A paper which explores Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ in light of its original audience.
The paper shows that because literary critics and historians have discussed Hamlet so often, it is easy to forget that Shakespeare wrote his tragedy as a play to be performed in the context of an Elizabethan production, to an Elizabethan audience. The author points out that it is a refreshing antidote to consider Hamlet in light of its original audience, instead of some of the more modern textual analysis of this performed text, which views the central character as a kind of an early existentialist.
Stephen Greenblatt’s book Hamlet in Purgatory attempts to accomplish this. Greenblatt advances the theory that Hamlet, rather than simply being a tragedy about a man who could not make up his mind, is really about a man wrestling with the shifting religious climate of early Protestant England, a country still in great religious flux.
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