Comment on Shakespearean drama.comment

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I am not exactly sure what you are asking for, but I see that you have tagged this topic with the specific play, Hamlet so I will provide you with some broad insights into this play and how it related to Shakespeare's dramas.

Hamlet is in the genre of tragedy, and as such, it follows the protagonist through a series of challenges that ultimately lead to his death.  In all Shakespearean tragic dramas, there is the death of the main character or characters.  Hamlet's death comes as the final culmination of his challenge to avenge his father's death.  Shakespeare is a master at making his audience understand the mind of his protagonist and thus the audience is especially drawn into the tragedy of the main character's death.  All of his tragic heroes have flaws that, while are usually considered positive qualities, ultimately lead to their downfalls.  One of Hamlet's tragic flaws is his intellectual and moral approach to his life and his decisions.  In the play he knows he needs to kill Claudius, but he won't do it until he knows the time is right and that he has good proof that the ghost's accusation is, in fact, true.

Another feature of Shakespearean drama is the five act structure. Typically, in Act 1 the scene is set and the conflict is established.  In Act 2, there are further complications.  In Act 3, the climax occurs and a choice is made or an action is taken after things cannot go back to the way they were before.  Act 4 is the immediate aftermath of the climax and serves to set up the resolution, which will come at the end of Act 5.  In Hamlet, Hamlet discovers that his father has been murdered by his uncle in Act 1.  In Act 2 he acts crazy and starts to realize that he can't trust anyone except Horatio. He creates the play that will serve to prove Claudius's guilt.  In Act 3 he discovers the truth of Claudius's guilt, but while observing Claudius in what he perceives to be a moment prayer, decides to wait in getting his vengeance.  He also accidentally hills Polonius causing further complications in his situation.  In Act 4 he must literally maneuver to save his life from Claudius's plan to have him killed in England. In the meantime, Laertes and Claudius are hatching their diabolical plan.  In Act 5, all the major players are together again and the final showdown occurs at the pre-planned fencing match.  Hamlet is killed by the poison sword, but not without Laertes being killed by the same sword and the killing of Claudius.

Shakespearean drama is remarkable in his ability to capture themes that are universal and timeless.  While no one in the audience has had a ghost tell them to avenge a murder, everyone in the audience has been in a situation that made them uncomfortable and overwhelmed.  Everyone has felt betrayed by a friend or a family member.  Everyone has delayed in the face of necessary action. Like Hamlet, we all have potentially complicated relationships with our parents; we all wonder what our most fatal flaws are and where they came from;  we all ponder whether it is "nobler to take arms against a sea of troubles" or if we are better off just dealing with the challenges that come our way in a more passive way; we all hope that we can come to accept that "there is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will." Hamlet finds peace at the end of they play, even though he also finds his death.

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