1 Zuzil

Act 3 Scene 4 Hamlet Essays

Show More

The Dramatic Significance of Act 3 Scene 4 in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Hamlet is known to be the most popular play written by Shakespeare. It is also, by a significant margin, the longest of Shakespeare's plays. It has been translated to many languages and has become the subject of excited and critical debate more than any other work of literature.

The play was written around 1602 or 1603 at a period of time when Elizabethan London was a melting pot of unprecedented intellectual and artistic ferment. In Elizabethan England the conviction that retaliation for murder was solely the prerogative of the state and its legal institutions clashed with an irrational but powerful feeling that private…show more content…

He must also have been familiar with a considerable body of literature, much of it dramatic, in which revenge was a central preoccupation and motif.

Chronologically the first of what it has become customary to refer to as Shakespeare's 'great tragedies', Hamlet must have been written shortly after Julius Caesar (1599), another if very different revenge play. At tow moments in Hamlet the killing of Caesar is remembered. Julius Caesar had contained a vengeful ghost. It also adumbrated, existing between Caesar and his protégé Brutus, a troubled father-son relationship which, for some reason, seems to have occupied Shakespeare's imagination to a considerable extent around the turn of the century. Hamlet complicates the motif by directing attention to three linked father-and-son pairs: old Hamle6t and the prince who has inherited his name but not his kingdom, old Fortinbras and a son whose situation parallels that of Hamlet but whose character is very different, Polonius and Laertes. All three fathers die by violence. All three sons feel it incumbent upon them to exact a revenge, but the response of each to his task is wholly individual.

Hamlet is universally popular because the central character is somebody to whom few people can feel indifferent. The audience can identify with Hamlet as a kind of spokesman for their own experience of

HAMLET How is it with you, lady?

QUEEN Alas, how is ’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse? 135
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper 140
Sprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?

On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares.
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. To the Ghost. Do not
look upon me, 145
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects. Then what I have to do
Will want true color—tears perchance for blood.

QUEEN To whom do you speak this?

HAMLET Do you see nothing there? 150

Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.

HAMLET Nor did you nothing hear?

QUEEN No, nothing but ourselves.

Why, look you there, look how it steals away!
My father, in his habit as he lived! 155
Look where he goes even now out at the portal!

Ghost exits.

So Hamlet turns to his mom and says, "How's it going?" Um, not well, Gertrude tells him. She asks what he's looking at and who he's talking to. Hamlet is shocked to realize that she can't hear or see the ghost. Last time, remember, all his buddies saw the ghost, too. So what's going on here? Gertrude clearly thinks Hamlet's lost it, but what do you think? Did the ghost choose only to appear to Hamlet this time? Whatever the case, the ghost leaves.

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *