An Analytical Essay on Hamlet as Ghost Story, Detective Story and Revenge Story
Length: 693 words (2 double-spaced pages)
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William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, is a ghost story, a detective story and a revenge story all within one plot. Throughout the play, qualities of all three types of stories are displayed. The ghost story consists of Hamlet Senior and the circumstances surrounding his untimely demise at the hands of the present King, Claudius. He is being tortured in hell until his death is properly avenged. The detective aspect of Hamlet is brought about by Hamlet trying to figure out whether or not his fathers ghost was real and also to what, if any extent, his mother the "virtuous" Queen Gertrude was involved with the murder of his Father. Both Hamlet and Laertes, bring yet another aspect to this most versatile play, by seeking revenge for their fathers death, each in their own way. By viewing the play as either one or all of these different aspects we learn to have different perspectives on the play.
The story of Hamlet Senior's death is the ghost story aspect of the play. Hamlet Senior, the late king, was being tormented in hell throughout the daylight hours and during the night he was forced to walk the castle. He stated that he was "Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night, And for the day confin'd to fast in fires, Till the foul crimes done in my [being the late King's] days of nature Are burnt and purg'd away (50 lines 10-13). His release from this torture would not be permitted until his avenger is retaliated against by his son. Hamlet, Francisco and Bernardo all see the ghost of the late king, but the apparition will only speak to his son. The ghost brings an unnatural feel to the drama and leaves the reader/viewer wondering if it was real or all in Hamlet's mind.
Hamlet is made to do some detective work in this melodrama. His first order of business was to figure out if the ghost of his father that he thought he saw, was in fact real and if it was, was it unfeigned or a demon. Then, he must decide if the ghost of his father was truthful about Claudius, his father's brother, Hamlet's uncle who was also the reigning King, committing fratricide against his father. To find evidence of Claudius' involvement, Hamlet uses the players, to bring about his uncles deep seated feelings hopefully lodged in his conscience.
In reading the play it is unclear as to what extent Claudius is affected by the play that is within the play. It is stated by Ophelia that "The King rises" (94, 250), which does not fully admit his guilt after hearing the plot of the play by the characters revealed to him by Hamlet.. Queen Gertrude's involvement with the late king's murder is also a problem to which Hamlet must get to the bottom of. According to the ghost of his father it was unclear to him whether she was involved or not. Hamlet had trouble finding out whether or not she was involved.
The theme of revenge is demonstrated throughout the entire play and it acts as an integral character. Revenge is seen as a motive for many effects. Hamlet seeks revenge on Claudius to avenge his father's death. Gertrude is targeted by Hamlet for marrying Claudius too soon after the death of her husband and also for her involvement in his murder. Hamlet's long time friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are sought after by him also, for attempting to carry out Claudius' orders to kill him. Lastly Laertes pursues Hamlet to avenge his father, Polonius' death. The play Hamlet being three different kinds of stories in one, proves to make an interesting and constantly turning plot. The ghost story gives the play an unnatural feel and leaves the reader guessing as to what Hamlet saw if anything. The detective aspect of the play extremely suspenseful and also makes the reader wonder what is going to happen next. The revenge theme, is one that affirms the readers suspicions about who the true murders was and how his death was avenged.