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Jeffrey R. Wilson

Essays on hamlet.

Essays On Hamlet

Written as the author taught Hamlet every semester for a decade, these lightning essays ask big conceptual questions about the play with the urgency of a Shakespeare lover, and answer them with the rigor of a Shakespeare scholar. In doing so, Hamlet becomes a lens for life today, generating insights on everything from xenophobia, American fraternities, and religious fundamentalism to structural misogyny, suicide contagion, and toxic love.

Prioritizing close reading over historical context, these explorations are highly textual and highly theoretical, often philosophical, ethical, social, and political. Readers see King Hamlet as a pre-modern villain, King Claudius as a modern villain, and Prince Hamlet as a post-modern villain. Hamlet’s feigned madness becomes a window into failed insanity defenses in legal trials. He knows he’s being watched in “To be or not to be”: the soliloquy is a satire of philosophy. Horatio emerges as Shakespeare’s authorial avatar for meta-theatrical commentary, Fortinbras as the hero of the play. Fate becomes a viable concept for modern life, and honor a source of tragedy. The metaphor of music in the play makes Ophelia Hamlet’s instrument. Shakespeare, like the modern corporation, stands against sexism, yet perpetuates it unknowingly. We hear his thoughts on single parenting, sending children off to college, and the working class, plus his advice on acting and writing, and his claims to be the next Homer or Virgil. In the context of four centuries of Hamlet hate, we hear how the text draws audiences in, how it became so famous, and why it continues to captivate audiences.

At a time when the humanities are said to be in crisis, these essays are concrete examples of the mind-altering power of literature and literary studies, unravelling the ongoing implications of the English language’s most significant artistic object of the past millennium.


Why is Hamlet the most famous English artwork of the past millennium? Is it a sexist text? Why does Hamlet speak in prose? Why must he die? Does Hamlet depict revenge, or justice? How did the death of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, transform into a story about a son dealing with the death of a father? Did Shakespeare know Aristotle’s theory of tragedy? How did our literary icon, Shakespeare, see his literary icons, Homer and Virgil? Why is there so much comedy in Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy? Why is love a force of evil in the play? Did Shakespeare believe there’s a divinity that shapes our ends? How did he define virtue? What did he think about psychology? politics? philosophy? What was Shakespeare’s image of himself as an author? What can he, arguably the greatest writer of all time, teach us about our own writing? What was his theory of literature? Why do people like Hamlet ? How do the Hamlet haters of today compare to those of yesteryears? Is it dangerous for our children to read a play that’s all about suicide? 

These are some of the questions asked in this book, a collection of essays on Shakespeare’s Hamlet stemming from my time teaching the play every semester in my Why Shakespeare? course at Harvard University. During this time, I saw a series of bright young minds from wildly diverse backgrounds find their footing in Hamlet, and it taught me a lot about how Shakespeare’s tragedy works, and why it remains with us in the modern world. Beyond ghosts, revenge, and tragedy, Hamlet is a play about being in college, being in love, gender, misogyny, friendship, theater, philosophy, theology, injustice, loss, comedy, depression, death, self-doubt, mental illness, white privilege, overbearing parents, existential angst, international politics, the classics, the afterlife, and the meaning of it all. 

These essays grow from the central paradox of the play: it helps us understand the world we live in, yet we don't really understand the text itself very well. For all the attention given to Hamlet , there’s no consensus on the big questions—how it works, why it grips people so fiercely, what it’s about. These essays pose first-order questions about what happens in Hamlet and why, mobilizing answers for reflections on life, making the essays both highly textual and highly theoretical. 

Each semester that I taught the play, I would write a new essay about Hamlet . They were meant to be models for students, the sort of essay that undergrads read and write – more rigorous than the puff pieces in the popular press, but riskier than the scholarship in most academic journals. While I later added scholarly outerwear, these pieces all began just like the essays I was assigning to students – as short close readings with a reader and a text and a desire to determine meaning when faced with a puzzling question or problem. 

The turn from text to context in recent scholarly books about Hamlet is quizzical since we still don’t have a strong sense of, to quote the title of John Dover Wilson’s 1935 book, What Happens in Hamlet. Is the ghost real? Is Hamlet mad, or just faking? Why does he delay? These are the kinds of questions students love to ask, but they haven’t been – can’t be – answered by reading the play in the context of its sources (recently addressed in Laurie Johnson’s The Tain of Hamlet [2013]), its multiple texts (analyzed by Paul Menzer in The Hamlets [2008] and Zachary Lesser in Hamlet after Q1 [2015]), the Protestant reformation (the focus of Stephen Greenblatt’s Hamlet in Purgatory [2001] and John E. Curran, Jr.’s Hamlet, Protestantism, and the Mourning of Contingency [2006]), Renaissance humanism (see Rhodri Lewis, Hamlet and the Vision of Darkness [2017]), Elizabethan political theory (see Margreta de Grazia, Hamlet without Hamlet [2007]), the play’s reception history (see David Bevington, Murder Most Foul: Hamlet through the Ages [2011]), its appropriation by modern philosophers (covered in Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster’s The Hamlet Doctrine [2013] and Andrew Cutrofello’s All for Nothing: Hamlet’s Negativity [2014]), or its recent global travels (addressed, for example, in Margaret Latvian’s Hamlet’s Arab Journey [2011] and Dominic Dromgoole’s Hamlet Globe to Globe [2017]). 

Considering the context and afterlives of Hamlet is a worthy pursuit. I certainly consulted the above books for my essays, yet the confidence that comes from introducing context obscures the sharp panic we feel when confronting Shakespeare’s text itself. Even as the excellent recent book from Sonya Freeman Loftis, Allison Kellar, and Lisa Ulevich announces Hamlet has entered “an age of textual exhaustion,” there’s an odd tendency to avoid the text of Hamlet —to grasp for something more firm—when writing about it. There is a need to return to the text in a more immediate way to understand how Hamlet operates as a literary work, and how it can help us understand the world in which we live. 

That latter goal, yes, clings nostalgically to the notion that literature can help us understand life. Questions about life send us to literature in search of answers. Those of us who love literature learn to ask and answer questions about it as we become professional literary scholars. But often our answers to the questions scholars ask of literature do not connect back up with the questions about life that sent us to literature in the first place—which are often philosophical, ethical, social, and political. Those first-order questions are diluted and avoided in the minutia of much scholarship, left unanswered. Thus, my goal was to pose questions about Hamlet with the urgency of a Shakespeare lover and to answer them with the rigor of a Shakespeare scholar. 

In doing so, these essays challenge the conventional relationship between literature and theory. They pursue a kind of criticism where literature is not merely the recipient of philosophical ideas in the service of exegesis. Instead, the creative risks of literature provide exemplars to be theorized outward to help us understand on-going issues in life today. Beyond an occasion for the demonstration of existing theory, literature is a source for the creation of new theory.

Chapter One How Hamlet Works

Whether you love or hate Hamlet , you can acknowledge its massive popularity. So how does Hamlet work? How does it create audience enjoyment? Why is it so appealing, and to whom? Of all the available options, why Hamlet ? This chapter entertains three possible explanations for why the play is so popular in the modern world: the literary answer (as the English language’s best artwork about death—one of the very few universal human experiences in a modern world increasingly marked by cultural differences— Hamlet is timeless); the theatrical answer (with its mixture of tragedy and comedy, the role of Hamlet requires the best actor of each age, and the play’s popularity derives from the celebrity of its stars); and the philosophical answer (the play invites, encourages, facilitates, and sustains philosophical introspection and conversation from people who do not usually do such things, who find themselves doing those things with Hamlet , who sometimes feel embarrassed about doing those things, but who ultimately find the experience of having done them rewarding).

Chapter Two “It Started Like a Guilty Thing”: The Beginning of Hamlet and the Beginning of Modern Politics

King Hamlet is a tyrant and King Claudius a traitor but, because Shakespeare asked us to experience the events in Hamlet from the perspective of the young Prince Hamlet, we are much more inclined to detect and detest King Claudius’s political failings than King Hamlet’s. If so, then Shakespeare’s play Hamlet , so often seen as the birth of modern psychology, might also tell us a little bit about the beginnings of modern politics as well.

