It is not enough to analyse the works of Shakespeare only on the ideological contents, even will sink into the wrong region of diagrammatizing the drama characters. The result of this action often replaces the artistry with the ideological contents, and result in the simplification of analyze to the works. According to the drama plots and the characterizations of Hamlet, we could see that there are three features of Shakespeare’s tragedies: Distinctive Humanism, Artful Drama
Constructions, and Unity of Contingency and Necessity.
Key Words: Shakespeare; Hamlet; tragedy; features.
To observe the features of Shakespeare’s
tragedies from Hamlet
Introduction of Shakespeare:
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and mother Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. There is no record of his birth, but his baptism was recorded by the church, thus his birthday is assumed to be the 23 of April. His father was a prominent and prosperous alderman in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and was later granted a coat of arms by the College of Heralds. All that is known of Shakespeare's youth is that he presumably attended the Stratford Grammar School, and did not proceed to Oxford or Cambridge. The next record we have of him is his marriage to Anne Hathaway in 1582. The next year she bore a daughter for him, Susanna, followed by the twins Judith and Hamnet two years later.
Seven years later Shakespeare was recognized as an actor, poet, and playwright, when a rival playwright, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow" in "A Groatsworth of Wit." A few years later he joined up with one of the most successful acting troupes in London: "The Lord Chamberlain's Men." When, in 1599, the troupe lost the lease of the theatre where they performed (appropriately called "The Theatre"), they were wealthy enough to build their own theatre across the Thames, south of London, which they called "The Globe." The new theatre opened in July of 1599, built from the timbers of "The Theatre", with the motto "Totus mundus agit histrionem" (A whole world of players). When James I came to the throne (1603) the troupe was designated by the new king as the "King's Men" (or "King's Company"). The Letters Patent of the company specifically charged Shakespeare and eight others "freely to use and exercise the art and faculty of playing Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Interludes, Morals, Pastorals, stage plays ... as well for recreation of our loving subjects as for our solace and pleasure."
Shakespeare entertained the King and the people for another ten years until June 19, 1613, when a canon fired from the roof of the theatre for a gala performance of Henry VIII set fire to the thatch roof and burned the theatre to the ground. The audience ignored the smoke from the roof at first, being to absorbed in the play, until the flames caught the walls and the fabric of the curtains. Amazingly there were no casualties, and the next spring the company had the theatre "new builded in a far fairer manner than before." Although Shakespeare invested in the rebuilding, he retired from
the stage to the Great House of New Place in Statford that he had purchased in 1597, and some considerable land holdings, where he continued to write until his death in 1616 on the day of his 52nd birthday.
Introduction of Hamlet:
Shakespeare created Hamlet--a man with wisdom and courage .In order to revenge on his uncle for killing his father, he pretended to be mad and suffered a series of misery. On the contrary, we can also say that Hamlet is rude and selfish for he did not think twice before his revenge. If a country has no king, how can a country keep alive? So, every thing has two sides, the bright side and adumbral side. Every time we make a decision we have to think twice.
Hamlet of Shakespeare is a classical representative work. This book certainly does not have the big difference in the superficial plot with the historical fable, spoke or the Danish prince the story which revenged for the father, in which fills the rank smell of blood violence and dies. Just like the dramatis personae Horatio said: “you may hear to rape massacre, the unusual repair behavior, and the dark center decision, accidental slaughter, borrows the hand murder, as well as falls into suicide result." Windingly elects the plot, tightly centers on the revenge to launch. Hamlet Wittenberg hurries back the home in a hurry from Germany, is attends his father's funeral, enables him to accept, he not catches up with father's funeral, actually witnessed the mother and the Uncle Claudius' wedding ceremony, this had caused Hamlet the suspicion at the heart, added night above meets in the royal palace castle with father's ghost, the ghost sorrow sued, this pile atrocity was Uncle’s behavior, and wanted him to revenge
for the father. To this, he started the difficult revenge course, launched the life and death contest with Claudius. Finally, sent out sword the revenge to Claudius
And I will analyse the characters of Shakespeare’s works from three aspects
according to the Hamlet.
It can be said that in the history of western classical literature, it was Shakespeare who liberated people from the halo of the god. In his works, the defects of characters are not weaknesses, but the characters with defects which make people well-developed, and get perfect performance. With the plots mingled with personalities, the development of personal shortcomings is becoming more and more obvious, and results in the tragedy at last.
In Hamlet, the tragedy of Ophelia resulted from her simplicity. She couldn’t
understand Hamlet, even help him, because of her simplicity, the king and her father exploited her to frame up Hamlet. But everything she did was unwillingly, and she even didn’t know what she had done. So when Hamlet killed her father and expelled by the king, the most beautiful things in her heart was destroyed, she got crazy. She couldn’t understand why Hamlet killed her father, she couldn’t stand so many heavy
blows, and she died. Her death was as innocent and pure as herself.
