William Shakespeare’s Tragic Play “Hamlet”

Abstract

In his article, Adapting Shakespeare for Star Trek and Star Trek for Shakespeare: the Klingon Hamlet and the Spaces of Translation, Kazimierczak focuses on Shakespeare’s plays in the Klingon language, which is among the famous languages. However, he argues that most translation of the original texts or copies end up losing the meaning of the story or play. Therefore, the impact of unclear translation leads to alienation of the translator and the original text. Shakespeare scripts on Star Trek and Hamlet are clearly understood when translated into the Klingon language. All the political, social, and cultural beliefs in the plays are clear in this language. Therefore, for one to understand Shakespeare’s plays he/she should read them in the Klingon language.

On the other hand, Oakes his article, Hamlet and the Reformation the Prince of Denmark as “Young Man Luther”, asserts that Shakespeare literary work on Hamlet compares intellectually to works and speeches by Martin Luther King and St. Paul. He refers prince Hamlet as ‘young man Luther’ as he fights for reformation in the kingdom. Similarly, in the twentieth century, Martin Luther fought for reformation in the Christianity especially catholic and Protestants. The author says that recent criticism on Hamlet focuses on his delay in killing his uncle because of the Christian values he holds. This argument is similar to Pauline’s teaching in the New Testament about Christian values. Therefore, Shakespeare script Hamlet focuses on the reformation of the kingdom of England.

Summary

Written by William Shakespeare, Hamlet is a tragic play set during the reign of King Claudius in Denmark. The play is in five divisions each with a specific theme. Prince Hamlet is the main actor; he turns out to be vengeful against the King Claudius after realizing he murdered his father, the late King Hamlet. However, King Claudius discovers Hamlet plot and sets out to destroy him first. Although initially King Claudius seems successful, he ends up digging his own grave. Due to the continuous conflicts in the palace, the life of the royal members ends prematurely.

Act 1 introduces Horatio as the main character. Two guards: Barnado and Marcella believe to have seen the ghost of former late king Hamlet for the last two nights. When Horatio comes, they force and plead with him not to leave them alone because they are afraid of the ghost. Although Horatio doubts the guards, he decides to stay with them and experience the alleged bizarre incident. After a short time, the ghost appears and he confirms it as the late king because he had all his royal robes on before he unfortunately disappears. Luckily, the ghost reappears again and does not say a word but stares at Horatio, who decides to inform prince Hamlet about this disquieting occurrence. On the other hand, Claudius takes over kingship and marries Gertrude; Hamlet’s mother and takes over the kingdom.

When Prince Hamlet receives information about his late father’s appearance, he decides to stay overnight and face the ghost. Finally, the late king appears and leads Hamlet into the dark. Horatio and the guards fear about the fate of the prince and the ghost. The ghost reveals to Hamlet that King Claudius poisoned him (Hamlet’s father) hence requests him to avenge for that death. Claudius mission is to take over the kingdom and marry the queen, which he achieves but losses respect from his nephew. Therefore, Hamlet sets on a mission to revenge his father’s death by killing the king. However, Hamlet observes his father’s warning to keep away from the queen who doubles as Hamlet’s mother and wife for the dead man; the ghost.

In act II, Hamlet is full of anger and appears to lose sanity after his previous encounter with his father; the ghost. However, Ophelia assumes that he is madly in love with her, which leads to his peculiar actions. Polonius decides to inform the king about his nephew’s mysterious behavior. Therefore, Gertrude and Claudius decide to invite two of Hamlet’s friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to unravel the mystery behind his insanity. Stupidly, Hamlet’s friends confess that their invitation is by the queen to monitor and recover information about him.

When Polonius approaches Hamlet to ask him about his peculiar actions, he throws tantrums referring to him as a fishmonger. A theatrical group is in the kingdom to entertain the royal family. Hamlet designs a trap for King Claudius whereby the actors perform a play similar to his father’s death. The king’s reaction to the play will confirm whether he is the murderer or not. Fortunately, during the play Hamlet closely watches the king who appears uncomfortable hence his early departure from the theatre.

In act III, Hamlet’s behavior goes out of hand; Gertrude and Polonius decide to monitor him. However, Hamlet turns out to hate women to extend of referring to them as breeder of sinners because of his mother’s betrayal to his father. Additionally, he confesses he has no love for Ophelia yet Polonius assumes he is madly in love with his daughter. Due to the play, King Claudius suspects Hamlet’s dangerous actions. He decides to send Hamlet together with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to England. On the same night, Hamlet’s secretly creeps into Claudius chambers to kill him but finds him in deep prayer, which forces him to abandon his killing mission. He asserts that Claudius is confessing his sins and therefore when he dies he will go straight to heaven.

