skip to main | skip to sidebar
Home » , » To what extend is Hamlet an unconventional revenge play?
Revenge tragedy is a kind of tragedy in which revenge, horror, murder, and other supernatural horrors, quests for revenge urged on by ghosts, suicides, and feigned or real insanity etc. are take place. The Elizabethan Age saw the introduction of a kind of tragedy called revenge tragedies. The features of the revenge tragedy are horror, revenge, blood-shedding, supernatural elements and murders etc. So, Hamlet as a revenge tragedy .Now let us try to prove how Hamlet is an unconventional revenge play.

In writing Hamlet, Shakespeare adopted the dramatic tradition of the revenge tragedy. Shakespeare's immediate predecessor was Thomas Kyd and the former followed him minutely. In his drama, the Prince of Denmark avenges the murder of his father, King Hamlet. The dominant theme in Shakespeare's Hamlet is revenge but it is not as ritualistic as we find in Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy.

An important feature of the "Revenge Tragedy" is the ghost of the dead which reveals the crime committed and the identity of the criminal and lays the duty of avenging the murder on some kinsmen. In Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark is urged by the ghost of the dead father, the former King, to take revenge upon Claudius. The Ghost imposes Hamlet the duty of avenging his father's death. Shakespeare's treatment of the revenge theme makes the work much more than a 'conventional Revenge Tragedy'. Like the conventional Revenge tragedy, we have violent, bloody and terrifying scenes which were very common to the conventional Revenge tragedies, for the time. For example, Polonius was murdered before our eyes; Ophelia goes mad, getting drowned before the audience. Even Claudias, Gertrude, Laertes and Hamlet are murdered on the stage.

Shakespeare handles the problem more carefully and the more refined manner than Kyd. Shakespeare delays the start of revenge plot very carefully until the end of Act I, when for the first time we came to know that crime has been committed and Hamlet is duty- loved to take the revenge. The language in the conventional Revenge tragedy is highly rhetorical. But in Hamlet, the language is refined and not so sensational as we find in The Spanish Tragedy. Matthew Arnold calls the style of Shakespeare's soliloquies as grand-style but it is not melodramatic like Kyd.

However, a conventional revenge tragedy is generally modelled on the Senecan tragedy. It is Seneca, the great tragic dramatist of ancient Rome, introduces horror elements in a revenge play. The revenge tragedy enjoyed great popularity in the 17th century. In the Elizabethan Age, and later on in the Jacobean Age it was very popular. We find several popular elements of a revenge tragedy Hamlet. But the play is an unconventional revenge tragedy without any doubt.


Anonymous said...

Very helpful ☺️

Post a Comment

Back To Top