Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What was the political situation when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet?  Did the political situation have any relationship with the plot of Hamlet?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The political situation in England was certainly very fraught at the time that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. Queen Elizabeth I was coming towards the end of her long, illustrious reign, and thoughts inevitably turned towards her succession. In writing Hamlet, Shakespeare wanted, among other things, to warn his fellow countrymen of the dangers of a sudden, violent handover of power. Claudius's murder of King Hamlet hasn't just introduced an element of instability into the kingdom of Denmark, it has also corrupted the very life of the nation. Even the very air that Hamlet breathes appears to be nothing but "a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours."

Shakespeare, then, is at pains to stress the necessity of a peaceful transition from the present monarch to the next. Otherwise, there is the very real danger that if the necessary stability is not to come from within the kingdom, it will be imposed from without, as happens at the end of Hamlet with the arrival of young Fortinbras from Norway.

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