Chapter Three Horatio as Author: Storytelling and Stoic Tragedy

This chapter addresses Horatio’s emotionlessness in light of his role as a narrator, using this discussion to think about Shakespeare’s motives for writing tragedy in the wake of his son’s death. By rationalizing pain and suffering as tragedy, both Horatio and Shakespeare were able to avoid the self-destruction entailed in Hamlet’s emotional response to life’s hardships and injustices. Thus, the stoic Horatio, rather than the passionate Hamlet who repeatedly interrupts ‘The Mousetrap’, is the best authorial avatar for a Shakespeare who strategically wrote himself and his own voice out of his works. This argument then expands into a theory of ‘authorial catharsis’ and the suggestion that we can conceive of Shakespeare as a ‘poet of reason’ in contrast to a ‘poet of emotion’.

Chapter Four “To thine own self be true”: What Shakespeare Says about Sending Our Children Off to College

What does “To thine own self be true” actually mean? Be yourself? Don’t change who you are? Follow your own convictions? Don’t lie to yourself? This chapter argues that, if we understand meaning as intent, then “To thine own self be true” means, paradoxically, that “the self” does not exist. Or, more accurately, Shakespeare’s Hamlet implies that “the self” exists only as a rhetorical, philosophical, and psychological construct that we use to make sense of our experiences and actions in the world, not as anything real. If this is so, then this passage may offer us a way of thinking about Shakespeare as not just a playwright but also a moral philosopher, one who did his ethics in drama.

Chapter Five In Defense of Polonius

Your wife dies. You raise two children by yourself. You build a great career to provide for your family. You send your son off to college in another country, though you know he’s not ready. Now the prince wants to marry your daughter—that’s not easy to navigate. Then—get this—while you’re trying to save the queen’s life, the prince murders you. Your death destroys your kids. They die tragically. And what do you get for your efforts? Centuries of Shakespeare scholars dumping on you. If we see Polonius not through the eyes of his enemy, Prince Hamlet—the point of view Shakespeare’s play asks audiences to adopt—but in analogy to the common challenges of twenty-first-century parenting, Polonius is a single father struggling with work-life balance who sadly choses his career over his daughter’s well-being.

Chapter Six Sigma Alpha Elsinore: The Culture of Drunkenness in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Claudius likes to party—a bit too much. He frequently binge drinks, is arguably an alcoholic, but not an aberration. Hamlet says Denmark is internationally known for heavy drinking. That’s what Shakespeare would have heard in the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth, English writers feared Denmark had taught their nation its drinking habits. Synthesizing criticism on alcoholism as an individual problem in Shakespeare’s texts and times with scholarship on national drinking habits in the early-modern age, this essay asks what the tragedy of alcoholism looks like when located not on the level of the individual, but on the level of a culture, as Shakespeare depicted in Hamlet. One window into these early-modern cultures of drunkenness is sociological studies of American college fraternities, especially the social-learning theories that explain how one person—one culture—teaches another its habits. For Claudius’s alcoholism is both culturally learned and culturally significant. And, as in fraternities, alcoholism in Hamlet is bound up with wealth, privilege, toxic masculinity, and tragedy. Thus, alcohol imagistically reappears in the vial of “cursed hebona,” Ophelia’s liquid death, and the poisoned cup in the final scene—moments that stand out in recent performances and adaptations with alcoholic Claudiuses and Gertrudes.

Chapter Seven Tragic Foundationalism

This chapter puts the modern philosopher Alain Badiou’s theory of foundationalism into dialogue with the early-modern playwright William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet . Doing so allows us to identify a new candidate for Hamlet’s traditionally hard-to-define hamartia – i.e., his “tragic mistake” – but it also allows us to consider the possibility of foundationalism as hamartia. Tragic foundationalism is the notion that fidelity to a single and substantive truth at the expense of an openness to evidence, reason, and change is an acute mistake which can lead to miscalculations of fact and virtue that create conflict and can end up in catastrophic destruction and the downfall of otherwise strong and noble people.

Chapter Eight “As a stranger give it welcome”: Shakespeare’s Advice for First-Year College Students

Encountering a new idea can be like meeting a strange person for the first time. Similarly, we dismiss new ideas before we get to know them. There is an answer to the problem of the human antipathy to strangeness in a somewhat strange place: a single line usually overlooked in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet . If the ghost is “wondrous strange,” Hamlet says, invoking the ancient ethics of hospitality, “Therefore as a stranger give it welcome.” In this word, strange, and the social conventions attached to it, is both the instinctual, animalistic fear and aggression toward what is new and different (the problem) and a cultivated, humane response in hospitality and curiosity (the solution). Intellectual xenia is the answer to intellectual xenophobia.

Chapter Nine Parallels in Hamlet

Hamlet is more parallely than other texts. Fortinbras, Hamlet, and Laertes have their fathers murdered, then seek revenge. Brothers King Hamlet and King Claudius mirror brothers Old Norway and Old Fortinbras. Hamlet and Ophelia both lose their fathers, go mad, but there’s a method in their madness, and become suicidal. King Hamlet and Polonius are both domineering fathers. Hamlet and Polonius are both scholars, actors, verbose, pedantic, detectives using indirection, spying upon others, “by indirections find directions out." King Hamlet and King Claudius are both kings who are killed. Claudius using Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet mirrors Polonius using Reynaldo to spy on Laertes. Reynaldo and Hamlet both pretend to be something other than what they are in order to spy on and detect foes. Young Fortinbras and Prince Hamlet both have their forward momentum “arrest[ed].” Pyrrhus and Hamlet are son seeking revenge but paused a “neutral to his will.” The main plot of Hamlet reappears in the play-within-the-play. The Act I duel between King Hamlet and Old Fortinbras echoes in the Act V duel between Hamlet and Laertes. Claudius and Hamlet are both king killers. Sheesh—why are there so many dang parallels in Hamlet ? Is there some detectable reason why the story of Hamlet would call for the literary device of parallelism?

Chapter Ten Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Why Hamlet Has Two Childhood Friends, Not Just One

Why have two of Hamlet’s childhood friends rather than just one? Do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have individuated personalities? First of all, by increasing the number of friends who visit Hamlet, Shakespeare creates an atmosphere of being outnumbered, of multiple enemies encroaching upon Hamlet, of Hamlet feeling that the world is against him. Second, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not interchangeable, as commonly thought. Shakespeare gave each an individuated personality. Guildenstern is friendlier with Hamlet, and their friendship collapses, while Rosencrantz is more distant and devious—a frenemy.

Chapter Eleven Shakespeare on the Classics, Shakespeare as a Classic: A Reading of Aeneas’s Tale to Dido

Of all the stories Shakespeare might have chosen, why have Hamlet ask the players to recite Aeneas’ tale to Dido of Pyrrhus’s slaughter of Priam? In this story, which comes not from Homer’s Iliad but from Virgil’s Aeneid and had already been adapted for the Elizabethan stage in Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragedy of Dido, Pyrrhus – more commonly known as Neoptolemus, the son of the famous Greek warrior Achilles – savagely slays Priam, the king of the Trojans and the father of Paris, who killed Pyrrhus’s father, Achilles, who killed Paris’s brother, Hector, who killed Achilles’s comrade, Patroclus. Clearly, the theme of revenge at work in this story would have appealed to Shakespeare as he was writing what would become the greatest revenge tragedy of all time. Moreover, Aeneas’s tale to Dido supplied Shakespeare with all of the connections he sought to make at this crucial point in his play and his career – connections between himself and Marlowe, between the start of Hamlet and the end, between Prince Hamlet and King Claudius, between epic poetry and tragic drama, and between the classical literature Shakespeare was still reading hundreds of years later and his own potential as a classic who might (and would) be read hundreds of years into the future.

