An Analysis of Hamlet’s Tragic Image
Abstract: Hamlet has been a controversial character in the world of literature. The reasons of his
tragic image have been being argued by schola
rs and critics for centuries. Although there are many authoritative comments on this issue, there is still not a satisfying one. Thus this thesis aims to give an analysis on Hamlet?s tragic image in a more comprehensive way on the purpose to gain some access to better understanding of Hamlet. This thesis firstly displays the features of Hamlet?s tragic image, and then analyzes the reasons of Hamlet?s tragic image in the light of both objective reasons and subjective reasons. And finally it draws a conclusion that Hamlet?s tragic image is caused by many aspects, but not simply because of the weakness of his own personality or the environment that he lives in.
Key words: Hamlet; tragic image; reason
摘 要：哈姆雷特这一形象历来是一个很有争议的人物, 形成他悲剧形象的原因更是被众
说纷纭。虽然有很多关于这方面的权威性的评论。但是至今都没有一个令人满意的评论。所 以,为了达到更深入了解莎士比亚作品的目的，这篇文章试图从更全面的观点来剖析哈姆雷 特这一悲剧形象。 这篇论文首先分析了哈姆雷特悲剧形象的特征表现，然后从客观和主观两大方面， 对 哈姆雷特这一悲剧形象进行剖析。从而得出结论，哈姆雷特的悲剧形象的形成是由多方面共 同作用形成的, 而不是由于单方面的性格特点或者他所处的社会环境造成的。
CONTENTS Introduction................................................................................................ 1 1. The General Idea of Hamlet .................................................................. 1 2. The Features of Hamlet’s Tragic Image .............................................. 3
2.1 Humanism of Hamlet ............................................................................................ 3 2.2 Complex Characteristic of Hamlet ........................................................................ 4 2.3 Delay in Action ..................................................................................................... 4 2.4 Tragic End of Hamlet ............................................................................................ 5
3. Reasons of Hamlet’s Tragic Image ....................................................... 5
3.1 Subjective Reasons................................................................................................ 5 3.1.1 Weakness of Personality ................................................................................. 5 3.1.2 Isolation from Possible Forces ....................................................................... 7 3.1.3 Religious Superstition of Hamlet ................................................................. 10 3.1.4 Oedipus Complex of Hamlet ........................................................................ 10 3.2 Objective Reasons ................................................................................................11 3.2.1 Social Status of Hamlet ................................................................................ 12 3.2.3 Social Reality ................................................................................................ 14 3.2.3 Limitation of Shakespeare ............................................................................ 15
4. Conclusion ............................................................................................ 17 Bibliography ............................................................................................. 18
Shakespeare is considered by most to be the greatest writer of all time, and Hamlet is without question Shakespeare?s greatest tragedy. Hamlet is a brilliant play and a masterpiece; it is certainly one of the cornerstones of English literature. There are so many immortal phrases and lines in this play, the most famous being “to be or not to be”. At any rate, Hamlet is one of the most famous of works of Shakespeare. More has been written about the character Hamlet than any other figures in history, except Christ, so little can be added some four hundred years after it was written. Hamlet is the most complex one of Shakespeare?s plays. Many of the themes covered are love versus hate, action versus non-action, revenge, and jealousy. And the argument on Hamlet?s tragic image is among the hottest topics. Such as character criticism by the Romantics and A. C. Bradley, Freudian psychoanalysis, Bakhtin?s carnival theory, feminist criticism and so on. Although there are many authoritative comments on this issue, there is not a satisfying one. Thus this thesis aims to give an analysis on Hamlet?s tragic image in a more comprehensive way on the purpose to gain some access to better understanding of Shakespeare?s playwriting, as well as his special plays. First, we will offer the general idea of Hamlet. Then, we will display some features of Hamlet?s tragic image in a tragic perspective. And after that, we will analysis in detail on the cause of Hamlet?s tragic image. And finally we will draw a conclusion on the social meaning of Hamlet?s tragic image.
