The Hamlet by Shakespeare is captivating and has attracted many readers to it for various reasons. There are some who read it for entertainment, criticism, education, and enlightenment. The Hamlet has a tragic tonality linked to the characters to the story. The play is approximated to have been written in 1601. The story was inspired by the death of his son, Hamnet, in 1556 for reasons unknown to him. In addition, during that same period, he was writing the book his father died (Bannet 4). The main character in the story is named Hamlet which is a closer association to Hamnet the name of his only offspring who died at a young age.
In the book out of the 9 characters 8 of them died, this indicates that the deaths in the life of Shakespeare had a major impact on his work. This shaped his perception of life as being trivial as he killed 8 characters in his work using different twist to heighten the curiosity of the ready. Moreover, the perception of the protagonist, Hamlet, about death reflects his own viewpoints. In the graveyard scene when he sees the skull of a person he loved Yorick, he comprehends that death is the only aspect that eradicates the disparities between people (Shakespeare 5.1.90-91) Hamlet the protagonist states that death comes without warning and therefore one should be prepared when he decides to fight (Shakespeare 5.2.222).
The second reason that the book was written it was to highlight the tensions that were present during the English Reformation. The reformation focused on the religious legitimacy between the Catholics and Protestants. The reformation and its aftermaths were prominent in the British way of life from the 1530s. There were sharp disparity and a form of hatred between the people who practiced different faiths. Shakespeare was born Catholic but was baptized into the Protestant religion. In 1592, 8 years before writing the play, he moved to London where Protestant religion was more noticeable and vocal than the countryside. However, resistance to the religion was still imminent but in underground movements (Cumming 32).
The movement into London and the constant shifts in religious legislations made people avoid declaring their religious affiliation openly. Claudius, who was a politician, states that his nephew was,going back to school in Wittenberg. (Shakespeare 1.2.117). Martin Luther who began the reformation studied at the University and he posted his Theses on the University doors. This is an indication of religious shift as the Old King Hamlet was a Catholic who belonged to the pre-formation period. During this period there was a belief in purgatory as his Ghost came from purgatory,. I am thy father’s spirit, doomed for a certain term to walk the night. confirmed to fast in fires till the crimes done in my days of nature. purged away (Shakespeare 1.5. 9-13).
Moreover, in the play, the disparity that is present among the characters resonates with the disparity that was present in England during the 16th-century. The Politician Claudius turns to religion to seek penitence for his corrupt dealings by praying but fails, Pray can I not. (Shakespeare 3.3.42). Furthermore, the constant shift in legislations confused the citizens in England making them question the religious teachings that they received when they were young and the ones they encountered as grown-ups. In the book this confusion is replicated by Hamlet as he nears his death.. a divinity that shapes our ends. (Shakespeare 5.2.1). The question is a confusion that reverberates with the citizens as they try to find their footing in the English Reformation period where there are alienated by consciences.
The third reason that influenced the story is the English Renaissance that Shakespeare lived through. The renaissance period dealt with the idea of new birth in the humanistic literary world. During the period there was a new interest cultivated in people that led to believe in themselves and profound changes in science, politics, and religion (Jamieson). Shakespeare took the political changes going around him and incorporated them in the book. In Hamlet, the new interest in the population that deals with a revolution of their mindset is portrayed by the perception of Hamlet the protagonist,. what a piece of work is a man, noble in reason. Infinite in faculties (Shakespeare 2.2 311). This is an indication of the ability of man to question their existence and value in their lives. Moreover, from the political viewpoint in the book the protagonist, Hamlet, questions Claudius rights for him to take over the throne after killing his own father (Shakespeare 1.4.67). In the past, it was unheard of to question the ascension to power.
In conclusion, based on the analysis the author had three major reasons that inspired him to write the Hamlet. They are the deaths in his family that occurred near the period when the book was written. In addition, the English reformation also influenced the characters in the story as the conflict in religious perception is seen in the characters. Finally, the renaissance period influenced the political and human philosophy that has been discussed in the Hamlet.
Bassnet, Susan. Introduction. Shakespeare. Macmillan Education UK, 1993. 1-17. Cumming, Brian. The literary culture of the reformation: grammar and grace. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2002. Jamieson, L. “How The Renaissance Affected Shakespeare.” Thoughtco, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/renaissance-shakespeares-time-2984986. Shakespeare, William, Laurence Olivier, and Jake Simmons. Hamlet. University Press, 1948.
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