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Hamlet Literature Review

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Shakespeare's Hamlet is one of the most widely celebrated works of literature in history. As one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies, the text has been pored over by high school students and literary critics alike. The story follows Hamlet, Prince of Denmark as he attempts to avenge the death of his father, who has been poisoned by the young prince's uncle-now-stepfather. The themes of insanity, indecision, death, and the role of women are interspersed throughout the play, and are used as frequent topics of discussion and debate.

A good part of Hamlet is focused on the prince's indecision towards action. The main storyline details Hamlet's thought process and (in)action upon learning the nature of his father's death. Hamlet's uncle "stole with juice of cursed hebona in a vial, and in the porches of [the King's] ears did pour," according to the late King's ghost, who gives Hamlet the command to "bear it not. Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damnйd incest" (Shakespeare 60). However, instead of carrying out this set of otherworldly orders directly, he sets up a faÐ*ade of descending madness as he contemplates his course of action. Critic Margreta de Grazia maintains that the extended drama is intentionally fashioned by Shakespeare to express a masterful "performance of thought - as inaction - as DELAY" (De Grazia). Her viewpoint is that as a thinker rather than a brash and impulsive man of action, the prince essentially becomes the only true substance of the play, as evidenced by the fact that a man with skull in hand is now the epitome and icon of dramatic and deep thought. De Grazia places great significance on the character Hamlet by detailing her thought process: "why does Hamlet delay...and - eureka! - you have the answer to Hamlet's character which is also the key to the entire play (for the play is his character)" (De Grazia). From an audience's point of view, the performance of Hamlet's deep thought could not have been written with a greater impact.

And of course, Hamlet would not be what he is without the impression on his character made by the women in his life. In our first encounter with the prince he reflects upon his mother's hasty remarriage, remarking "frailty, thy name is woman" (Shakespeare 45). Hamlet's cynicism regarding women seemingly stems from his mother's questionable



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