significance, it is, the play tells us, one that cannot finally be told; for it exists on the other side of language, to be tantalizingly glimpsed only at the point when Hamlet is about to enter the domain of the inexpressible. He is confronted by a situation which is more than he can cope with until by tragic … . It has a tragic hero (protagonist) of high rank, on whom for his predominantly high character our sympathies are principally centred, and who ends in a tragic catastrophe which he has a decisive share in bringing about. On the basis of some unconventional rules Miller produces a tragedy, which is very modern in respects of the style as well as the subject matter. The fact that it is a story that demands telling, and that its narrator is “an honest ghost,” cannot alter the fact that it will work away in Hamlet’s being like secret venom until he in turn can vent it in revenge. Shakespeare’s Elsinore, too—the castle governed by Claudius and home to Hamlet—is full of eyes and ears; and behind the public charade of warmth, magnanimity, and open government that King Claudius so carefully constructs, the lives of the King’s subjects are exposed to merciless inquisition. Get in touch here. 7. Continue Reading. MODERN DAY HAMLET: THE TRAGEDY OF VENGEANCE. Hamlet is a revenge tragedy written in the line of Roman Senecan tragedy. Hamlet is a play that very closely follows the dramatic conventions of revenge tragedy. “The Mousetrap” twice reenacts Claudius’s murder of his brother—first in the dumb show and then in the play proper—drawing out the effect so exquisitely that the King’s enraged interruption produces an extraordinary discharge of tension. Even the tale it is permitted to unfold is, ironically, one of murderous interruption and terrible incompleteness: No reck’ning made, but sent to my account. The great Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold used to maintain that “if all the plays ever written suddenly disappeared and only Hamlet miraculously survived, all the theaters in the world would be saved. When Hamlet cries “Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless Villain! . The transcendence Hamlet seeks proves elusive due to the physicality of his plight- the self is a prison, and so long as we read Hamlet, Hamlet will always be himself, unable to throw off the beautiful burden of existence. Shakespeare's tragedy "Hamlet" has a number of major themes, such as death and revenge, but the play also includes sub-themes, such as the state of Denmark, incest, and uncertainty.With this review, you can better understand the drama's wide range of … In the classical tragedy, the protagonist is typically from a wealthy, noble or royal family on the other hand in the modern tragedy; the protagonist usually has a common, middle-class background. “Madness in great ones,” the King insists, “must not unwatched go” (3.1.203): And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose, Will be some danger. It was first adapted for the English theater in the late 1580s in the form of the so-called Ur-Hamlet, a play attributed to Thomas Kyd (unfortunately now lost) that continued to hold the stage until at least 1596; and it may well be that when Shakespeare began work on Hamlet about 1599, he had no more lofty intention than to polish up this slightly tarnished popular favorite. In the opening scene the Ghost itself is cut off, before it can speak, by the crowing of a cock; and when it returns and speaks to Hamlet, it speaks first about a story it cannot tell: I could a tale unfold whose lightest word, young blood . Unable to display preview. But Shakespeare simply takes this context for granted, and goes on to discover a quite different kind of political interest in his plot—one that may help to explain the paranoiac anxieties it was apparently capable of arousing in a dictator like Stalin. It is no coincidence, then, that he should foresee the conclusion of his own tragedy as being the product of someone else’s script: “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, / Rough-hew them how we will” (5.2.11–12). The play is virtually framed by two encounters with the dead: at one end is the Ghost, at the other a pile of freshly excavated skulls. (1.5.42–71). Although Hamlet is often thought of as the most personal of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Shakespeare did not invent the story of revenge that the play tells. 3. The play-within-a-play staged in Act III, Scene 2 is a parody of a revenge tragedy: … Hamletis one of the most influential tragedies written by Shakespeare. . 5. The tragedy of Hamlet explores the themes of vengeance and human emotion, making it one of the most famous tragedies written in history. Forced to master his opponent’s craft of smiling villainy, he becomes not merely an actor but also a dramatist, ingeniously using a troupe of traveling players, with their “murder in jest,” to unmask the King’s own hypocritical “show.”. The character is a mysterious combination of a series of literary sources and the phenomenal genius of the playwright. If surveillance is one prop of the authoritarian state, the other is its militant regulation of speech. The Classical tragedy has one unified plot with one-time span whereas the modern tragedy has more than one or multiple plots with many periods and flashbacks. Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy had developed the play-within-the-play as a perfect vehicle for the ironies of revenge, allowing the hero to take his actual revenge in the very act of staging the villain’s original crime. We in the audience become participants in the drama’s claustrophobic economy of watching and listening, as our attention moves to and fro among the various groups on the stage, gauging the significance of every word, action, and reaction, sharing the obsessional gaze that Hamlet describes to Horatio: Observe my uncle. Its power, both for the audience and for young Hamlet, goes far beyond its function as a plot catalyst. . It would be a mistake, of course, to underestimate the dramatic significance of Horatio’s story or of the “music and the rite of war”—these last gestures of ritual consolation—especially in a play where, beginning with the obscene confusion of Claudius’s “mirth in funeral” and including Polonius’s “hugger-mugger” interment and Ophelia’s “maimed rites,” we have seen the dead repeatedly degraded by the slighting of their funeral pomps. The 16th century and its religious wars; colonial conquests; and economic, technological and military advances brought an end to the certainties of the Middle Ages and the naive hopes of the Renaissance. It is Shakespeare's longest play with 30,557 words. . Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, Hamlet and the Philosophy of Literary Criticism, To Be and Not To Be: Negation and Meta-drama in “Hamlet”. Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy had developed the play-within-the-play as a perfect vehicle for the ironies of revenge, allowing the hero to take his actual revenge in the very act of staging the villain’s original crime. Antonina W. Bouis (London: Faber, 1981), p. 84. The skulls (all but one) are nameless and silent; the Ghost has an identity (though a “questionable” one) and a voice; yet they are more alike than might at first seem. Act 5 at last produces the formal reckoning of this imperfect account, yet it leaves Hamlet once again echoing the Ghost’s agony of frustrated utterance. Modern readings, too, while still fascinated by the hero’s intellectual and emotional complexities, are likely to emphasize those characteristics that are least compatible with the idealized “sweet prince” of the Victorians—the diseased suspicion of women, revealed in his obsession with his mother’s sexuality and his needless cruelty to Ophelia, his capacity for murderous violence (he dies with the blood of five people on his hands), and his callous indifference to the killing of such relative innocents as Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. Denmark, Hamlet informs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern accurately enough, is “a prison” (2.2.262); and the treachery of these former school friends of Hamlet illustrates how much, behind the mask of uncle Claudius’s concern, his court is ruled by the prison-house customs of the stool pigeon and the informer. But what, we might ask, can there be left to tell, beyond what we have already seen and heard? . . In the early nineteenth century, for instance, Romantic critics read it as the psychological study of a prince too delicate and sensitive for his public mission; to later nineteenth-century European intellectuals, the hero’s anguish and self-reproach spoke so eloquently of the disillusionment of revolutionary failure that in czarist Russia “Hamletism” became the acknowledged term for political vacillation and disengagement. It has a tragic hero (protagonist) of high rank, on whom for his predominantly high character our sympathies are principally centred, and who ends in a tragic catastrophe which he has a decisive share in bringing about. To the admiring Ophelia, Hamlet remains “Th’ observed of all observers” (3.1.168), but his obvious alienation has resulted in his being “observed” in a much more sinister sense. . Thus the soliloquy that ends Act 2 reproaches itself for a kind of speechlessness—the mute ineffectuality of a “John-a-dreams,” who, unlike the Player, “can say nothing”—and at the same time mocks itself as a torrent of empty language, a mere unpacking of the heart with words (2.2.593–616). Had I but time (as this fell sergeant, Death, Is strict in his arrest), O, I could tell you—, But let it be. In 'Death of a Salesman' Arthur Miller presents a tragedy which is different from the classical and Shakespearean tragedies. Then this essay will express personal opinion on Aristotle’s tragedy … The most balanced treatment of this and other contentious historical issues in the play is in Roland M. Frye, The Renaissance Hamlet (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). . How readily first Ophelia and then Gertrude allow themselves to become passive instruments of Polonius’s and Claudius’s spying upon the Prince; how easily Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are persuaded to put their friendship with Hamlet at the disposal of the state. . If Claudius’s propaganda has abused “the whole ear of Denmark” like a second poisoning, the Ghost’s own story enters Hamlet’s “ears of flesh and blood” (line 28) like yet another corrosive. You could easily make the argument that Hamlet is still relevant to today's high school students because the themes that it covers are timeless. But it is only a metaphoric revenge. While Hamlet, being a tragedy, is generally seen as a very serious play, in some ways it seems to make fun of the revenge tragedies that came before it. For over two centuries writers and critics have viewed Hamlet's persona as a fascinating blend of self-consciousness, guilt, and wit. Hamlet’s soliloquies bulk so large in our response to the play because they not only guarantee the existence of the hero’s secret inner life; they also, by their relentless self-questioning, imply the presence of still more profoundly secret truths “hid . The full meaning of that silky phrase will be disclosed on Claudius’s next appearance, when, after Hamlet has met the Ghost and has begun to appear mad, Claudius engages Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to probe his nephew’s threatening transformation (2.2.1–18). 