Hamlet is one of the most famous plays in the English language. Written by a German poet named William Shakespeare, Hamlet was first performed in London in 1604. Since then, many versions have been made and studied.
Many experts and scholars agree that the play should be read as a meditation on death, legacy, honor, and responsibility. This is called a tragedy.
Tragedies look like this: title (or word) + event + reaction. In this case, the event is death, the reaction is madness, and the title is madness!
This article will talk about some dramatic convention features that Hamlet would be using if he were adapted into a television series. This would need to change some things, of course.
Character death in comedy
In comedy, the death of a character can be a tricky thing to handle. There are many conventions for how death affects the audience, how it changes the characters and the story overall.
We talk about mortality a lot in poetry and fiction, so it is no surprise that death would play a role in comedy.
The classic joke about the hanged man is that he is still thinking about money and how to get it. We all know that we cannot relate fully to someone who has lost everything, but we do still have our normal reactions to someone who has suffered such severe loss.
We worry about them being unable to laugh or enjoy life and we enjoy their company more because of it. We may also have feelings of relief that they are dead because of what they did to us.
Hamlet and character death
Hamlet is one of the most famous tragic characters in literature. He is complex and interesting, with many ways to look at him.
He is a student who gets put in charge of an education system that does not work for him. He is a prince who loses his title and dignity when he fails to do the right thing at the right time.
These elements make Hamlet into a hauntingly interesting character, with his own mythology and back stories. Despite this, he never seems to grow or develop over the course of literature or television show adaptation.
This can be problematic, because when a character does not have development, it affects how others portray them. When this does occur, it can be jarring and destroy the illusion of drama that others want to apply to them.
Does Hamlet qualify as a tragedy?
If yes, then does Shakespeare’s Hamlet qualify as a tragedy? If not, why not?
The term tragedy refers to an emotional or spiritual path that leads to an unhappy or painful ending. There are five basic types of tragedies: Classical Greek, Classical Roman, Medieval, Georgian, and American.
American tragedies typically focus on a clear event that leaves an indelible impression on the audience (e.g. losing a parent), but there are exceptions such as Othello and Romeo and Juliet.
The most common classical tragic conventions include: central character is morally flawed; they suffer from serious emotional and spiritual wounds; they ultimately make a choice that causes them pain and suffering (usually wrong); and they have one last chance to right their wrongs (usually false).
What is the tragic flaw?
In order for a character to be tragic, there must be a flaw within the character. The flaw must be enough to cause them pain and emotional distress, and for them to go through a period of self-reflection in order to correct their mistake.
Shakespeare would not use the same flaws that we do today because they are too simple and/or boring. For example, we would not have filmgoers interested in Hamlet’s flaw is his obsession with his father’s death, or that he is simply envious of another person’s happiness.
We also believe that he would not be able to correctly reflect this flaw in a dramatic convention because it would just seem too simple and/or boring. It would also make him seem less human as he could only reflect his emotions which are just enmity toward others without any regrets.
Does the play meet all of the criteria for a classical tragedy?
Classical tragedies do not rely on flashbacks, or detailed explanations of what happened before a tragedy occurs. Instead, the tragedy occurs as the character observes events, and then reacts to them.
classical tragedies do not rely on flashbacks, or detailed explanations of what happened before a tragedy occurs. Instead, the tragedy occurs as the character observes events, and then reacts to them. Classical tragedies usually have a protagonist and antagonist with no middle ground or relatable characters.
classical dramas do have middle grounds or characters that are not black-and-white, but they are usually more human than literary. For example, House M.D. has characters that are weak, normal people who make mistakes that cause them pain and hurtfulness.
does have middle grounds or characters that are not black-and-white, but are usually more human than literary. For example,has characters that are weak, normal people who make mistakes that cause them pain and hurtfulness.
Dramatic conventions in Shakespeare’s time
There were several dramatic conventions in use during Shakespeare’s time that affected how he wrote characters and stories. These conventions affected his characters and their conversations, as well as the audience was supposed to understand them.
Some of these conventions include:
Priority of plot over character development (This is a hard one to break away from, since character development is such a integral part of a story)
(This is a hard one to break away from, since character development is such a integral part of a story) The importance of dialogue over other forms of characterization
than other forms of characterization The emphasis on action over internal thought
One notable convention that did not exist in Shakespeare’s time was the emphasis on emotion in writing characters. This may have influenced some writers to downplay or ignore the importance of emotion in writing characters.
What is character death?
Character death is when a person, character, or thing dies without being killed by a significant other, friend, ally, or enemy. It can be accomplished by a significant other or friend killing the person, character, or thing in an ethical way (as inHamlet).
Character death can be unethical or un-Shakespearean. For example, in Hamlet, the main character is told he is not good enough to die and isn’t asked if he wants to die. This shows that the death isn’t ethical or noble.
It is also common for characters to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. In Hamlet’s case, he dies fighting against his father and his crime doesn’t seem nearly as bad as the others did. This shows that his death was not in vain either.
Ethical/un-Shakespearean deaths are ones where someone else kills someone else in an ethical way but not Shakespearean ways.
Why does Hamlet die at the end of the play?
Hamlet dies because he is not conflicted enough about his actions. He is not forced to think about how his death will affect people, only how he will feel.
He decides to kill his father, but does not feel any remorse for it. He is confident that if he lives in exile, he can repent and become the kind of man his father wanted him to be.
After killing his father, Hamlet feels no pain and no remorse. He has put himself beyond the realm of human emotions, making him a blank slate on which the rest of the world can project its emotions. This makes him die alone and without a trace.
His death leaves a huge void in the play that cannot be filled. Nobody mourns him and nobody writes another character like him again.