There is much to be taken from the play Hamlet. As history shown us this play has been scrutinize a million times over and yet even today we can still find a new prospective in which to look at the play. That in part is due to the fact that the plays complexity that has left it opened to many interpretations. Nevertheless we also tend to view other’s interpretation of the play and critique their works. Can Hamlet be compared to todays society? A Ms.
Linda Charnes tackles this idea in her writing “The Hamlet formerly known as Prince”, Charnes compares Hamlet to iddle-class Americans. Charnes asks the question, “But what can middle-class Americans possibly have in common with this Prince”? Is it the question of what Hamlet has in common with middle-class American or the question of what’s difference between the two! “Thus we might say that Hamlet’s simultaneous lack of political interest and self-righteous aggrievements have created a cultural Wormhole, whisking him out of Shakespeare’s era and dropping him squarely into our own. ” (Charnes 190).
I can agree with her and say that Hamlet indeed does seem to arallel the middle-class American culture in what he personified. Hamlet was ready, willing, and driven to oppose that which he didn’t condone. That is also true today amongst the middle-class Americans which are willing and ready “stand up for their rights”. But is this truly a Just statement. What makes a person middle-class? Is it his financial status? Being middle class has emerged as a vital part of the 20th-century American psyche. “The majority of Americans define themselves as middle class, regardless of their actual income level.
This perception is obviously off-base, but with o official definition, it’s hard to pin down how much Americans overestimate their middle-class status” (Crispell, Diane, Peter Francese, and Elia Kacapyr). So I find myself could this be an overstatement claiming Hamlet as a middle-class American, if it would have been based on his income level than there is certainly no comparison. He was certainly among the upper class. Although Hamlet would make an ideal American citizen no matter his social status how are we to consider the way death was view during Shakespearean time and the way it is view nowadays.
In todays ociety death is something that is held to a higher standard than back in the Shakespearean era. As Indira Ghose points out in her article “Jesting with Death: Hamlet in the Graveyard” at the time Hamlet had been written, death was something that had been talk about in a Jesting manner for centuries prior. So it was common for someone to find humor in death, if there was some to be found. Hamlet in the graveyard was not completely a humorous seen. It more so showed a separation between two society statuses. Hamlet asks a question of why the gravedigger doesn’t take his work more seriously.
Death was looked at in a manner that is far different than how it is today. “To the medieval mind, laughter marked one’s triumph over the specious threat of evil and the illusion of death” (Ghose 1005). Death was feared so to overcome that fear people found it necessary to Joke about it. As time progressed so did many people’s civility What one would Joke about or what one laughed at became a deciding factor of his social status. The very art in the medieval times also captures the tradition of finding comic relief in Joking about death as we can see an example of this depicted in the Dance with Death motif.
Interestingly, the Dance of Death motif becomes popular precisely at the same time as a concern for individuality displaced the early Christian notion of collective death” (1005). As time progressed individual views on death change and as a results more attention was given to that which was the norm. So how much has actually changed since the medieval times. I found an example that there is still existence is on the same level or might even exceed the humor of that the medieval times. “It was 3:00 am and three tired emergency room residents were wondering why the pizza they’d ordered hadn’t ome yet.
A nurse interrupted their pizza complaints with a shout: “GSW Trauma One–no pulse, no blood pressure. ” The residents rushed to meet the gurney and immediately recognized the unconscious shooting victim: he was the teenage delivery boy from their favorite all-night restaurant, and he’d been mugged bringing their dinner. That made them work even harder. A surgeon cracked the kid’s rib cage and exposed his heart, but the bullet had torn it open and they couldn’t even stabilize him for the OR. After forty minutes of resuscitation they called it: time of death, 4:00 a. m. The young doctors shuffled into the temporarily empty waiting area.
They sat in silence. Then David said what all three were thinking. “What happened to our pizza? ” Joe found their pizza box where the delivery boy dropped it before he ran from his attackers. It was face up, a few steps away from the ER’s sliding doors. Joe set it on the table. They stared at it. Then one of the residents made a Joke. “How much you think we ought to tip him? ” The residents laughed. Then they ate the pizza. David told me this story fifteen years after he finished his residency, but the urgency ith which he told it made it seem like it happened last night. “You’re the ethicist,” he said. Was it wrong to make a Joke? “” (Watson, Katie). Upon the arrival of the play Hamlet many critics believed that it was already outdated. This is mainly because it was preceded by the play Ur-Hamlet, which was notably remembered as having tired formulas and stock devices (Margreta). How might a play which was a recycling of another play which was known for having tired formulas and stock devices ever be considered modern? Margreta de Grazia seem to argue this point in her “When did Hamlet become modern” article. In this she seems to examine Hamlet’s intellect and thought process as grounds to consider him modern . – Hamlet was modern not because of its intimation of things to come, but because of its problematic relation to what had gone before. Inwardness emerges on the literary scene as the defining trait of the modern that conclusively dissolves its ties to the past and puts it in touch with the future” (Margreta 499). Hamlet’s internal reflections are what enable him to be modernized. His ability to conceptualize and then act upon is indicative to Hamlet’s modernism. “The plays greatest value in this egard lies not in hearing what Hamlet thinks, but in seeing how he’s changed by thinking it.
When he returns from his dubious pirate adventure, he has undergone a psychic change: he has achieved an Elizabethan form of Zen. “The readiness is all,” he tells Horatio. A present-day literary manager would insist that a playwright tell us how such a change occurred. But Shakespeare didn’t, leaving us with a tantalizing challenge. It Hamlet, who is so remarkably like us, can somehow go trom being tense, scared, and angry in Act I to serene and philosophical in Act V, then we should be able to do it too. Four centuries have brought us no closer to his wisdom.
Put on enough revivals, though, and we may catch up to him yet” (McCarter). Works Cited Ghose, Indira. “Jesting With Death: Hamlet In The Graveyard. ” Textual Practice 24. 6 (2010): 1003-1018. Literary Reference center Plus. web. 16 Feb. 2012. de Grazia, Margreta. “When Did Hamlet Become Modern?. ” Textual Practice 17. 3 (2003): 485-503. Academic search complete. web. 16 Feb. 2012 Charnes, Linda. Hamlet’s Heirs : Shakespeare And The Politics Of A New Millennium. Taylor & Francis Routledge, 2006. cook collection (EBSCOhost). eb. 16 Feb. 2012.
Crispell, Diane, Peter Francese, and Crispell, Diane, Peter Francese, and Elia Kacapyr. “Are you middle class? ” American Demographics Oct. 1996: 30+. Academic OneFile. Web. 16 Feb. 2012. Watson, Katie. “Gallows humor in medicine: medical professionals regularly Joke about their patients’ problems. Some of these Jokes are clearly wrong, but are all jokes wrong? ” The Hastings Center Report Sept. -Oct. 2011: 37+. Academic OneFile. web. 16 Feb. 2012. McCarter, Jeremy. “Today’s Man. ” Newsweek 154. 15 (2009): 55-56. Academic Search complete. web. 16 Feb. 2012.