Posted: July 31st, 2015
The Greeks established many of the bones of storytelling, but Shakespeare takes drama to a new height. Although we may find Shakespearean language distant and difficult to our modern ear, the character of Hamlet is absolutely modern. The play is a revenge tragedy, and just as the Greeks identified hubris as “missing the mark” in a character, Hamlet’s character is similarly flawed.
A significant failing in both Greek and Elizabethan drama is the hero’s individual pride and ego, which causes him or her to pursue selfishly motivated goals at the expense of the needs of the society.
In a well-crafted essay of four to five pages, explore the character of Hamlet and compare Hamlet’s dilemma (his persona, to borrow a term from poetics) to a modern character from film. What is Hamlet’s flaw? Why does he miss the mark? What moral issues does Shakespeare explore? What is the role of revenge in Elizabethan society? What is the role of revenge in modern society? What happens when the individual pursues selfish goals at the expense of society? (T. S. Eliot’s “Hamlet and his problems” is easily found on the Internet and will help you formulate your own point of view.)
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