1. The General Idea of Hamlet
Hamlet tells a story about the Denmark prince Hamlet?s revenge plan. Hamlet?s father died two months before the story begins. His father was King of Denmark and Hamlet was his only son. The king died a strange death while he was sleeping in the garden of his castle. It was believed that he had been bitten to death by a poisonous snake. He was such a wise and kind king that he was loved by all the people in the
nation. His son, Hamlet, of course, loved him far more than anyone else in the world. Hamlet was so sad and sorrowful that he never stopped wearing black clothes. There was something else which made Hamlet even sadder. His mother, Gertrude, married Hamlet?s uncle, Claudius, who was a brother of the late king. After Hamlet?s father died, Claudius became King of Denmark and married Gertrude. Young Hamlet did not like him because he was not as wise and kind as his father. He was a man of unkindly character. Hamlet did not in the least want his mother to marry such a man. He became angry with both of them and came to despise his mother as well as his uncle. The bell of the castle was ringing. It was exactly midnight. Suddenly a ghost in the form of the late king appeared in the darkness. It looked pale and sad. Looking at the ghost, the two guards of the castle and Horatio, Hamlet?s best friend, were surprised and terrified. They wondered if something bad was going to happen in Denmark. They decided to tell their prince what they had seen .The next day they went to Hamlet and told him that they had seen the ghost of King Hamlet. Hamlet doubted it at first, but wanted to make sure himself. He asked them to take him to see the ghost that night. They agreed. Late at night, Hamlet, Horatio and one of the guards went to the top of the walls. It was very cold and dark there. Some time after they got there, the ghost in armor suddenly appeared out of the darkness. As his friends had told him, Hamlet saw that the ghost was exactly like his dead father. He called out, “King, Father! Why did you come here out of the grave?” The ghost did not answer him, but looked at him sadly and made a sign for him to follow. His friends did not want to let Hamlet follow the ghost because they thought it might be an evil spirit and do something bad to him. But he did follow the ghost. While Hamlet and the ghost walked away into the darkness, his friends had to wait anxiously there worrying about his safe return. At the end of the walls of the castle the ghost stopped and began to talk to Hamlet, “I am the ghost of your father. I wanted to rule Denmark peacefully until you grew up and became king after me. But two months ago, while I was sleeping in the beautiful garden of he castle, my brother Claudius
came and put poison into my ear. I was instantly killed. Hamlet! Be brave and kill him for me. But never kill or hurt my wife, for she is your mother. Let her repent for what she has done. That is enough for her. What I have told you is true. I tell you again. I was not killed by a poisonous snake, but by my brother Claudius. Never forget what I have told you, my dear son. Good-bye, Hamlet!” Then the ghost disappeared into the mist of the dark sky. Upon hearing this, Hamlet became excited and was even more furious with Claudius and his mother. He made up his mind to kill his uncle and let his mother repent for her sins. Hamlet has to take on the responsibility of revenge and restores the whole nation. The society is corruptive from the high social class to the low social class. Apart from the above his own power is not strong enough to fight against the enemy and rescue the whole nation. Due to these reasons, his spiritual struggle is deduced from his plan of revenge. Then he becomes very melancholy, hesitant and indecisive and finally died as a tragic hero. Thus Hamlet was considered as a tragic image.
2. The Features of Hamlet’s Tragic Image
2.1 Humanism of Hamlet The leading actor Hamlet is the image of a humanist in the later term of Renaissance. He considers human being as a “great creature! They have dignity logos! They have great strength! They have elegancy appearance! They are like an angel in action. They are like deity in theirs wisdom.” When he was young he lived in the opening emperor palace, he obtained a kind of humanism education and had a great ideal. Suddenly, his father died, soon his mother remarried new king—— and the king was his uncle. This fact made him even more headache. New king told him his father died because of the bite by a snake when his father slept in the garden. But the prince doubted what his uncle said and felt puzzled, then one day, ghost of his father came out and told him the “snake” was just the new king and asked him to avenge for him. The prince is a humanist, he thought that avenge was a whole social problem. He said he had the obligation to remove the world, but he could not find the exact ways to solve
this problem. 2.2 Complex Characteristic of Hamlet The characteristic of Hamlet is so complex. Hamlet exhibits a combination of good and bad points. Being a complex character, he displays a variety of characteristics throughout the play?s development. Sometimes he is a human and sensitive hero, at other times he is melodramatically violent, cold-bloodedly callous, or even gleefully blood thirsty, both in word and deed. At first everyone sees Hamlet as a sensitive young prince who is mourning the death of his father, the King. In addition, his mother?s immediate marriage to his uncle has left him in even greater despair. The combination of these emotions leaves one feeling sympathetic to Hamlet. Then he becomes a very “human” character. One sees from the very beginning that he is a very complex and conflicted man, and that his tragedy has already begun. Hamlet?s anger and grief, which primarily stemmed from his mother?s marriage to Claudius bring him to the thoughts of suicide, which only subsides as a result of it being a mortal and religious sin. The fact that he wants to take his own life demonstrates a weakness in his character. His decision not to kill himself because of religious beliefs shows that this weakness is balanced with some sense of morality. Such an obvious paradox is only one example of the inner conflict and turmoil that will eventually lead to Hamlet?s downfall. 2.3 Delay in Action Hamlet has the intellectual ways of thinking, when knowing the fact; his first reaction is not to follow his father?s requirement to take the revenge into action but to set down the evils to his tables. Hamlet?s mind is so questioning and contemplative that in the following course of revenge, he has a repeated mediation upon the crime of his uncle, thus perceives something rotten in the state affairs. Hamlet has some superstition factors, for he thinks that if he kills Claudius now, he would send his soul to heaven; and he would kill soul as well as body. That he misses the best chance to kill his uncle and his delay in action finally leads to the hardness on his revenge.
