Shakespeare was essentially a member of a theater company and wrote his scripts for box office. So he had the needs of Elizabethan audience upper most on his mind when he chose a plot, devised action on the stage and composed a poetic speech. The beautiful soliloquies (4. 4. 32-66, for example) in Hamlet were written for the audience “whose ears must have been delicately trained and quick to appreciate fine language… an audience made up for the most part of eager and attentive listeners, generous with their applause, though equally ready to hiss and mew their disapproval.
” (Halliday. 43) So the poetry-loving Elizabethan audience becomes the cause and the refined soliloquies, poetic speeches are the effect. Hamlet expresses his self-pity for an incorrigible procrastinating habit. Though after the exposure of Claudius at the performance of The Murder of Gonjago the situation is ripe for revenge, Hamlet hesitates to act. He only blames himself, being unable to “spur my dull revenge” and “looking before and after, gave us not/ that capability and god-like reason” (4.
4. 37-38) He mocks his inaction as “bestial oblivion…. one part wisdom/ And ever three parts coward. ” (4. 4. 43) As self-examination yields no result, he wonders at his incapacity: “why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do’; Sith I have cause and will and strength and means to do’t. ” ( 4. 4. 44-46 ) Still having no clue, he further battles with his conscience and persuades himself that it is time not for prolonged deliberation, but “greatly to find quarrel in a straw/ when honor’s at the stake.
How stand I then,/ that have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d ”(4. 4. 55-57) This prolonged reflection is, however, is crowned by his decision to act: “O! from this time forth, / My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! ”(4. 4. 65-66) A large part of his ignorant, ill-smelling, and bawdy audience must have been entertained by this firm resolve to fight. there is a relationship between dramatic works and their target audience.
The social, cultural, and economic values and perspectives of the audience do also influence the themes and interpretations of a text, however. Select one speech from Act IV and write a cause and effect essay for how it targets its audience. You may choose a target audience of any context or production of the play – the original Elizabethan, or a later dramatic version
Craig, W. J. (ed. ) Shakespeare: Complete Works. London. O. U. P. 1974 Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion. Harmondsworth. Penguin. 1964