Chapter Twelve How Theater Works, according to Hamlet

According to Hamlet, people who are guilty of a crime will, when seeing that crime represented on stage, “proclaim [their] malefactions”—but that simply isn’t how theater works. Guilty people sit though shows that depict their crimes all the time without being prompted to public confession. Why did Shakespeare—a remarkably observant student of theater—write this demonstrably false theory of drama into his protagonist? And why did Shakespeare then write the plot of the play to affirm that obviously inaccurate vision of theater? For Claudius is indeed stirred to confession by the play-within-the-play. Perhaps Hamlet’s theory of people proclaiming malefactions upon seeing their crimes represented onstage is not as outlandish as it first appears. Perhaps four centuries of obsession with Hamlet is the English-speaking world proclaiming its malefactions upon seeing them represented dramatically.

Chapter Thirteen “To be, or not to be”: Shakespeare Against Philosophy

This chapter hazards a new reading of the most famous passage in Western literature: “To be, or not to be” from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet . With this line, Hamlet poses his personal struggle, a question of life and death, as a metaphysical problem, as a question of existence and nothingness. However, “To be, or not to be” is not what it seems to be. It seems to be a representation of tragic angst, yet a consideration of the context of the speech reveals that “To be, or not to be” is actually a satire of philosophy and Shakespeare’s representation of the theatricality of everyday life. In this chapter, a close reading of the context and meaning of this passage leads into an attempt to formulate a Shakespearean image of philosophy.

Chapter Fourteen Contagious Suicide in and Around Hamlet

As in society today, suicide is contagious in Hamlet , at least in the example of Ophelia, the only death by suicide in the play, because she only becomes suicidal after hearing Hamlet talk about his own suicidal thoughts in “To be, or not to be.” Just as there are media guidelines for reporting on suicide, there are better and worse ways of handling Hamlet . Careful suicide coverage can change public misperceptions and reduce suicide contagion. Is the same true for careful literary criticism and classroom discussion of suicide texts? How can teachers and literary critics reduce suicide contagion and increase help-seeking behavior?

Chapter Fifteen Is Hamlet a Sexist Text? Overt Misogyny vs. Unconscious Bias

Students and fans of Shakespeare’s Hamlet persistently ask a question scholars and critics of the play have not yet definitively answered: is it a sexist text? The author of this text has been described as everything from a male chauvinist pig to a trailblazing proto-feminist, but recent work on the science behind discrimination and prejudice offers a new, better vocabulary in the notion of unconscious bias. More pervasive and slippery than explicit bigotry, unconscious bias involves the subtle, often unintentional words and actions which indicate the presence of biases we may not be aware of, ones we may even fight against. The Shakespeare who wrote Hamlet exhibited an unconscious bias against women, I argue, even as he sought to critique the mistreatment of women in a patriarchal society. The evidence for this unconscious bias is not to be found in the misogynistic statements made by the characters in the play. It exists, instead, in the demonstrable preference Shakespeare showed for men over women when deciding where to deploy his literary talents. Thus, Shakespeare's Hamlet is a powerful literary example – one which speaks to, say, the modern corporation – showing that deliberate efforts for egalitarianism do not insulate one from the effects of structural inequalities that both stem from and create unconscious bias.

Chapter Sixteen Style and Purpose in Acting and Writing

Purpose and style are connected in academic writing. To answer the question of style ( How should we write academic papers? ) we must first answer the question of purpose ( Why do we write academic papers? ). We can answer these questions, I suggest, by turning to an unexpected style guide that’s more than 400 years old: the famous passage on “the purpose of playing” in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet . In both acting and writing, a high style often accompanies an expressive purpose attempting to impress an elite audience yet actually alienating intellectual people, while a low style and mimetic purpose effectively engage an intellectual audience.

Chapter Seventeen 13 Ways of Looking at a Ghost

Why doesn’t Gertrude see the Ghost of King Hamlet in Act III, even though Horatio, Bernardo, Francisco, Marcellus, and Prince Hamlet all saw it in Act I? It’s a bit embarrassing that Shakespeare scholars don’t have a widely agreed-upon consensus that explains this really basic question that puzzles a lot of people who read or see Hamlet .

Chapter Eighteen The Tragedy of Love in Hamlet

The word “love” appears 84 times in Shakespeare’s Hamlet . “Father” only appears 73 times, “play” 60, “think” 55, “mother” 46, “mad” 44, “soul” 40, “God" 39, “death” 38, “life” 34, “nothing” 28, “son” 26, “honor” 21, “spirit” 19, “kill” 18, “revenge” 14, and “action” 12. Love isn’t the first theme that comes to mind when we think of Hamlet , but is surprisingly prominent. But love is tragic in Hamlet . The bloody catastrophe at the end of that play is principally driven not by hatred or a longing for revenge, but by love.

Chapter Nineteen Ophelia’s Songs: Moral Agency, Manipulation, and the Metaphor of Music in Hamlet

This chapter reads Ophelia’s songs in Act IV of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the context of the meaning of music established elsewhere in the play. While the songs are usually seen as a marker of Ophelia’s madness (as a result of the death of her father) or freedom (from the constraints of patriarchy), they come – when read in light of the metaphor of music as manipulation – to symbolize her role as a pawn in Hamlet’s efforts to deceive his family. Thus, music was Shakespeare’s platform for connecting Ophelia’s story to one of the central questions in Hamlet : Do we have control over our own actions (like the musician), or are we controlled by others (like the instrument)?

Chapter Twenty A Quantitative Study of Prose and Verse in Hamlet

Why does Hamlet have so much prose? Did Shakespeare deliberately shift from verse to prose to signal something to his audiences? How would actors have handled the shifts from verse to prose? Would audiences have detected shifts from verse to prose? Is there an overarching principle that governs Shakespeare’s decision to use prose—a coherent principle that says, “If X, then use prose?”

Chapter Twenty-One The Fortunes of Fate in Hamlet : Divine Providence and Social Determinism

In Hamlet , fate is attacked from both sides: “fortune” presents a world of random happenstance, “will” a theory of efficacious human action. On this backdrop, this essay considers—irrespective of what the characters say and believe—what the structure and imagery Shakespeare wrote into Hamlet say about the possibility that some version of fate is at work in the play. I contend the world of Hamlet is governed by neither fate nor fortune, nor even the Christianized version of fate called “providence.” Yet there is a modern, secular, disenchanted form of fate at work in Hamlet—what is sometimes called “social determinism”—which calls into question the freedom of the individual will. As such, Shakespeare’s Hamlet both commented on the transformation of pagan fate into Christian providence that happened in the centuries leading up to the play, and anticipated the further transformation of fate from a theological to a sociological idea, which occurred in the centuries following Hamlet .

Chapter Twenty-Two The Working Class in Hamlet

There’s a lot for working-class folks to hate about Hamlet —not just because it’s old, dusty, difficult to understand, crammed down our throats in school, and filled with frills, tights, and those weird lace neck thingies that are just socially awkward to think about. Peak Renaissance weirdness. Claustrophobicly cloistered inside the castle of Elsinore, quaintly angsty over royal family problems, Hamlet feels like the literary epitome of elitism. “Lawless resolutes” is how the Wittenberg scholar Horatio describes the soldiers who join Fortinbras’s army in exchange “for food.” The Prince Hamlet who has never worked a day in his life denigrates Polonius as a “fishmonger”: quite the insult for a royal advisor to be called a working man. And King Claudius complains of the simplicity of "the distracted multitude.” But, in Hamlet , Shakespeare juxtaposed the nobles’ denigrations of the working class as readily available metaphors for all-things-awful with the rather valuable behavior of working-class characters themselves. When allowed to represent themselves, the working class in Hamlet are characterized as makers of things—of material goods and services like ships, graves, and plays, but also of ethical and political virtues like security, education, justice, and democracy. Meanwhile, Elsinore has a bad case of affluenza, the make-believe disease invented by an American lawyer who argued that his client's social privilege was so great that it created an obliviousness to law. While social elites rot society through the twin corrosives of political corruption and scholarly detachment, the working class keeps the machine running. They build the ships, plays, and graves society needs to function, and monitor the nuts-and-bolts of the ideals—like education and justice—that we aspire to uphold.