2.4 Tragic End of Hamlet Hamlet went to play foils with Laertes. When he saw Laertes, Hamlet volunteered to ask Laertes to forgive him. The king prepared the poisoned wine for Hamlet, but unfortunately it killed Hamlet?s mother, the queen. At the same time, Hamlet?s poisoned foil hurt Laertes, and then Laertes died as well. Hamlet finally knew all these are his uncle?s traps and killed the king decisively. And at last four people all died. But he himself was died as well. That is a manifestation of Hamlet?s Tragic Image either.
3. Reasons of Hamlet’s Tragic Image
3.1 Subjective Reasons The character somehow decides the fate. This is a verity. Hamlet?s tragic character indicates his tragic fate from the start. Under the pressure of his characteristic, he was tormented by his revenge. Revenge became the only thing that he wanted to do now. All these lead to his indifference to his mother, turning a blind eye to his lover, killing his lover?s father by himself, falling into the trap set by the personal enemies. Finally, his desire of revenge comes true, but all the beautiful things are broken down. So Hamlet?s personal reason is the main subjective reason that leads to his tragic image. So subjective reason for Hamlet?s tragic image can be analyzed as follows: 3.1.1 Weakness of Personality As we learn from the drama, melancholy is the important personality of Hamlet. The play opens with Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, appearing in a mood of melancholy occasioned by his father?s recent death and by his mother?s hasty remarriage with Claudius. That seems to be the direct reason results in his melancholy. So he doubts everything around him, which is the hypocritical of human nature and inconstancy of human relationship. This can be reflected in the conversation between Hamlet and his mother. QUEEN If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee? HAMLET Seems, madam, Nay, it is. I know not ?seems?. Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forc?d breath, No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, Nor the dejected havior of the visage, Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, That can denote me truly. These indeed seem, For they are actions that a man might play; But I have that within which passeth showThese but the trappings and the suits of woe. (Act I/ Scene II) The conversation shows Hamlet?s realism and humanism. It makes him against the imperial court. Besides, Hamlet?s hesitation and indecision in carrying out his task of revenge is also obvious. He even appears to be shrank and slow sometimes. He has several good chances to kill Claudius but he just lets them slip by. Sometimes, when he fails to make good use of a chance, he has to find some excuses for his inaction to comfort his guilty conscience. For instance, on his way to his mother?s chamber when the play show ends, he meets the king praying, he could have drawn out his sword and killed the king on the spot. But he fails again on the pretext that he might send the king to heaven if he kills him then because the king is praying at that moment. Often he reproaches himself bitterly for the neglect of his duty. He even asks himself in genuine bewilderment, “what should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? Do I linger? Can the cause be cowardice? What is it that makes me sit idle when I feel it is shameful to do so, and when I have cause, and will, and strength, and means to act?” Why did Hamlet not obey the ghost at once, and save seven of those eight lives? If he had been Laertes or Fortinbras, he would have accomplished his task in a day, yet
Hamlet is not Laertes or Fortinbras. Therefore, his revenge becomes a complex mental striving. Melancholy, hesitation as well as indecision becomes main personal reasons that lead to his tragic image. Because of these characteristics, Hamlet delays his revenge. His characteristics also determine his tragic image. 3.1.2 Isolation from Possible Forces Hamlet doesn?t realize the importance of uniting all the possible forces in the process of usurping. Apart from his close friend Horatio, he has no other alliance. Some neutral forces that should be united are pushed into the opposite side by his arrogance and indignity. Struggling single is doomed to failure. First, take Polonius for example. Ophelia, daughter of Polonius, who have the passions toward Hamlet, praises him as, “O, what a noble mind is here overthrown! The courtier?s, soldier?s, scholar?s, eye, tongue, sword; The expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mould of form, The observed of all observers, quite, quite down! ” (Act III / Scene I) But Hamlet hurt Ophelia?s feelings cruelly and killed his father Polonius which loses a good supporting force. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the former schoolfellows and “excellent good friends” (Act II / Scene II) of Hamlet, are spying on him under the order of the king. Hamlet perceives their intention at the very beginning, “Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks, but I thank you, and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak. I know the good king and queen have sent for you.”(Act II / Scene II) At that time, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have not totally disgraced, for they can feel the sorrow and melancholy of the prince from his words “Denmark is a prison. Denmark is being of the worst.” (Act II / Scene II)
