Name of the Student English Name of the Concerned Professor 9 June 2013 Shakespeare’s Hamlet: a Marxian Critique Irrespective of the fact that Shakespeare’s drafted Hamlet in a period much before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, yet there is no denying the fact that even a cursory perusal of Hamlet testifies to the fact that the socio-economic context in Hamlet is much replete with incidence of class struggle…
Hence, it would be apt to apply a Marxist critical approach to any of the works of Shakespeare, and more so to Hamlet. The more traditional approaches towards literary criticism do coax and cajole the text to yield the innate meanings inherent in it. However, a Marxist approach towards the understanding of Hamlet, rather than delving on bringing out the hidden meanings, will rather try to approach the text as a material creation that needs to be understood in a historical context. To be able to interpret Hamlet in a Marxist context, the readers need to approach the theory wearing a Marxist lens that places a more than regular stress on as to how the characters affiliated to varied classes tend to interact with each other, particularly in the backdrop of the class oppression and the involving socio-economic inequity, and especially considering those words and dialogues emanating from any character that propose or are indicative of the rebellion against the upper classes. This is because form a Marxist perspective, the main element of interest will tend to be a determining base and then the determined superstructure imminent on it. In that context in the play Hamlet, the mannerisms inherent in the interactions between varied social classes, and the way the society is structured in the play indeed happens to be a strong driving force in the play (Joughin 57). In Hamlet one could indeed trace a strict representation of the avowed Marxist social classes that are the Aristocracy, represented by the royal family and the people of the court, which constitute the ruling class and make the pivotal socio-economic decisions in the play, the Bourgeoisie that are the characters that stand just below the aristocracy and earn a living by trading in the resources required by the other classes, and then the lowest class that are the Proletariat or the working class or the serfs that eke out a living by selling their labor and skills. There is no denying the fact that without much elaborating on the characters akin to each of the respective social class, it is amply evident in Hamlet that every character in it could be placed in one of the three Marxian social classes. The very first scene in Act I in Hamlet is replete with the indications of class struggle and thereby constitutes an ideal subject for a Marxian dissection. The scene begins by showing one of the guards on the palace walls relieving his colleague of the night duty. Now, in the times of Shakespeare, night watch was a work that was never assigned to the members of the upper class, and hence it could be concluded that the two guards, though being officers, hailed from the lower social strata. Irrespective of their mutual greeting of “Long Live the King!” which seems to evince their loyalty for the aristocracy, this loyalty seems to smack of falsehood and despair as no good member of the lower class made to perform the watch duty on a cold night will prefer to be so supportive of the upper classes who made one undergo such an ordeal. Hence, the truth that leaps forward is that perhaps Shakespeare happened to be an opportunist who simply could not help supporting and sustaining the socio-economic status quo of which he was a part of, that is, the monarchy, ...
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