Hamlet’s mother summons him but an argument breaks out between them accusing her of betrayal and sinful act by marrying Claudius. Unfortunately, on the same night Polonius meets his death when he is eavesdropping Hamlet’s confrontation with his mother. Hamlet stabs Polonius thinking it is Claudius. The late king again reappears to Hamlet reminding him of his mission for he has delayed to fulfill it. Gertrude watches as his son converses with the unseen ghost. Hamlet drags Polonius body out of his mother’s chamber without coming to agreement.

In the IV act, King Claudius is so furious with the sudden death of Polonius and plans Hamlet’s disappearance as the only way to solve the issue. Claudius decides to defend Hamlet’s action before the court as a cover up scheme to conceal his plans of killing Hamlet. The king puts Hamlet under heavy guard because he presumes he is the target. At the same time, Hamlet hides Polonius’ body and refuses to discuss anything with either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern accusing them of beings spies. After sometime, he discloses where he had put the corpse. On his way to England, Hamlet learns of the war ahead and swears to live by the sword.

Ironically, he is to die during the journey to England but it is during this occasion that he asserts bloody mission to kill Claudius. In the palace, Laertes and Ophelia mourn the death of their father; Laertes gathers a mob to help him revenge his father’s death. On their way to England, Hamlet mischievously escapes from the ship leaving his friends to perish. He decides to reside by the upcountry but sends the king and queen a message about his come back. The message turns the king restless and plans to poison Hamlet’s drink as away to get him out of his way.

In the final act (Act V), due to the death of Polonius, Ophelia takes away her own life. Incidentally, Hamlet arrives with Horatio when the digging of grave is underway. According to the Christian rules, the priest does not honor Ophelia’s death because she had committed suicide. Hamlet confides in Horatio about his mission to kill Claudius after Claudius make sit clear he wants to execute Hamlet. Furthermore, he tells Horatio that Claudius murdered his father due to jealousy and greed. When he realizes Ophelia is dead, he mourns loudly causing tantrums again. He shouts about his undying love for Ophelia and the pain he is experiencing due to her death. Hamlet’s actions again raise questions about his sanity and the queen decides to continue monitoring him.

Laertes and Hamlet decide to settle their scores through battle but Laerte dies. However, the king seems to be ahead and decides to poison Hamlet’s wine. Unfortunately, the queen takes the poisonous wine meant for Hamlet, which leads to her sudden death. Out of fury, Hamlet takes a poisonous sword and stabs Claudius forcing him to gallop the remaining poisonous wine. Unluckily, Hamlet also dies due to the effect of the poisonous sword. Coincidentally, the news about the death of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive in the palace. Although they betray Hamlet, they are executed according to King’s command.

Key Conflict figures

There are different conflicts among the key figures in the play. Prince Hamlet has a conflict with King Claudius for killing his father and marrying his mother. Therefore, Hamlet kills his uncle to retaliate his father’s death. Moreover, Hamlet has a misunderstanding with his mother for betraying his father by marring Claudius. Additionally, Hamlet dislikes women and sees them as sinners. Similarly, Laertes has a conflict with Hamlet for killing his father, Polonius, and the conflict leads to Ophelia’s death. The two decide to fight in order to settle their conflict as per the King’s wish but Laertes dies during the battle. Similarly, King Claudius suspects Hamlet’s dangerous mission and plans for his death by poisoning his sword and wine.

Ironically, the poisonous wine kills the queen. Additionally, Hamlet stabs the king with the poisonous sword. However, due to the impact of the sword during his fight with Laertes, Hamlet succumbs to the injuries. Before his death, Hamlet declares Fortinbras as the king of Denmark. Horatio decide to give Hamlet an honorary burial as a soldier. Therefore, due to the conflicts in the castle the play ends with death of the key characters one after the other.

Works cited

Kazimierczak, Karolina. Adapting Shakespeare for Star Trek and Star Trek for Shakespeare: The Klingon Hamlet and the Spaces of Translation, 2010. Web.

Oakes, Edward. Hamlet and the Reformation: The Prince of Denmark as “Young Man Luther.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture is the property of Logos 13.1 (2010): 53-78.

Shakespeare, Williams. “Hamlet.” The Literature Network, 2011. Web.