If Hamlet persuaded them to help him, maybe he could build his own forces gradually, but instead of making good use of them, Hamlet satires them bitterly, “Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Yet you cannot play upon me.”(Act III/ Scene II) Later on, Hamlet satires them bitterly for taking them as sponge when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are spying on the inner side of him. ROSENCRANTZ What have you done, my lord, with the dead body? HAMLET Compounded it with dust, whereto ?tis kin. ROSENCRANTZ Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence and bear it to the chapel. HAMLET Do not believe it. ROSENCRANTZ Believe what? HAMLET That I can keep your counsel and not mine own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by the son of a king? ROSENCRANTZ Take you me for a sponge, my lord? HAMLET Ay, sir; that soaks up the King's countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the King best service in the end. He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed, to be last Swallowed. When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again. (Act IV / Scene II)
We can learn from the above conversation that instead of making good use of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet satires them bitterly. So he loses another good supporting force, either. Some critics comment that Hamlet doesn?t have better chance to defeat Claudius. Do things really go like that? Reading the drama, it can be easily found that there do be many people who are against Claudius. The grievance of the common people is a good example. Laertes comes with a crowd of city plebeians to ask the king for his father?s revenge, and they cry: “Choose we! Laertes shall be king!”(Act V / Scene V) Since Laertes can gain support from the masses, not to mention Hamlet. Formidable political forces must support Hamlet, the lawful successor to the throne, who holds a higher social position and more popularity by the people. To the fact is that, as a scholar prince, he just misses such a good chance which was made good use of by Claudius who succeeded in transferring the grievance of Laertes to Hamlet. KING CLAUDIUS Good Laertes, if you desire to know the certainty of your dear father?s death, you will draw friend and foe, Winner and loser? LAERTES None but his enemies. KING CLAUDIUS So you shall; and where the offence is let the great axe fall. I pray you, go with me.”(Act IV / Scene IV) Compared with Hamlet, Claudius is a real politician who can handle with the crisis easily and make good use of Laertes. From the analysis above, it can be concluded that though being progressive in thinking, Hamlet lacks political strategy and supporting forces, so in such a rotten court, being isolated from possible force, Hamlet?s struggling against the dark forces
alone is bound to defeat. That?s also one of the reasons that lead to Hamlet?s tragic image. 3.1.3 Religious Superstition of Hamlet Hamlet, even Shakespeare lives in the early period of the Renaissance when was not long after the transition from the European medieval ages. Christianity has very great influence on people. Hamlet certainly believed that most people would go to hell after death, and he thought what the ghost described about the hell was true. So on one hand, Hamlet who could not bear the dark reality wanted to oppose his uncle, on the other hand, he was afraid of failure. Failure meant death, yet death was not what he was afraid. But where should he go after death, to heaven, or to hell? This made him hesitate. In his opinion, according to Christian idea, a person who died while praying would go to heaven, even if he were a villain. So while he saw his uncle praying, he did not take action but idle between reality and ideal. To sum up Hamlet?s tragic image cannot be simply described as just his personal tragic or the social tragic. There are many aspects. 3.1.4 Oedipus Complex of Hamlet Hamlet?s Oedipus Complex is the initial factor of his tragedy. Oedipus Complex is a group or collection of unconscious wishes, feelings and ideas focusing on the desire to “possess” the opposite-sexed parent. And “eliminate” the same-sexed parent. In the traditional Freudian view, the Oedipal stage, which corresponds roughly to the ages 3 to 5, and is characterized as a universal component of development irrespective of culture. The complex is assumed to become partly resolved, within this classical view, through the child making an appropriate identification with the same-sexed parent, with full resolution theoretically achieved when the opposite-sexed parent is “rediscovered” in a mature, adult sexual object. Here, I want to analyze the Oedipus Complex of Hamlet. I think as a child Hamlet has experienced the warmest affection for his mother, and this, as is always so, had contained the elements of a disguised erotic quality. The presence of two traits in the