Chapter Twenty-Three The Honor Code at Harvard and in Hamlet

Students at Harvard College are asked, when they first join the school and several times during their years there, to affirm their awareness of and commitment to the school’s honor code. But instead of “the foundation of our community” that it is at Harvard, honor is tragic in Hamlet —a source of anxiety, blunder, and catastrophe. As this chapter shows, looking at Hamlet from our place at Harvard can bring us to see what a tangled knot honor can be, and we can start to theorize the difference between heroic and tragic honor.

Chapter Twenty-Four The Meaning of Death in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

By connecting the ways characters live their lives in Hamlet to the ways they die – on-stage or off, poisoned or stabbed, etc. – Shakespeare symbolized hamartia in catastrophe. In advancing this argument, this chapter develops two supporting ideas. First, the dissemination of tragic necessity: Shakespeare distributed the Aristotelian notion of tragic necessity – a causal relationship between a character’s hamartia (fault or error) and the catastrophe at the end of the play – from the protagonist to the other characters, such that, in Hamlet , those who are guilty must die, and those who die are guilty. Second, the spectacularity of death: there exists in Hamlet a positive correlation between the severity of a character’s hamartia (error or flaw) and the “spectacularity” of his or her death – that is, the extent to which it is presented as a visible and visceral spectacle on-stage.

Chapter Twenty-Five Tragic Excess in Hamlet

In Hamlet , Shakespeare paralleled the situations of Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras (the father of each is killed, and each then seeks revenge) to promote the virtue of moderation: Hamlet moves too slowly, Laertes too swiftly – and they both die at the end of the play – but Fortinbras represents a golden mean which marries the slowness of Hamlet with the swiftness of Laertes. As argued in this essay, Shakespeare endorsed the virtue of balance by allowing Fortinbras to be one of the very few survivors of the play. In other words, excess is tragic in Hamlet .


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Loftis, Sonya Freeman; Allison Kellar; and Lisa Ulevich, ed. Shakespeare's Hamlet in an Era of Textual Exhaustion . New York, NY: Routledge, 2018.

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Gottschalk, Paul. The Meanings of Hamlet: Modes of Literary Interpretation Since Bradley . Albequerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1972.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Hamlet in Purgatory . Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001.

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Iyengar, Sujata. "Gertrude/Ophelia: Feminist Intermediality, Ekphrasis, and Tenderness in Hamlet," in Loomba, Rethinking Feminism In Early Modern Studies: Race, Gender, and Sexuality (2016), 165-84.

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William Shakespeare: Hamlet’s Actions and Inactions Essay (Critical Writing)

“Hamlet” is a play for all times. Its protagonist is a contradictory and mysterious person. If he is guided by blind revenge or righteous feel of justice, why he hesitates and lingers to punish culprits if he is prudent or light-minded – these adages may be united under two maxims:” Look before you leap” and “He who hesitates is lost”. This paper is an attempt to analyze Hamlet’s actions and inactions to prove the authenticity of the application of these maxims to the protagonist.

Although the scene of the play is laid in the Danish Kingdom, the problems involve the whole of mankind to think over this play. In the first act, we get acquainted with Hamlet and it gives us some intellectual challenge. The protagonist is a noble hero, he has a philosophical set of minds, he judges everything from the height of moral virtues, but he has found himself in a complicated and even tragic predicament after having known about his mother and uncles betray. The old world is destructed, and the Ghost asks Hamlet to take responsibility and revenge for his father’s death and restore universal justice. Hamlet obeys the Ghost and is careless of consequences. Here we see the first “leap” of Hamlet because he takes too much upon himself. But this proves the Prince to be an ideal person of the Renaissance.

Hamlet disguises himself as a madman. He should convince everybody that he has gone insane. Being a jester gives an opportunity to tell everything he thinks about. The Prince gives praise to Human beings, calls him perfect, but here we hear the disappointment in life values. All Universal lacks any sense. Hamlet became animated when remembering an old play about the murder of Priam by Pyrrhus. This scene has a very emotional moment when the Prince remembers Priam’s wife Hecuba. For Hamlet it is very important: Hecuba is a faithful wife and Queen Gertrude – not. Anguish comes to the surface again, but reproaches about inaction mingle with this anguish. Why does he linger? Why not avenge his father’s death? He is angry with himself and calls himself pejorative names: “what a rogue and peasant slave am I” (Hamlet, Act II). This is an example of his hesitations.

The famous soliloquy “To be or not to be” is the culmination of Hamlet’s doubts. “To suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Hamlet, Act III) directly refers to the situation Hamlet is in: to fight against evil or avoid struggle. Desires controvert virtues. Hesitation is grounded on fear. The Prince is afraid to suffer a defeat. His views on life are destructed, and his goddess Justice is blind. Does he have enough powers to resist the temptation of inactivity and sleep peacefully? Once again, the Prince is prevented from action by his hesitancy. Hamlet does not moralize. He is lost in the world, lost in his hesitations. He cannot draw a demarcation line between reality and his feigned insanity. Hamlet chooses “to be”, but “to be” means to die. He claims that death is inevitable, but hesitates because it is unknown as well. The soliloquy expresses Hamlet’s torment of mind. He is determined to kill the King, but he is unsure if it will bring good or harm.

Now nothing can stop Hamlet and there is a right moment. Hamlet finds Claudius praying, but he cannot kill him. The prayer defends the King and Hamlet does not want him to die sinless. It leads to Heaven, but Claudius does not deserve it. And here Hamlet should think before he leaps. The Prince just excuses his hesitation by waiting for some other appropriate fatal occasion. He wants his revenge to be perfect and edifying. If not – he refuses it completely. He has no time to consider the circumstances and kills Polonius, once more “leaping” before thinking.

Laertes wants to compete in fencing with Hamlet and kill him during this duel. Laertes’ sword will be poisoned and the Prince will die from the wound. Hamlet is tortured by forebodings of evil. Horatio suggests declining the duel. But Hamlet’s response astonishes by its wisdom. Come what may, what must be will be, there exists some Divine power that rules the world – such thoughts occur in Hamlet’s mind for the first time.

Hamlet is uncertain whether he can believe the Ghost. He scruples to trust everybody: Ophelia, Horatio, Gertrude. He is even unsure of himself. When a troupe of actors comes, he gets inspired with his new intention. To re-act, the murder of his father means to punish the culprits. Hamlet mocks the evils of life, thus trying to delete them from reality. He is just satisfied when everybody sees that it is his uncle who has killed Hamlet’s father. His suspicions are confirmed, but he never tries to return for evil. And it happens but by an accident. Hamlet makes no attempt to punish the King. So Hamlet “leaps” into the struggle, but with much hesitation. On one hand, he is a loser, because he died, on the other – a winner, because culprits endured the punishment. He reflects upon his infirmity but does not try to put his intentions into practice. He is obsessed with thinking, not acting. This is his essence and escapes from reality. Only death can bring deliverance and oblivion from uncertainty.

Hamlet is not remarkable for willpower or determination, foresight and deep consideration. But we enjoy refined thoughts and genuine sentiments of his. The Prince lacks deliberateness in actions; he rushes to the whirl of life on the spur of the occasion. If Hamlet were a man of action, he might have killed Claudius at once together with the Queen. And everybody would think him to be a cruel murderer. If he were more prudent, he could have avoided his death and become a King himself. But could he be a good King for his people? A hesitating and indiscreet king can ruin his kingdom. He could save Ophelia, innocent victim of his indifference, Laertes, noble and loving brother. But Hamlet breaks the equilibrium of imaginative and authentic worlds, and reality turns out to be crueler than his fictional insanity. Skepticism, accompanying Hamlet, makes him vulnerable, as only strong beliefs can bring to actions. What if Hamlet has not believed the Ghost at all? Maybe it is conscience that came to him, and if he had not listened to it, his life would be full of scruples of remorse facing his father’s memory. Hamlet, the flesh and blood of his mother, wanted to sentence her to death, and if he had not been stopped by the Ghost, a fatal mistake could have been made.

