HAMLET REVEALED IN NEW INTREPETATION
For 400 Years Real Structure Has Been Ignored
HAMLET by William Shakespeare is not a drama about a man who is incapable of making a decision nor is it only about Hamlet seeking revenge. Revenge is only part if not half the play. It is about a man who is going through a spiritual metamorphosis. Some say HAMLET is among the greatest plays ever written, but is it about a man who is dimwitted and slow, incapable of making up his mind? That’s like saying Julius Caesar won wars because he thought like a chimpanzee.
HAMLET is a Duel Structured Drama. Its most obvious and conventional structure is the Revenge Tragedy, but Shakespeare goes far beyond this run of the mill technique by inventing an ingenious second parallel structure that’s derived from Martin Luther’s popular book of the time, A SMALL CATECHISM, thus creating the antitheses of revenge, forgiveness. Shakespeare creates the character, Hamlet, as an Auto-Catechumen, putting his main character in a crucible between Denmark’s old and corrupt Catholic Institutions and Her new Evangelical Lutheran Doctrine. The play’s opening scene, of a ghost wandering the grounds of the castle at Elsinore, is a soul without absolution, seeking its redemption. Revenge serves no purpose for the dead and Hamlet, being educated in Christianity at Wittenberg University, would have known revenge is a base desire. So Hamlet sets out on an inward path to redemption.
Hamlet’s catechism includes the ‘…To be or not to be?’ questions. Hamlet questions the hereafter in relation to revenge, but he never reaches the metaphysical, he can only struggle with his ideas in the abstract. He succeeds in touching upon the metaphysical with the questions of ‘…Who is Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba?’. Here Hamlet gets his first sense of the Evangelical, but at the end of this soliloquy he reverts to his base self, back to desiring revenge. Another step of Hamlet’s catechism is to kill off the Sin of Pride and turn away from the Sin of Lust, both these sins manifesting itself in the characters of Polonius and his sex-craved daughter Ophelia.
After being expelled from Denmark for killing Polonius Hamlet experiences a miracle at sea that saves his life, he returns to Elsinore wanting to finish his catechism of redemption started at his father’s death. In its climax Hamlet completes his catechism at the graveyard asking his final questions about, Yorrick, his father’s court jester. Hamlet has an epiphany, he now fully grasps the metaphysical becoming Evangelical, redemption is upon him—not needing absolution from a priest—he then sets out on a path of forgiveness.
The epilog—the fencing duel—most often mistaken as the climax—is filled with religious symbolism, i.e. the chalices of wine, the offering by Hamlet of the chalice of ‘new’ wine to his uncle, etc. The play’s summary of the fencing duel is a brilliant duplication of the aligning structures, i.e. Laertes, the son of Polonius, fences to exact revenge on Hamlet while Hamlet is devoted to bringing forgiveness. Because of Hamlet’s Evangelical transformation, Laertes, at his death has an epiphany, he understands Hamlet’s Message and forgives him. After drinking the ‘old’ wine Hamlet’s mother forgives him upon her death after coming to understand her son’s message turning her ‘old’ wine into ‘new’.
In conclusion: it is a contradiction for conventional wisdom to say HAMLET is among the greatest plays ever written or the greatest play ever written then on the other hand say the play’s is about a man that cannot make up is mind. They can’t have it both ways.