Queen?s character according with this assumption, named her markedly sensual nature and her passionate fondness for her son. Nevertheless Hamlet appears to have with more or less success weaned himself from her and to have fallen in love with Ophelia. The precise nature of his original feeling for Ophelia is a little obscure. Maybe he unconsciously seeks his mother?s image from Ophelia. Ophelia?s many traits of resemblance to the Queen, perhaps just as striking, are the traits contrasting with those of the Queen. There are indications that even here the influence of the old attraction for the mother is still exerting on him. But his father?s death and his mother?s second marriage, buried his happiness. Natural desire can no longer be concealed from his consciousness. Feelings which once, in the infancy of so long ago, are pleasurable memories. But now, because of his resentment, only fills him with repulsion. The long “repressed” desire to take his father?s place in his mother?s affection is stimulated to unconscious activity by the sight of someone usurping this place exactly as he had once longed to do. Without his being in the least aware of it these ancient desires are ringing in his mind, are once more struggling to find conscious expression, and need such an expenditure of energy to again “repress” them that he is reduced to the deplorable mental state he himself so vividly depicts. At last, he transits all these conflicted feelings to revenge of the usurping Claudius. He unconsciously walks toward to the prophetic tragedy fate step by step. So in my opinion, Hamlet?s Oedipus Complex is the initial factor that leads to Hamlet?s tragic image. To sums up, because of these personalities of Hamlet himself, Hamlet?s revenge toward the king is delayed, and his personal reasons are subjective reasons leading to his tragic image. 3.2 Objective Reasons Hamlet is full of grand ideas and intentions, but he fails to act and to carry out the deed the destruction of Claudius. There are some objective reasons
3.2.1 Social Status of Hamlet Hamlet was specially born a noble, prince of Denmark, so Hamlet?s social status determines that everything is connected in Hamlet, including the welfare of the royal family and the health of the state as a whole. The play?s early scenes explore the sense of anxiety and dreadness that surrounds the transfer of power from one ruler to the next. Throughout the play, characters draw explicit connections between the moral legitimacy of a ruler and the health of the nation. Denmark is frequently described as a physical body made ill by the moral corruption of Claudius and Gertrude, and many observers interpret the presence of the ghost as a supernatural omen indicating that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (I.iv.67). The dead King Hamlet is portrayed as a strong, forthright ruler, under whose guard the state was in good health, while Claudius, a wicked politician, has corrupted and compromised Denmark to satisfy his own appetites. So as a prince of the country, Hamlet not only has to revenge for his father but also has his responsibility for the country to corrupt down the evil power. As the prince of the country, Hamlet has his responsibilities for the country, and Hamlet gives up several times to kill the king for that. And Hamlet has his own reasons for his inaction. HAMLET Now might I do it pat, now he is praying? And now I?ll do it. And so he goes to heaven, And so am I revenged. That would be scanned. A villain kills my father; and for that, To heaven. Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge! He took my father grossly, full of bread, With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May; And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven? But in our circumstance and course of thought,
?Tis heavy with him; and am I then revenged, To take him in the purging of his soul, When he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No. Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent. When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage; Or in th? incestuous pleasure of his bed; At gaming, swearing, or about some act That has no relish of salvation in?tThen trip him that his heels may kick at heaven And that his soul may be as damn?d and black As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays. This physic but prolongs thy sickly days. (Act III / Scene III) As a result, he misses the golden opportunity to take the revenge. Being a prince of Denmark, Hamlet?s love for the country affects his action. Hamlet has to be cautious and careful when taking his action, he must know clearly about the facts, since his rival, the king, is so fierce and dangerous, and a king is representative of the country, the people and the rights. At that time, being against the king is unmoral and unacceptable to the ideology of humanists. So he must prove the ghost?s word. In order to prove why his father died, he conceives and arranges a play scene before the King and the Queen. The play is almost the same as the actual murder of his father. His uncle?s motions being aroused, he looks nervous and shows every sign of fear as he watched the play. He cries out “give me some light. Away!” He gets up quickly and leaves the performance during the murder scene. When the player has spoken only six lines on the stage, the King starts to his feet and rushes out of the hall. At the moment, Hamlet is beyond himself with joy because his device proves what he has been told by the ghost is true. Things are quite clear now. Hamlet has seen enough to be sure that the ghost had spoken truly and that the murder had been done. Claudius crime is revealed to himself.