It is controversial if Hamlet is a hero or a pure madman with judicious observations; his motives are mixed and vague. But we can find Hamlet in ourselves. Like him, we hesitate before an important decision and overestimate our powers. It is in human nature and when Hamlet speaks, he speaks on behalf of all people.

Works Cited

Shakespeare William. Hamlet. NY: Dover Publications, 2004.

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Uncertainty in Hamlet: Themes of Doubt and Indecision

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hamlet's downfall essay

Study Like a Boss

Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw

It is better not to put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Many consequences can arise when one procrastinates. An example of this is found in Shakespeare’s Hamlet through the depiction of the central character. Although Hamlet is characterized as daring, brave, loyal, and intelligent, he is overwhelmed by his own conscience. The tragic hero is defined as one whose downfall is brought about due to their tragic flaw. Hamlet’s inability to act on his father’s murder, his mother’s marriage, and his uncle assuming of the thrown are all evidence of his tragic flaw of procrastination.

Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” demands the ghost in (Act I, Scene 5, line 23). The fact that his own uncle could kill his father leaves Hamlet enraged and confused. Although Hamlet knows something is wrong in Denmark, he begins to question everything that the ghost has told him. In this scenario that calls for quick decisive behavior, Hamlet is too busy thinking . An example of this is seen in Act III , when Hamlet has his knife over the head of Claudius, prepared to murder him, and talks himself out of it.

Instead, Hamlet writes a play in which the actors play out the same story the ghost tells Hamlet. His plan is to study Claudius’s reaction to the play to determine his guilt. Even after Hamlet decides his uncle is guilty, Hamlet fails to take immediate action. This would have been a prime opportunity to confront Claudius, but Hamlet seems more interested in patting himself on the back than seeking revenge. Throughout the play Hamlet is deeply hurt by his mother’s decision to remarry his uncle.

As Hamlet so boldly states “Frailty thy name is woman” the reader realizes her actions cause Hamlet to curse women all together (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 146). In the first Act, Claudius and Gertrude question Hamlet’s depression. They push Hamlet to accept his father’s death and move on with his life . While Hamlet should admit his hatred of their marriage, he hides his feeling. While Hamlet is suppressing his feelings , he becomes more enraged at their attempts to calm him. Gertrude is also aware of Hamlet’s feelings for Ophelia and uses this as an excuse for Hamlet’s actions.

Hamlet has ample time to confess the cause of his madness. Unfortunately, Hamlet allows his mother to think he is madly in love rather than tell the truth. After Hamlet delivers his play and sees guilt in his uncle, Gertrude sends for Hamlet. Instead of doing physical damage to his mother, he insist on her confession. If not for Hamlet’s procrastination, her confession could have taken place earlier in the play. This could save him from a great deal of pain and leave his thoughts for other problems. Hamlet’s biggest obstacle in avenging his father’s murder is Claudius being crowned king .

With Claudius being in such a powerful position, Hamlet has to be cautious in his actions. Hamlet not only has to kill his father’s murderer, but the king as well. The church was against the wedding from the start and would side with Hamlet. Instead of Hamlet denouncing his mother’s wedding and the crowning of his uncle, he is silent. During the play, Claudius shouts “Give me some light. Away” and Hamlet was sure of his uncle’s guilt (Act III, Scene 2, Line 152). This was the perfect time for Hamlet to face Claudius.

The king was in a venerable state and could have been easily dethroned. Unfortunately, Hamlet decides to speak to his mother instead, thus putting Hamlet in an emotional state of mind and giving Claudius time to regroup. Although Hamlet seemed to be superior in all other characteristics, his one flaw cost him his life. Inevitably, it cost the lives of many others as well. If Hamlet could have taken immediate action, many deaths could have been avoided. Although Hamlet succeeds in his quest for revenge, his procrastination proves to be his flaw in every event.

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Essay: Hamlet is responsible for his downfall

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When students do not do their homework, they are denying the benefits that the practice allows them to get. Sometimes they will complain about the volume of the homework or the difficulty and they would not attempt it. However, if the students choose not to do their homework, the student will most likely receive a lower mark than he or she would have received compared to when the student completes his or her homework. His or her inability to do the homework is ultimately the cause of their own downfall.

Everyone has flaws that lead to undesirable outcomes. This applies to literature, especially to Shakespeare’s tragic heroes. Shakespeare’s protagonists in all of his works cause their own downfall in one way or another and Hamlet, in every sense, is no exception. Just as students choose to not do their homework, Hamlet avoids killing Claudius on many occasions. Hamlet is one of the most notable Shakespearian heroes whose flaws lead to his own downfall.

One of Hamlet’s most dominant flaws is that he over analyzes most situations that he is put in. Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s death but procrastinates murdering Claudius on multiple occasions. From act one to act three, Hamlet avoids killing Claudius based on traditional knowledge about ghosts in that time period. The ghost that appears to Hamlet could be there for one of two reasons: The apparition could either be a demon whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc or the ghost of someone who has died who has unfinished business. Prior to Hamlet discovering the true nature of the ghost, he has many opportunities to kill Claudius. However, due to the nature of his convoluted schemes, he fails to do so. Although he feels the need to confirm the true nature of the ghost, during the Elizibethan era that Hamlet took place, it would not have been out of the question if he immediately goes to kill Claudius after receiving the news that he had murdered Old Hamlet. It would have been tradition to exact revenge on someone who has killed a family member. However, Hamlet chooses to ensure that the ghost is not a demon. Hamlet uses the play, The Murder of Gonzago, as a tactic to confirm whether the ghost is a demon or a ghost with unfinished business. He shows this when he states,

The spirit that I have seen/ T’assume a pleasing shape, … Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have grounds/ More relative than this. The play’s the thing/ Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. (2.2.585-592)

After the play concludes, Hamlet confirms that the ghost is truly his father who has come back for unfinished business. Hamlet tells Horatio,

“I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound. / Didst perceive” (3.2.275-276).

Then Horatio replies,

“I did very well note him” (3.2.279).

After this revelation, Hamlet continues to postpone the murder of Claudius. Hamlet has a chance to murder Claudius during his confession but Hamlet forgoes this opportunity because he believes that Claudius is confessing his sins, and in Catholosism, people who confess their sins, with the intention of forgiveness, go to Heaven. Hamlet knows that if he kills Claudius now, Claudius will go to Heaven. So he questions,

“To take him in the purging of his soul,/ When he is fit and season’d for passage?/ No” (3.3.85-87).

Hamlet is overthinking the consequences of killing Claudius instead of going through with his revenge. He does not want Claudius to go to Heaven so he plans to wait until Claudius is committing a sin so he could kill him then and cause Claudius to go to Hell. Hamlet explains,

“When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage,/ … that his soul may be as damn’d and black/ As Hell, whereto it goes” (3.3.89,94-95).

However, after Hamlet exits, the audience finds out that Claudius had not hoped to be forgiven because he does not want to give up his spoils. If Hamlet had chosen to kill Claudius at that point, he would not have gone through the motions that led to his own downfall and Claudius would have gone to Hell. Hamlet causes his own downfall by dwelling on every situation in depth rather than acting.