Complete creativity of characters isn’t perfect characters. In the opposite, just as
there is no perfect person in reality, the creativity of artistic typicality also should express the character shortcoming, and then can create lively figures. Besides, in these Shakespeare’s works there are some tragic roles have vague characters, and unstable factors. These factors make characters more complex. Analyze Hamlet from two aspects, he educated the humanism in German Wittenberg University, his leading ideal was correct and represented the advancement, but he believed in the ghost and god controlled the live and death, so he didn’t kill Claudius when he was at his prayer,
and missed the good chance to revenge. He didn’t believe that his uncle was evil and
his mother betrayed his father, his kindness made him weak, so when put the heavy task of revenge on his shoulder, it was difficult for him to undertake it. He was such a person with defective character. But just are these defects made Shakespeare’s drama
roles have the meaning to appreciate. And those praises to these defective humans made people real and lively, it is just the specific expression of Shakespeare’s
?、Artful Drama Constructions
The constructions of Shakespeare’s tragedy are often involved in several clues,
and reflect the wide social lives. Shakespeare often described several plot clues, connect the roles from different stratums, and developed the clues at the same time and mingled at last. For example, in Hamlet there are three clues, Hamlet revenge for
his father, Laertes revenge for his father and Fortinbras revenge for his father, the expansion of three clues is good for the comparisons between roles and events, and could highlight the important social and historical meanings of the revenge of Hamlet who represented the spirit of that time. And Hamlet and Claudius who stand for kindness and evilness, they and these people around them also form two different clues. These two clues mingled and lead to the drama conflict, express personalities and push the plots develop.
In the tragedy, what is the position of the scenes of the ghost’s appearance, it is
also a question that need to be discussed. In Hamlet, the appearance of the ghost
decided the keynote, it made Hamlet, a flabby person undertake a heavy task which beyond his ability, and made the whole tragedy filled with mysterious colors. The ghost contacted the future and past together, point out the theme. The appearance of the ghost proved Hamlet’s doubt-his uncle murdered his father and married his mother, and deepened his distrust in his uncle Claudius. So the appearance of the ghost was very important and necessary. It deepened people’s trust in the drama conflict. The
ghost standed for the wisdom, solemnness, honesty and kindness, he hoped the evil could be punished and he put the task on his son who was the only one he could trust. The ghost had character also, and experienced important misfortune, which made ghost a necessary role. So we need pay attention to its function in the plots development.
In Shakespeare’s tragedies, tragic factors and comedic factors has mixed mostly, this mix reflect mainly in the unite of the scenes of the tragedy and comedy. Such as the clown dig the grave, the plot made the characters more real, and relaxed people from the nervous and horrific mood temporarily, and deepened our understandings of the conditions of these tragic characters.
In addition, we should know the differences between drama plot and novel plot. The drama is that actors perform in the stage, and the audience with their vision and hearing directly hold the artistic images and the script idea. This distance makes us distinguish ourselves from the actors. The sense of distance which results from the drama is big. Compare with the drama, the novel is shorter. It gives readers more imagination, and makes us feel that these figures and events near by. This is why people who read Shakespeare’s works get more profits than those watch his dramas.
Therefore, analyse his works shouldn’t as same as novels, but should pay more
attentions to these plots he designed,
Shakespeare showed the vast social frames with the lively and abundant plots, he involved his subjective moods and the opinions to the society, history and life in the development of the drama plots. His tragedy ideas and contradictions aren’t written
painstakingly, but appeared naturally in the plots development, and have a effect on leading and educating people silently.
In Shakespeare’s tragedies, these characters have round personalities, he created these personalities with many character factors. In this construction, every factor exists, crosses, transform and permeate mutually, and form its construction level,
which make characters complicated and well-organized.
?、Unity of Contingency and Necessity
We are always having a confusion when we read Hamlet, that his tragic fate
resulted from a series of contingencies. Through the theatrical company performed the designed drama, he unmasked Claudius, but he also exposed himself, it was a casual plot. But he killed Polonius casually, which deepened his misfortune. He was asked to England, it was a plot, he unpacked the secret letter accidentally which wrote by his uncle to the king of the England, and then lengthened his unfortunate fate. He fight with Laertes, it was also an accidental factor that the sword was poison. So many accidental factors made his tragic result come true step by step. This effect of fate make us feel that the characters of his tragedies were controlled by the fate, no matter how to struggle, they couldn’t get rid of the control of fate. But if analyse Hamlet’s
hesitation carefully, and combine with the historical present situation of English society at that time, it is not difficult to see that as a prince of a feudal kingdom, Hamlet has just accepted the idea of newly developing capitalist class, his humanism is difficult to realize, in the background that the country regard the kingship and stratum as criterion and even the commons think natural and reasonable. His idea of all men are created equal and innate rights of man would think as heresies, and his final tragic fate must be shown by a series of contingencies. The tragic keynote decides the necessity of ruin. But these factors of contingency and necessity are mingled with each other, without contingency factors, it is impossible to realize the necessity. Their involvements cause the characters’ tragedies and lead to these roles’
ruin. In Shakespeare’s works, it were these contingency plots what have the functions on deepen the artistic effects and strengthen the tragic atmosphere. But we should point out that for too much using of the contingency plots, these drama characters sometimes appear lack fidelity and hard to avoid flat. What is the important is that the hesitation and contradiction of Hamlet and the contingency of the development of his tragic character are own to Shakespeare himself rather than the drama role’s, this is
the answer to the riddle of Hamlet.
Via the analysis to Hamlet, we can deepen our general understandings to the literature works. The artistry is as equally important as the idea of works, we should not simply analyse the idea with ignoring the artistry, let alone regard the idea as the model of the politics. Using the politics to replace the art and via political sight to
observe roles’ characters will change the aesthetic evaluation into political court. Follow the political value opinion, one person who can reflect centrally more class features and political profits of the class itself, he is more fit to the political idea, and more valuable. But the political is not the same as the appreciated idea, and the political values are not the aesthetic values. Replace the aesthetic values by the political values must lead to the demanding for the political idealization of the roles’
personalities, and this is the reason to many figures get the failure in the aesthetic traditions. So when we are analyzing the idea of Shakespeare’s works, we should pay
more attention to the artistry, aesthetic values and the relationship between the drama plots and persons’ characters of his works.