This confirms that his father was really murdered by Claudius. Now he knows that it is his duty to revenge for his father. His determination of revenge couldn?t be delayed any longer. But he is only satisfied with learning the truth and does nothing. After the performance, he says in his soliloquy. “Tis now the very witching time of night. Now could I drink hot blood? And do such bitter business as the day Would quake to look on.” (Act III / Scene III) It seems that he is about to take action, but he does not. Instead, he scans and gives up the revenging opportunity. Indeed what he really shrinks from is the responsibility of premeditating murdering of a King and its political result, because at that time the abrupt death of the king might cause panic to the people and danger to the state. So what he considers now is no longer his personal revenge but the fate of the country. This makes him take the situation as a whole into consideration. So he must delay his action. Thus, being a prince is an invisible heavy burden to Hamlet?s boundless suffering. He has a clear sense of the society, so he realizes that his uncle?s death can?t solve all the problems. He knows clearly in his mind that his responsibility is to save the whole country. In front of such a situation Hamlet was so much suffered from the difficulty. So he became melancholy, hesitating and indecisive, so Hamlet?s social status is also a very important reason that leads to his tragic image. 3.2.3 Social Reality In the later of Renaissance, the central state power was very stable. The King charged the system of government. Meanwhile, he abandoned the capitalist class, arbitrarily and dictatorially, he forcibly occupied all the benefit; in political, he went against the progressive measure, then the feudal force had the chance to state a comeback, and all the country was filled with foul, each trying to cheat the other. Under such background, the capital humanists were angry at it. All the ordinary people
even could not bear the exploitation coming from the feudal and original accumulation, but they could do nothing to help themselves. Such phenomenon was just about which happened before the bourgeoisie revolutionary in 1645. Humanists had the thought to remove the unforgivable King and reverse the situation, but they fell into hesitation, because the responsibility for them was hard to complete. Taking the court of Denmark in the Middle Ages for the background, according to the story of Hamlet?s revenge for his father?s death, Hamlet describes the truth England and the Europe society in the later Renaissance. It reveals the author?s self-questioning on Renaissance movement and his carelessness on people?s life and future. The Renaissance promotes Europe into the time awakening human beings. People?s belief to God began to shake, under the flag of “personality liberation”; it was the custom to do what you like to. For one side, people?s thought liberated, which promoted the development of the social civilization. In the other side, especially in the later of Renaissance, it was full of overflow of selfish desire and social?s confusion. Encountering such an enthusiasm and confusing time, instead of the optimistic and romantic brought by the humanism, Shakespeare shows us the hidden danger which hided in the ideal and progress. It is destined to fail for humanists. Hamlet is the reflection of such social phenomena. So Hamlet was written as a tragic image of humanist. 3.2.3 Limitation of Shakespeare Hamlet, written in 1600-1601, was over a time when storm clouds gathered, the co-operation between the Crown and the rising bourgeoisie, which was the basis of the Elizabeth?s regime. Shakespeare is based on a system of institutionalized social inequality, which pervaded all aspects of social life; Elizabeth inherited the English throne at a time of political economic chaos. The English reformation had forced the country into a comparatively isolated position in Europe, and at home the religious upheavals had taken their toll on the nation?s stability. Wars against France, which began in Mary?s reign, had devastated the economy and let loose a further round of inflation. The personal interests of the powerful individual noblemen continually
compromised the theoretically supreme power of the monarch. And these noblemen constituted her aristocracy, and at times, presented a very real danger to the crown. Throughout the Tudor times, there were always threats of aristocratic rebellion. The Northern Rebellion of 1579-70 was the last of the great aristocratic rebellions. And the economic and social crisis, which began at the end of Elizabeth?s reign continued right up to the English Revolution (1640). It was in this atmosphere of general unrest that Shakespeare created his great tragedy Hamlet. Therefore, there are great similarities between Hamlet and Shakespeare. Shakespeare, just like Hamlet, can see through the social contradictions of the time with his unique penetrations; while, as Hamlet too, Shakespeare cannot find the way to solve these problems. First, Hamlet never thought of usurping the power by force; Shakespeare too, did not go all the way against the feudal rule. Shakespeare, as a humanist of the time, was shocked by the feudal tyranny and disunity and internal struggle for power at the court which led to civil wars. In his plays, he does not hesitate to describe the cruelty and anti-natural character of the civil wars, but he did not go all the way against the feudal rule. In his dramatic creation, especially in his histories or tragedies, he affirms the importance of the feudal system in order to uphold social order. “The King?s government must be carried on” —— but carried on for the good of the nation, not for the pleasure of the King. Also, Shakespeare?s history plays are mainly written under the principle that national unity under a mighty and just sovereign is a necessity. Second, Hamlet is not rooted in the common people, and Shakespeare also contempt the city plebeians. Shakespeare fears anarchy, hates rebellion and despises democracy, thus, he finds no way to solve the social problem, in the end, the only thing he can do as a humanist is to escape from the reality to seek comfort in his dreams. In a way, Hamlet?s tragedy is the crisis of Shakespeare as a humanist at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries. So Hamlet was a tragic image that reflects the tragedy of the humanists at Shakespeare?s time.
