The historical and mythical sources of Shakespeare's Hamlet

Essay, 2003

5 Pages


In this essay I will discuss the historical and mythical sources of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and briefly their relationship among one another. Although it is difficult to separate these into clearly distinguishable and exclusive categories, and perhaps even misleading to do so, I will, for getting the main facts in, try to bring them into a logical context. It will be seen that they will overlap.

When we talk about Shakespeare's sources for Hamlet, we are talking about Lucius Junius Brutus, who tries to save himself by feigning stupidity to his uncle, the king. About Nero, the insane murderer of his mother, of whom Uncle Claudius feigns in his youth stupidity as well for escaping being murdered and finally about Orestas, who becomes mad after his mother was murdered ( ; Sunday, 2003-12-28). Shakespeare recorded the relationships between these characters and combines them to a new hero. This hero of a new type has since then taken a special position in the consciousness of the people. For putting the drama in balance and to provide essential elements of human being for discussion, Shakespeare created Ophelia, a young woman, maybe a heroine. Ophelia is not modelled on other characters, but this is a discussed thesis. A few scientists on literature think, by creating Ophelia, in Shakespeare's mind was presumable the fate of the first wife of Amlethus, a nameless English princess. He discerns furthermore her relationship to the daughter of the judge Jephta and to Orestes 'sister, the unfortunate Iphigenia. Furthermore Shakespeare used the dramatic methods of the successful "Spanish Tragedy" ( ; Sunday, 2003-12-28; ; Sunday, 2003-12-28 ). In this revenge drama were the figures putted in a similar set of difficulties between madness and normality by Thomas Kyd, a contemporary of Shakespeare. If you focus on Shakespeare's sources and their development in "Hamlet", there are clear indications to his creative abilities and intentions.


Excerpt out of 5 pages


The historical and mythical sources of Shakespeare's Hamlet
Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg  (Institut für Anglistik)
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ISBN (eBook)
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338 KB
Shakespeare, Hamlet
Quote paper
Christopher Hohlbaum (Author), 2003, The historical and mythical sources of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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