435, 209; see also pp. Yorick’s skull, the King’s jester” (5.1.186–87). Not affiliated As a class, we will watch The Lion King for the purpose of comparison. was . It might as well be what it will one day become—a handful of clay, fit to stop a beer barrel. Aristotle states that tragedy is “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude” (22). The great subject of revenge drama, before Hamlet, was the moral problem raised by private, personal revenge: i.e., should the individual take revenge into his own hands or leave it to God? For his digging lays bare the one thing we can say for certain lies hidden “within” the mortal show of the flesh—the emblems of Death himself, that Doppelgänger who shadows each of us as the mysterious Lamord (La Mort) shadows Laertes. At the same time, it has developed a reputation as the most intellectually puzzling of his plays, and it has already attracted more commentary than any other work in English except the Bible. He is confronted by a situation which is more than he can cope with until by tragic errors in facing it he has helped to bring catastrophe on others as well as himself: innocent, like Ophelia, or if, like Gertrude, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Polonius, and even Laertes, they are chief authors of their own disasters, not fully deserving what happens to them. Romeo and Juliet are rebels who lose, Richard III loses, the rebels in Julius Caesar lose. Hamlet is the center of action in the play. . Hamlet's pursuit to revenge his father's death blinded his morals and intelligence and lead to his untimely death. (3.1.178–81), But of course Hamlet’s madness is as much disguise as it is revelation; and while the Prince is the most ruthlessly observed character in the play, he is also its most unremitting observer. This might be the pate of a politician . Motif Like Father Like Son Literature Movies to Relate Art of Sabotage Music Works Perhaps the idea that vengeance is the key to discovering a solution to a conflict is the very thing that corrupts most individuals. After the Greeks came Seneca who was particularly influential to all Elizabethan playwrights including William Shakespeare. . So the whole ear of Denmark, The leprous distilment. It is as if two plays are occurring simultaneously. Revenge tragedy (sometimes referred to as revenge drama, revenge play, or tragedy of blood) is a theoretical genre in which the principal theme is revenge and revenge's fatal consequences. Excerpt from “Viking Dublin: Trial Pieces” from Poems, 1965–1975 by Seamus Heaney. They could all put on Hamlet and be successful.”1 Perhaps Meyerhold exaggerated because of his frustration—he was prevented from ever staging the tragedy by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who apparently thought it too dangerous to be performed—but Meyerhold’s sense of Hamlet’s extraordinary breadth of appeal is amply confirmed by its stage history. . . All revenge tragedies originally stemmed from the Greeks, who wrote and performed the first plays. In this context it matters profoundly that Hamlet alone is accorded the full dignity of obsequies suited to his rank, for it signals his triumph over the oblivion to which Claudius is fittingly consigned, and, in its gesture back toward Hamlet’s story as Shakespeare has told it (so much better than Horatio does), it brings Hamlet’s story to a heroic end. As it is now Acted at his Highness the Duke of York's Theatre. Hamlet’s ability to adapt itself to the preconceptions of almost any audience, allowing the viewers, in the play’s own sardonic phrase, to “botch the words up fit to their own thoughts” (4.5.12), results partly from the boldness of its design. Hamlet, by contrast, finds in soliloquy an arena where the unspeakable can be uttered. 4. In this moment he identifies himself as the Prince’s mortal double, the Sexton Death from the Danse Macabre who has been preparing him a grave from the moment of birth. Cinema has even taken a fancy to Hamlet, with movies like Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and The Lion King taking inspiration. Otherwise he seems oddly paralyzed by his success—a condition displayed in the prayer scene (3.3.77–101) where he stands behind the kneeling Claudius with drawn sword, “neutral to his will and matter,” uncannily resembling the frozen revenger described in the First Player’s speech about Pyrrhus standing over old Priam (2.2.493 ff.). . Introduction to T. J. 8. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer”; 5.1.78–101) only serves to emphasize their mocking anonymity, until the Gravedigger offers to endow one with a precise historical identity: “This same skull . Permission for use of these lines from North by Seamus Heaney, published by Faber and Faber Limited, is also acknowledged. The barbaric narrative of murder and revenge—of a king killed by his brother, who then marries the dead king’s widow, of the young prince who must pretend to be mad in order to save his own life, who eludes a series of traps laid for him by his wicked uncle, and who finally revenges his father’s death by killing the uncle—had been elaborated in the twelfth-century Historiae Danicae of Saxo Grammaticus, and then polished up for sixteenth-century French readers in François de Belleforest’s Histoires Tragiques. Instead, he faces his end tormented by a sense of incompleteness, of a story still remaining to be told: You that look pale and tremble at this chance. . Copyright © 1975, 1980 by Seamus Heaney. This service is more