Another trait that led to Hamlet’s downfall is his impulsiveness. The first occurrence of this trait is when he kills Polonius thinking he is Claudius which, in turn, will be one of the driving forces for Laertes’ revenge. The second is how Hamlet causes Ophelia’s madness by treating her like a pawn in his plans. Hamlet putting on an “antic disposition” distresses Ophelia further. In addition, he causes Ophelia grief by murdering her father which then leads her to become crazy. Polonius’ death and Ophelia’s madness are ultimately what causes Laertes to exact revenge on Hamlet. Laertes swears against Hamlet by declaring,

“To hell, allegiance! Vows to the blackest devil!/ Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!/ I dare damnation. To this point I stand, That both the worlds I give to negligence,/ Let come what comes. (4.5.130-135)

When Hamlet impulsively causes the two most important people to Laertes to die, he is only sealing his eventual fate. Another instance in the play where Hamlet’s impulsiveness led to his downfall is when he interrupts the The Murder of Gonzago. While the players are acting out The Murder of Gonzago, Hamlet impulsively gets out of his chair and joins the play. The audience believes that this is a part of the play: However, Claudius is aware to the fact that Hamlet knows that he killed Old Hamlet. Although Claudius was always wary of Hamlet, he is now certain that he should send Hamlet to England to have him killed. This is proven when Claudius proclaims,

I like him not, nor stands it safe with us/ To let his madness range. … your commission will forthwith dispatch, / And he to England along with you./ The terms of our estate may not endure/ Hazard so near us as doth hourly grow. (3.2.1-6)

Also, when the King of Denmark states,

“The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;/ For like the hectic in my blood he rages, / And thou must cure me” (4.3.65-68),

the audience becomes aware that he plans to have Hamlet killed. If Hamlet had not jumped in and joined the players during the part where Claudius poured poison in Old Hamlet’s ear, Hamlet would not have aroused suspicion and would have been able to methodically plan his next move. This shows that when Hamlet acts impulsively he is causing his downfall to be inevitable.

Through his own faults, Hamlet is responsible for his downfall. He overthinks most situations; this in turn causes him to continually postpone Claudius’ death: Nevertheless, Hamlet acts impulsively when the situation is least optimal for him to do so. This impulsive nature causes the people around him to become more wary of him. His spontaneous actions ultimately puts more attention to his schemes and his overthinking gives his enemies more time to plot against him. As students have to accept the consequences that come with not doing their homework, Hamlet must face the consequences of postponing Claudius’ eventual death.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Roma Gill. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.


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  • Explore the Madness Behind Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”: Grief, Irony, and Botany as Dirvens of Insanity

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Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw Procrastination Essay

Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays, and its title character has been the subject of much analysis over the years. Hamlet is widely recognized as a tragic hero – but why? Many would say that Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his indecisiveness.

Hamlet spends most of the play agonizing over his next move, and this causes him to make some bad decisions that lead to his downfall. Hamlet also has a tendency to over-think things, which often leads to him making the wrong call. These flaws ultimately cause Hamlet’s death, and make him one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters.

It is better not to put off till tomorrow what you can do today. When individuals delay, various negative effects may occur. The example of this may be found in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which the protagonist is depicted. Despite being courageous, brave, loyal, and intelligent, Hamlet is overwhelmed by his own sense of guilt. A tragic flaw is one that causes a hero’s downfall. Hamlet’s failure to act on his father’s murder, his mother’s marriage to Claudius, and his uncle Bernardo taking the throne are all examples of his fatal flaw: delay.

Hamlet continuously puts off taking action until it is too late, which leads to his ultimate downfall. Hamlet’s tragic flaw is what makes the play interesting and complex. It causes him to hesitate and doubt himself, which ultimately leads to his death. Hamlet could have prevented his own downfall if he had acted on his feelings and impulses sooner. Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw is a perfect example of how procrastination can lead to disastrous consequences.

Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his lack of action. Hamlet’s inability to commit suicide, his inability to come to terms with murdering his mother, his failure to put on a play as a delaying tactic, and his incapability to kill Claudius while he’s praying all reveal that he does nothing.

Hamlet often talks about how he wants to take action, but when it comes time to do so, he backs down. Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his unwillingness to act, which leads to his downfall.

Hamlet’s uncle poisoned his father and then murdered him, bringing the ghost’s words back to life: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” (Act I, Scene 5, line 23) Hamlet is enraged and perplexed by the fact that his own uncle could kill his father. Despite Hamlet’s knowledge of Denmark’s issues, he begins to question everything the ghost has told him. In situations where quick decisive action is required, Hamlet is too involved in thinking. For example, during Act III when Hamlet has a knife over Claudius’ head about to behead him but stops himself just before it happens because

Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to take action when it is needed most. Hamlet can be seen as a man who is unable to act, even when faced with what he believes to be an injustice. Hamlet’s ineffectiveness in dealing with his problems leads to his downfall. Hamlet’s Delay also causes him to suffer from another Tragic Flaw, which is Hamlet’s overthinking.

Hamlet’s soliloquies such as “To Be or Not To Be” show Hamlet deeply thinking about life and death. Hamlet also overthink things like whether the Ghost was really his father or if he should take action against Claudius. If Hamlet did not overthink things, he would have been able to take action and save himself from his downfall.

Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw is also his Hamartia which is his fatal flaw. Hamlet’s tragic flaw is what leads to his death in the end. Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw could be seen as a lack of decisiveness, which causes him to suffer from many problems. Hamlet also has issues with trust, as seen when he does not believe that Gertrude was faithful to his father. Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw can be seen as a problem that ultimately leads to his downfall.

Another perplexity in Hamlet’s status as a tragic hero emerges from his tragedy flaw. Given that Hamlet himself fault himself for being tardy in taking justice, readers frequently cite this as his indecision, which is understandable.

Hamlet’s fatal flaw, then, is twofold: he is too reflective and he fails to act when action is called for. Hamlet’s Hamartia of overthinking leads him down a dark path of inaction and despair.

Hamlet instead creates a play in which the actors reenact the same tale that the ghost tells him. His strategy is to observe Claudius’ reaction to the play in order to determine his guilt. Even after Hamlet decides his uncle is guilty, he fails to act immediately. This was an excellent moment to confront Claudius, but Hamlet appears more focused on himself than taking vengeance. Throughout the play, Hamlet suffers from his mother’s choice to marry his uncle again.

Hamlet’s relationship with his mother is one of the main sources of Hamlet’s delay. Hamlet is so distraught by her disloyalty that he can’t bring himself to kill Claudius when he has the chance. Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to take action, which leads to further pain and suffering. Hamlet’s inaction stems from his indecisiveness, cowardice, and preoccupation with revenge. Hamlet’s tragic flaw ultimately destroys him and those around him.

The phrase “Frailty is woman’s name” emphasizes the inherent weakness of women and Hamlet’s conclusion that “women are frail.” The reader understands her actions cause Hamlet to despise women altogether (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 146). Claudius and Gertrude question Hamlet’s sadness in the first Act. They push him to accept his father’s passing and move on with his life.

While Hamlet should acknowledge his hatred of their marriage, he hides it. As Hamlet grows more enraged at their attempts to calm him, Gertrude takes notice of his feelings for Ophelia. She utilizes this as an excuse for Hamlet’s conduct.

Hamlet is aware of the trap his mother set for him and says “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” (Act 3, Scene 2, Line 290). Hamlet knows that Gertrude loves him and wants what is best for him. Hamlet does not trust himself to kill Claudius because he does not want to become like him. Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to act on his thoughts and feelings. Hamlet waits too long to take action which leads to his downfall.

Hamlet could have easily killed Claudius while he was praying but instead he waited until later that night when Claudius was asleep. Hamlet also allowed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to live which gave Hamlet’s enemies more time to plan his capture. Hamlet’s tragic flaw was his inability to take immediate action and this cost him his life.

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40 Facts About Elektrostal

Lanette Mayes

Written by Lanette Mayes

Modified & Updated: 02 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Elektrostal is a vibrant city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia. With a rich history, stunning architecture, and a thriving community, Elektrostal is a city that has much to offer. Whether you are a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, Elektrostal is sure to captivate you.

This article will provide you with 40 fascinating facts about Elektrostal, giving you a better understanding of why this city is worth exploring. From its origins as an industrial hub to its modern-day charm, we will delve into the various aspects that make Elektrostal a unique and must-visit destination.

