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Hamlet: Shakespeare's Plagiarism of The Spanish Tragedy Essay

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Some say that the essence of the present resides in the past. Hamlet, Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, as many great works, draws its deepest roots and ideas from past masterpieces. But how has Hamlet borrowed from other texts ; and with what effect ? In particular, Shakespeare borrowed the plot elements, the concept of the revenge tragedy and the character traits from Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy.

First of all, this essay will discuss what plot elements, such as the play within the play and the genre of the revenge play that have been borrowed from Thomas Kyd’s works, notably The SpanishTragedy.
The play within a play has been used for a long time in stories ; scholars have traced it’s use back to the Arabic, Persian and Indian storytelling traditions (Bonnie Irwin, 1995). It can also be identified in Homer’s Odyssey but the first time it was probably used for drama, was in Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy. By reusing this emerging literary organ, Shakespeare is sure of his success with the presentation of his work and demonstrates to what degree drama is powerful so as to make ones self see the truth in ones acts. It is with it that Hamlet manages to surface Claudius’ guilt and to be sure that the ghost’s truthfulness. Additionally, he uses all the conventions and themes of a revenge tragedy that where extremely popular in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era and present in The Spanish Tragedy. But Shakespeare moves well beyond the usual revenge tragedy form in this play. Hamlet became a play were the themes are complicates and the psychology of its models is deepened. This is done by Hamlet’s complex characterization were he is in conflict between the Roman values of blood-right and martial valor, and Christian values of humility a...


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Irwin, B. (1995). Oral Tradition. Accessed on November 14, 2013 from http://journal.oraltradition.org/files/articles/10i/6_irwin

James, D. (2003). Hamlet. THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE ENGLISH THEATRE
PROGRAMMES FOR STUDENT AUDIENCES 2003-2004 SEASON. Accessed on November 14, 2013 from http://www.artsalive.ca/pdf/eth/activitieshamlet_guide.pdf

Schwartz, D. (2002). Sources and Models for Hamlet : Thomas Kyd and Revenge Tragedy. Califoria Polytechnic State University. Accessed on November 14, 2013 from http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl339/revenge.html

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Toronto, Canada: International Thomson Publishing, 1997.

Wischik, M. (1998). DISCUSS THE ROLE OF MADNESS IN THE DELAY OF REVENGE IN THE SPANISH TRAGEDY AND IN HAMLET. Accessed on November 14, 2013 from http://www.wischik.com/marcus/essay/st&h3.html


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