Wednesday, August 22

We watched Michael Almereyda's Hamlet last night and I really like it. I consider myself an amateur Hamlet scholar, and it passed muster with me.

It's got me thinking about Hamlet again, and here's my current thesis:

The classic tragedy has a hero with a tragic flaw, usually pride (hubris), who tries to escape fate and gets crushed because of his action.

Hamlet's fatal action is inaction. Here is an evil which calls for immediate justice, but his intellectual sophistication and brooding keep him from that action. It brings complete destruction upon his family and Ophelia's family.

Shakespeare's work is genius. Making the fatal action inaction is a master stroke.

I think the whole Greek fate thing is turned, too, in 'Hamlet' to more of an ethical 'what is the right thing to do'. While there is some mention of fate, I don't think that dynamic is operating as strongly. Does Hamlet cross fate in either action or inaction? It has been said that 'Hamlet' is the first modern play. This would be one sign of that, stepping away from the importance of fate. Compare the importance of fate in 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Julius Caesar'.

And remember, if Hamlet is certifiably crazy, it's not a tragedy anymore. Technically the hero has to be aware of what he's doing. I thing Hamlet become's a little eratic as time wears on, but I deny that he evers steps into madness.
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