So, join us as we uncover the hidden treasures of Elektrostal and discover what makes this city a true gem in the heart of Russia.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elektrostal, known as the “Motor City of Russia,” is a vibrant and growing city with a rich industrial history, offering diverse cultural experiences and a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • With its convenient location near Moscow, Elektrostal provides a picturesque landscape, vibrant nightlife, and a range of recreational activities, making it an ideal destination for residents and visitors alike.

Known as the “Motor City of Russia.”

Elektrostal, a city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia, earned the nickname “Motor City” due to its significant involvement in the automotive industry.

Home to the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Elektrostal is renowned for its metallurgical plant, which has been producing high-quality steel and alloys since its establishment in 1916.

Boasts a rich industrial heritage.

Elektrostal has a long history of industrial development, contributing to the growth and progress of the region.

Founded in 1916.

The city of Elektrostal was founded in 1916 as a result of the construction of the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Located approximately 50 kilometers east of Moscow.

Elektrostal is situated in close proximity to the Russian capital, making it easily accessible for both residents and visitors.

Known for its vibrant cultural scene.

Elektrostal is home to several cultural institutions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage.

A popular destination for nature lovers.

Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and forests, Elektrostal offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and birdwatching.

Hosts the annual Elektrostal City Day celebrations.

Every year, Elektrostal organizes festive events and activities to celebrate its founding, bringing together residents and visitors in a spirit of unity and joy.

Has a population of approximately 160,000 people.

Elektrostal is home to a diverse and vibrant community of around 160,000 residents, contributing to its dynamic atmosphere.

Boasts excellent education facilities.

The city is known for its well-established educational institutions, providing quality education to students of all ages.

A center for scientific research and innovation.

Elektrostal serves as an important hub for scientific research, particularly in the fields of metallurgy, materials science, and engineering.

Surrounded by picturesque lakes.

The city is blessed with numerous beautiful lakes, offering scenic views and recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

Well-connected transportation system.

Elektrostal benefits from an efficient transportation network, including highways, railways, and public transportation options, ensuring convenient travel within and beyond the city.

Famous for its traditional Russian cuisine.

Food enthusiasts can indulge in authentic Russian dishes at numerous restaurants and cafes scattered throughout Elektrostal.

Home to notable architectural landmarks.

Elektrostal boasts impressive architecture, including the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the Elektrostal Palace of Culture.

Offers a wide range of recreational facilities.

Residents and visitors can enjoy various recreational activities, such as sports complexes, swimming pools, and fitness centers, enhancing the overall quality of life.

Provides a high standard of healthcare.

Elektrostal is equipped with modern medical facilities, ensuring residents have access to quality healthcare services.

Home to the Elektrostal History Museum.

The Elektrostal History Museum showcases the city’s fascinating past through exhibitions and displays.

A hub for sports enthusiasts.

Elektrostal is passionate about sports, with numerous stadiums, arenas, and sports clubs offering opportunities for athletes and spectators.

Celebrates diverse cultural festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal hosts a variety of cultural festivals, celebrating different ethnicities, traditions, and art forms.

Electric power played a significant role in its early development.

Elektrostal owes its name and initial growth to the establishment of electric power stations and the utilization of electricity in the industrial sector.

Boasts a thriving economy.

The city’s strong industrial base, coupled with its strategic location near Moscow, has contributed to Elektrostal’s prosperous economic status.

Houses the Elektrostal Drama Theater.

The Elektrostal Drama Theater is a cultural centerpiece, attracting theater enthusiasts from far and wide.

Popular destination for winter sports.

Elektrostal’s proximity to ski resorts and winter sport facilities makes it a favorite destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.

Promotes environmental sustainability.

Elektrostal prioritizes environmental protection and sustainability, implementing initiatives to reduce pollution and preserve natural resources.

Home to renowned educational institutions.

Elektrostal is known for its prestigious schools and universities, offering a wide range of academic programs to students.

Committed to cultural preservation.

The city values its cultural heritage and takes active steps to preserve and promote traditional customs, crafts, and arts.

Hosts an annual International Film Festival.

The Elektrostal International Film Festival attracts filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts from around the world, showcasing a diverse range of films.

Encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.

Elektrostal supports aspiring entrepreneurs and fosters a culture of innovation, providing opportunities for startups and business development.

Offers a range of housing options.

Elektrostal provides diverse housing options, including apartments, houses, and residential complexes, catering to different lifestyles and budgets.

Home to notable sports teams.

Elektrostal is proud of its sports legacy, with several successful sports teams competing at regional and national levels.

Boasts a vibrant nightlife scene.

Residents and visitors can enjoy a lively nightlife in Elektrostal, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.

Promotes cultural exchange and international relations.

Elektrostal actively engages in international partnerships, cultural exchanges, and diplomatic collaborations to foster global connections.

Surrounded by beautiful nature reserves.

Nearby nature reserves, such as the Barybino Forest and Luchinskoye Lake, offer opportunities for nature enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the region’s biodiversity.

Commemorates historical events.

The city pays tribute to significant historical events through memorials, monuments, and exhibitions, ensuring the preservation of collective memory.

Promotes sports and youth development.

Elektrostal invests in sports infrastructure and programs to encourage youth participation, health, and physical fitness.

Hosts annual cultural and artistic festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal celebrates its cultural diversity through festivals dedicated to music, dance, art, and theater.

Provides a picturesque landscape for photography enthusiasts.

The city’s scenic beauty, architectural landmarks, and natural surroundings make it a paradise for photographers.

Connects to Moscow via a direct train line.

The convenient train connection between Elektrostal and Moscow makes commuting between the two cities effortless.

A city with a bright future.

Elektrostal continues to grow and develop, aiming to become a model city in terms of infrastructure, sustainability, and quality of life for its residents.

In conclusion, Elektrostal is a fascinating city with a rich history and a vibrant present. From its origins as a center of steel production to its modern-day status as a hub for education and industry, Elektrostal has plenty to offer both residents and visitors. With its beautiful parks, cultural attractions, and proximity to Moscow, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this dynamic city. Whether you’re interested in exploring its historical landmarks, enjoying outdoor activities, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Elektrostal has something for everyone. So, next time you find yourself in the Moscow region, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of Elektrostal.

Q: What is the population of Elektrostal?

A: As of the latest data, the population of Elektrostal is approximately XXXX.

Q: How far is Elektrostal from Moscow?

A: Elektrostal is located approximately XX kilometers away from Moscow.

Q: Are there any famous landmarks in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to several notable landmarks, including XXXX and XXXX.

Q: What industries are prominent in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal is known for its steel production industry and is also a center for engineering and manufacturing.

Q: Are there any universities or educational institutions in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to XXXX University and several other educational institutions.

Q: What are some popular outdoor activities in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal offers several outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking in its beautiful parks.

Q: Is Elektrostal well-connected in terms of transportation?

A: Yes, Elektrostal has good transportation links, including trains and buses, making it easily accessible from nearby cities.

Q: Are there any annual events or festivals in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including XXXX and XXXX.

Elektrostal's fascinating history, vibrant culture, and promising future make it a city worth exploring. For more captivating facts about cities around the world, discover the unique characteristics that define each city . Uncover the hidden gems of Moscow Oblast through our in-depth look at Kolomna. Lastly, dive into the rich industrial heritage of Teesside, a thriving industrial center with its own story to tell.

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Critic’s notebook

‘The Sympathizer’ Opens a Counteroffensive on Vietnam War Movies

HBO’s series is not just a good story. It’s a sharp piece of film criticism.

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A man in a blue shirt sits in an empty theater.

By James Poniewozik

HBO has long defined itself in contrast to mainstream television — “It’s not TV,” as the slogan goes — but in many ways its history is one of revising and responding to the movies. “The Sopranos” updated the mafia movie (and its characters quoted, and were influenced by, films like “The Godfather”). “Game of Thrones” dirtied up the high-fantasy genre; “Deadwood” the Western; “Watchmen” the superhero story.