Why did Shakespeare create Hamlet as an image of tragic hero? Looking through the condition in which Hamlet lived, you can find the answer: there is a big gap between the ideal of humanist and the evil reality. The pain of Hamlet is not only the pain of himself, but also is the melancholy of the nation and his people. Hamlet is just a winner in morality and justice, but he cannot get the victory as a matter of act. This work reflects the ideal of the fresh bourgeois. So Hamlet is a tragedy of humanist. This play also reflects the politics situation of Britain during 16 and 17 century. At that time, bourgeois is rising and the whole society involved in a great change. So we can call this play humanist play. So the tragic image of Hamlet is not only caused by his personal reason but also the environment that he lived in.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my tutor —— Wangwei, who offers me academic and constructive advice on composing this paper. His encouragement and help are worthy of high acknowledgement. And I also would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Han Xiaoya, who is my thesis course teacher and gives me some advice on how to write a paper. At the same time, I would like to thank all the leaders and teachers of the School of Foreign Languages and Cultures. Here, I would like to thank library of Zhejiang University of Science and Technology for it offers me very useful materials that helps me with this paper.
At last, I give the heartiest thanks to all my teachers, friends and the roommates for their great help. I hope they all get bright future.
 Michael Mangan. A Preface to Shakespeare’s Tragedy[J]. Peking: Peking University Press, 2005(3).  Ma Li. Why Does Hamlet Have So M any Difficulties in Revenging His Father[J]. Journal of Zhongzhou University, No4, 2001(10).  Song Xia0jing, Approaching to the Psychology of Hamlet [J]. Journal of Chinese literature. No.3, 2007.  Yuan Yi. An Analysis of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” [J]. Journal of Shaanxi Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition), Vol. 35, Mar, 2006(3).  Zuo Xin. Analysis of Hamlet’s Complex Character By Hamlet’s Relationship with Other Major Characters[J].Journal of Suzhou Education Institute, Vol.5, No.4, 2002(12).  Zhang Yanhua, Leng Ning, Song Rongzhen. Hamlet and His Revenge [J]，Journal of Chengde Vocational College, No.3, 2007.  卞之琳．莎士比亚悲剧论痕[M]．安微：安徽教育出版社，2007。
 基托．哈姆雷特[M]．北京：中国社会科学出版社，1981。  孟宪强．外国文学[M]．河南：河南教育出版社，1988。  施咸荣．借鉴与探讨——外国文学部分[M]．北京：北京十月文艺出版社， 1986。  王守仁．英国文学选读（第二版）[M]．北京：高等教育出版社，2005。  王佐良等．欧洲文化入门[M]．北京：外语教学与研究出版社，2005。  杨周翰．莎士比亚评论汇篇[M]．北京：中社会科学出版社，1981。  张泗洋等．莎士比亚引论[M]．北京：中国戏剧出版社，1989。  张泗洋．莎士比亚的三重戏剧（研究、演出、教学）[M]．吉林：东北师范 大学出社，1988。  朱生豪．莎士比亚全集[M]．北京：人民文学出版社，1981。
copyright ©right 2010-2020。