Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What role does the political situation play in Hamlet?

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Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The political situation is extremely important. Renaissance culture tended to be organized hierarchically. Those higher in the so-called "great chain of being" had a special obligation to behave virtuously; any immorality on their part could bring not only personal damnation but also political unrest (or worse) for the entire nation.  The fact that Claudius is such a corrupt and immoral king makes this play not only a personal tragedy for most of the major characters (especially Hamlet) but also a political tragedy for the Danish nation as well. The same selfishness and pride that have corrupted Claudius threaten the welfare of his people.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One part of the role played by the political situation is to add to the danger and suspense. During the time of the play, Denmark is not without enemy's. Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, smolders against Denmark because Hamlet 's father, the King of Denmark, killed his father, the King of Norway. This is definitely a political situation that adds intensity...

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