But the network has never given us its longform version of, or rebuttal to, one Hollywood staple: the Vietnam War movie (unless one counts the alternative history aspects of “Watchmen”). Until now, with “The Sympathizer,” Park Chan-wook’s kinetic and darkly hilarious adaptation (with the co-showrunner Don McKellar) of the novel by the Vietnamese American author Viet Thanh Nguyen.

The seven-episode series is many things. It’s an exploration of dual identity: The protagonist, known only as the Captain ( Hoa Xuande ), is a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist double agent planted as an aide to the General (Toan Le), a leader of the South Vietnamese secret police. It’s a spy thriller, a satire of colonialism and its many faces — many of them Robert Downey Jr.’s — and an exploration of the complications of love and memory.

But it’s also an intense dialogue and argument with the movies. It is simultaneously its own Vietnam War movie, bold, inventive and sometimes bloody, as well as a pointed, detailed work of movie criticism.

In “The Sympathizer,” which began airing in April, the movies are a continuation of war by other means. Its fixation on film begins early. Retelling his story in a postwar re-education camp — the framing device for the series — the Captain recalls watching the vicious interrogation of a communist agent on the stage of a movie theater, where the marquee sign for “Emmanuelle” is coming down, and the one for Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish” is hoisted into place. Even in Hollywood’s dream vision, beauty gives way to an American pointing an oversized gun.

“Hollywood” is a metonym for America in “The Sympathizer”; it is the country’s front door, its export and its weapon. The Captain’s C.I.A. contact, Claude (Downey), lectures his “protégé” (who he is unaware is a communist) about American pop culture, expounding to him about the Isley Brothers and the Herbie Hancock score for “Death Wish.” Later, Claude tells him about the C.I.A.’s interest in keeping tabs on film directors: “As long as we can keep them within the nebulous bounds of humanism but with no actionable political ideology, they’re completely harmless.”

For Nguyen, who came to the United States with his family in 1975, the movies were potent and personal. “I grew up when America was fighting its war in Vietnam all over again, this time onscreen,” he recalled in a 2022 commencement speech. “Vietnam was our country and this was our war, and yet our only place in American movies was to be killed, raped, threatened or rescued.”

The adaptation of his novel dramatizes this in its centerpiece fourth episode, which premiered Sunday. The Captain, sent to America after the war to keep an eye on the General in exile, is hired as a consultant for “The Hamlet,” an “Apocalypse Now”–like film by a blowhard American auteur, Nikos, again played by Downey. (Downey also plays an academic peddling theories about the “Oriental” mind-set and a right-wing politician who displays a photo of himself with John Wayne, whose “The Green Berets” tried to rouse support for the war.)

The filming takes the Captain into 1970s Hollywood’s heart of dimness. Nikos proclaims that he’s making “The Hamlet” to give voice to the Vietnamese people’s pain, but he neglects to give his Vietnamese characters any dialogue. When he agrees to add lines for them, he runs into the small problem that none of the extras hired to play the villagers are Vietnamese or speak the language.

(The multiple casting of Downey, by the way, is arguably a visual riff on this history of the movies treating Asians in general, and Vietnamese in particular, as interchangeable: Every aspect of imperialism, it conveys, is the same face in different makeup. But in a series that’s meant to foreground the Vietnamese in their own story, the device is showy and distracting because … well, it’s a whole lot of Robert Downey Jrs.)

The Captain volunteers to solve the problem, rounding up a group of Vietnamese expats to fill the extra roles, including his friend Bon (Fred Nguyen Khan), who proves to have a talent for getting killed, repeatedly, in a variety of costumes and makeup.

But the Captain’s solution introduces its own complications. His refugee extras, who fled the communists, don’t want to play Viet Cong onscreen. “Why do we make art,” the Captain pleads with them, “if not to explore the full complexity of life?” His speech doesn’t persuade anyone, but an offer of an extra $10 in pay does.

Park, the director of the relentless and sanguinary “Oldboy,” is an apt fit for this story, able to both render the thrill of actual action and satirize the absurdity of action moviemaking. (Park and McKellar wrote the fourth episode, which is directed by Fernando Meirelles.) On set, the Captain meets a Korean American actor (played by John Cho), whose résumé includes characters of multiple Asian ethnicities who have been beaten to death by Robert Mitchum, stabbed by Ernest Borgnine and shot by Frank Sinatra. An overbearing method actor (David Duchovny) plays his role as a war criminal with disturbing fidelity.

The episode builds to the movie-within-a-show’s climax, the rape of a village woman whom Nikos has named for the Captain’s mother. Though Nikos considers it a “tribute,” the Captain is appalled. (“You should be thanking me!” Nikos complains.) It’s too much for the Captain, whom Xuande plays as a man expert at mastering his emotions and his affect. He is fired and breaks up the scene’s shooting, and while leaving the set, he’s injured in a pyrotechnic blast meant to simulate an airstrike against the Vietnamese hamlet.

The Captain survives the devastation of his country only to be blown up by the simulacrum of the war he escaped. But Nikos gets the explosions he needs, and “The Hamlet” is released into the world.

“This movie is trash,” a Vietnamese character later says philosophically, “but that’s only from our perspective. He’s an American, and from an American perspective, it’s pretty progressive.”

This theme — perspectives and the lenses that express and determine them — is what makes “The Sympathizer” both an ingenious critique of war movies and an inventive war story of its own. The series opens with a statement displayed onscreen: “All wars are fought twice / The first time on the battlefield / the second time in memory.” Sly and passionate, “The Sympathizer” joins this battle on a third front: in the pictures.

James Poniewozik is the chief TV critic for The Times. He writes reviews and essays with an emphasis on television as it reflects a changing culture and politics. More about James Poniewozik

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    Hamlet's tragic flaw is his unwillingness to act, which leads to his downfall. Hamlet's uncle poisoned his father and then murdered him, bringing the ghost's words back to life: "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." (Act I, Scene 5, line 23) Hamlet is enraged and perplexed by the fact that his own uncle could kill his father.

  17. Hamlet: Historical Context Essay

    In Hamlet 's Denmark, just as in England, the royal succession is uncertain. Claudius has hastily married the queen in order to secure his claim, and the old king's son, Hamlet, is openly unhappy about it. The new king spends all his time drinking, and there are rumors that a foreign invader plans to take advantage of the kingdom's weakness.

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    In 1938, it was granted town status. [citation needed]Administrative and municipal status. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is incorporated as Elektrostal City Under Oblast Jurisdiction—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, Elektrostal City Under Oblast Jurisdiction is incorporated as Elektrostal Urban Okrug.

  19. "Metallurgical Plant "Electrostal" JSC

    Round table 2021. "Electrostal" Metallurgical plant" JSC has a number of remarkable time-tested traditions. One of them is holding an annual meeting with customers and partners in an extеnded format in order to build development pathways together, resolve pressing tasks and better understand each other. Although the digital age ...

  20. In Hamlet, is Hamlet's indecisiveness his downfall or his heroic trait

    Hamlet's inaction is what causes Hamlet to fail in living up to his family's honor: namely, avenging his father's death. This directly brings about his downfall. However, this inaction is also ...

  21. 40 Facts About Elektrostal

    40 Facts About Elektrostal. Elektrostal is a vibrant city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia. With a rich history, stunning architecture, and a thriving community, Elektrostal is a city that has much to offer. Whether you are a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, Elektrostal is sure to ...

  22. Elektrostal Map

    Elektrostal is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia, located 58 kilometers east of Moscow. Elektrostal has about 158,000 residents. Mapcarta, the open map.

  23. How does Hamlet's lack of self-confidence contribute to his downfall

    Share Cite. Hamlet's lack of self-confidence makes him hesitate to act decisively. While he hesitates, failing to comply with his father's ghost's request promptly, other individuals who are not ...

  24. 'The Sympathizer' Opens a Counteroffensive on Vietnam War Movies

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