For the final paper you are asked to write a 5-page essay in response to one of the questions below. You are to do a close reading of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and craft a well thought out essay. This is meant to be an analysis of the play within its historical context. One of the goals of this assignment is to consider the play with an eye to understanding the effects of the Protestant Reformation. Your paper should have a clear thesis, should integrate quotations from the text to support your argument, and end with a focused and insightful conclusion. You DO NOT need to do any outside reading or research for this paper! I am looking for your own interpretation of this text, in your words. You may, of course, draw from the textbook, lecture and discussion to help craft the historical context and to support your thesis.
• Papers must be 5-pages in length, 12-point font, double-spaced.
• For this final written exercise I ask that you use formal footnotes (see the example given below
as well as the information for citation style given on the CU History Department webpage
• In addition, you must include a list of works cited, or a bibliography, which should list the edition of the text as well as any other sources relevant to the paper, including websites that you consult in any way. Let me stress for an assignment such as this that emphasizes your own close reading and interpretation, it will not help you to rely upon information or
interpretations drawn from the web.
• Be sure to indicate which question you have answered and be sure to title your paper.
1. How is Hamlet’s anxiety and “madness” a response to the Protestant worldview that abandoned the ideas and teachings of Catholic Christianity? Analyze explicitly the figure of the ghost as emblematic of these anxieties, particularly the concern over the place of purgatory in the Protestant worldview.
2. When, and more importantly, why do the characters in Hamlet turn to books and learning to explain and order their worlds? Analyze how such a reliance on books reflects the changing humanist sensibilities of the early modern period.
3. Hamlet is a play framed by questions. Fundamental to this is the question of the nature of existence (“to be or not to be”). Consider why this question was so pressing in the minds of men and women by 1600? Was there any sense of comfort or consolation derived from the process of self-scrutiny according to the play? Consider the historical context very carefully.
Choose one question!
Religion bears great importance to human beings especially in cases of trouble and hardships. The same situation was evident in the fourteenth century. Following the calamities that faced Europe during the Fourteenth Century, Christianity became engraved in all aspects of people’s lives. Starvation, death, war and destruction were the major catastrophes that struck Europe, making the Europeans to be submerged in religion since they believed that the wrath of God caused their suffering. The increased religiousness in Europe during this period led to the growing popularity of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church that was believed to give guidance to the people on how to live.
However, following the dissatisfaction of section of scholars with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, there was the need to pursue other guidance outside religion. Consequently, people would find consolation in the works of ancient writers such as Aristotle, Herodotus, Socrates, Plato as well as other Greek philosophers. The teachings were geared towards the establishment of human dignity. These teachings spread over various regions in the European countries, leading to the development of some controversial ideas, hence opposition of the Roman Catholic Church. The increased dissatisfaction with the church and its teachings resulted in the establishment of social reforms by scholars.
The opposition of the Roman Catholic Church doctrine led to the emergence of the Protestants. Their main area of focus was the Christian religion and the new teachings they discovered. The aim is to conduct and assessment of the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The paper analyzes the anxiety and madness of one of the main characters, Prince Hamlet, and how it is a response to the Protestants worldview that abandoned the ideas and teachings of the Catholic Christianity as offered by the Roman Catholic Church. Moreover, the paper analyzes the figure of the ghost as emblematic of these anxieties and the concern over the area of purgatory in the Protestant Worldview.
Hamlet and the Protestants Worldview
Hamlet is a play by William Shakespeare which discusses the death of the king of Elsinore, King Hamlet after being killed by his brother Claudius who remarries his wife, Gertrude and assumes the throne. Prince Hamlet returns home to find his mother already married to his uncle. The ghost of the deceased king appears at the Elsinore Castle and is seen by a pair of guards and later by a scholar, Horatio. When the prince is brought to see the ghost, it speaks to him of his death and tells him to avenge. The prince, set out for revenge against his uncle, assumes a state of madness and anxiety. He uses theater to prove that Claudius murdered his father. The events that follow are a series of revenge, causing the ultimate death of Claudius, Gertrude, and even the prince…