There are a number of reasons why Shakespeare’s HAMLET is still read, performed and studied so many centuries after is was first written and produced: it is a brilliant work that provides unique insight into a somewhat tortured mind. Angst and confusion are hardly conditions that will ever be removed from human experience so HAMLET remains as relevant of a play today as it was when first created. The narrative of Hamlet deals with the Prince of Denmark seeking revenge on his uncle for the murder of his father.
While that is the plot that drives the narrative much of the play is made powerful by the subtext of a hero who is confused about his place in the world. This confusion is exacerbated by the loss of his father combined with his desire for revenge. Consider the following quote as an example of Hamlet’s tortured persona: Hamlet: (aside) A little more than kin, and less than kind. These few short words show Hamlet’s confusion regarding the realization that his own kin are not his friends and, in fact, may very well be his mortal enemy.
Clearly, this is not the type of life anyone would wish to live because it creates a paranoid world where even those who are supposed to be loved ones show no value and no support. That is the true tragedy of Hamlet: he may be a prince to a nation but in his own home is a stranger. To be one without a true family brings with it a tremendous cross to bear. That weighs heavily on Hamlet’s psyche and soul and is the true essence of tragedy.
Of course, there are many aspects to Hamlet’s tortured persona but this collapse of the family is among the most pronounced. In fact, it may be the one thing that creates the tortured psyche that Hamlet personifies.
Barnet, S. The Tragedy of Hamlet. New York: Signet, 1998. Jenkins, Harold. (1955) “The Relation Between the Second Quarto and the Folio Text of Hamlet. ” Retrieved 9 April 2008 from http://etext. lib. virginia. edu/etcbin/toccer- sb? id=sibv007&images=bsuva/sb/images&data=/texts/english/bibliog/SB&tag= public&part=5&division=div