advanced with JavaScript available, Hamlet by William Shakespeare In the four centuries since it was first staged, Hamlet has never lost its theatrical appeal, remaining today the most frequently performed of Shakespeare’s tragedies. From his first big speech in the play, he has made such hiddenness the badge of his resistance to the King and Queen: “I have that within which passes show” (1.2.88), he announces. The protagonist is very reflective and too sensitive, thus unfit for taking revenge through action. Over 10 million scientific documents at your fingertips. Hamlet represents the forces of (fairly) good intentions, seeking to do as the ghost of his father asks. reserve thy judgment” (1.3.65–75). In the last scene of the play, the sense that Hamlet’s story has been shaped by Providence—or by a playwright other than Hamlet—is very strong: the swordplay with Laertes is a theatrical imitation of dueling that becomes the real thing, sweetly knitting up the paralyzing disjunction between action and acting; at the same time, revenge is symmetrically perfected in the spectacle of Claudius choking on “a poison tempered by himself,” Laertes “justly killed with his own treachery,” and the Queen destroyed in the vicious pun that has her poisoned by Claudius’s “union.” Yet Hamlet’s consoling fatalism does not survive the final slaughter. . . It also defines a tragic plot as one with a royal character losing, through his own pride, a mighty prize. If Hamlet’s “antic disposition” is the guardian of his rebellious inwardness, soliloquy is where this inwardness lives, a domain which (if we except Claudius’s occasional flickers of conscience) no other character is allowed to inhabit. Read the NoSweatShakespeare Modern Hamlet ebook for free! Hamlet cannot stop being himself, which is the real reflection on the modern individual, for it is very much the burden of man to live, dream, and die alone. Hamlet is tragedy because the want of poetic justice, for them and the hero, keeps it a painful mystery; and because the chain of cause and effect prevents it equally from being ‘Absurd’ drama, as does Hamlet’s final acceptance of Providence at work in it to ‘shape our ends’. As the “common” place to which all stories lead, the graveyard both invites narrative and silences it. Unlike Gertrude, unlike Ophelia, unlike those absorbent “sponges” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet must insist he is not made of “penetrable stuff.”. Hamlet's tragedy is a particular example of a universal predicament; action is necessary, but action in a fallen world involves us in evil. This article explores, … Shakespeare was not attempting to justify the ways of God to men … He was writing tragedy, and tragedy would not be tragedy if it were not a painful mystery. Shakespearean tragedies also center around the classic good versus evil battle. 262 and 403. As Claudius flatters the court into mute complicity with his theft of both the throne and his dead brother’s wife, he genially insists “You cannot speak of reason to the Dane / And lose your voice” (1.2.44–45); but an iron wall of silence encloses the inhabitants of his courtly prison. In groups, you will be assigned a topic for comparison, and as we watch the film, you will take notes about your topic. He has to undo the past, but the paradox of guilt and justice baffles him. It gives, in a sense, a public voice to the Ghost’s silenced story. Hamlet’s role as hero at once sets him apart from this prison-house world and yet leads him to become increasingly entangled in its web of surveillance. or of a courtier . . The soliloquies are the focus of the play’s preoccupation with speaking and silence. come from the grave,” its appearance suggesting a grotesque disinterment of the buried king (1.4.52–57; 1.5.139). Give it an understanding but no tongue” (1.2.269–71). The “Mousetrap” play is at once a fulfillment and an escape from that compulsion. Twitter; Facebook; Instagram; Pinterest; Home; Resources . It is the tragedy of reflection and moral sensitivity. Speaking daggers and poison but using none, Hamlet turns out only to have written his own inability to bring matters to an end. Do you have questions or feedback for the Folger Shakespeare team? Give him heedful note, And, after, we will both our judgments join, In censure of his seeming. In the play "Hamlet" written by William Shakespeare, is a play that revolves around tragedy and revenge and this revenge leads to Hamlets death and people that were close to him. Hamlet is an excellent example of this. Disney’s 1994 film The Lion King is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Hamlet. The story of our lives, the play wryly acknowledges, is always the wrong story; but the rest, after all, is silence. Dmitri Shostakovich, Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, as related to and edited by Solomon Volkow, trans. Indeed, one portrait of Elizabeth shows her dressed in a costume allegorically embroidered with eyes and ears, partly to advertise that her watchers and listeners were everywhere. . Hamlet’s play, however, does not even make public Claudius’s forbidden story. Classical tragedy preserves the unities -- one timespan, one setting, one story -- as they originated in the Greek theater. Hamlet. The effect of the Ghost’s narrative upon Hamlet is to infuse him with the same desire; indeed, once he has formally inscribed its watchword—“Remember me”—on the tables of his memory, he is as if possessed by the Ghost, seeming to mime its speechless torment when he appears to Ophelia, looking “As if he had been loosèd out of hell / To speak of horrors” (2.1.93–94).

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