Why did Shakespeare use the allusions: Adam and Eve, the snake, and the Fall in Hamlet and what is so important about them ?



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muddy-mettled's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

As someone said, the author could count on everyone in the audience being aware of GENESIS, Chapters 2 and 3.  From what little I've read, a talking beast or animal is very, very rare in Scripture, and therefore puzzling.  This thought, perhaps, follows from some lines from the Ghost:  "'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,/ A serpent stung me...............But know, thy noble youth, / The serpent that did sting thy father's life/ Now wears his crown."(Act 1, scene 5).  One might ask:  "We have an orchard, a man and a serpent.  Where's the woman?"  A bit further on in the same scene we have:  "Sleeping within my orchard, / My custom always of the afternoon, / Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole."  In Act 3, scene 4, Hamlet says:  "Assume a virtue, if you have it not. / That monster custom....."  Perhaps, then, the author is recommending the simple language of GENESIS, Chapter 1 and the customary seven cardinal virtues to his audience.

muddy-mettled's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

Suggestions for further reading.  At some libraries, an essay by one Alice-Lyle Scoufos can be found in anthologies about AS YOU LIKE IT, or you can read about the article online. An interesting article can be found online by one Edward T. Oakes, S.J.   about "original sin."  He has also written articles about Shakespeare.

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