Of all William Shakespeare’s plays, most of them are deemed good, and some even greater.
However, there is one play that is considered the greatest work ever composed by the writer. And, the play is Hamlet.
So, why Hamlet is so popular?
Hamlet is so popular because it reveals the variety of a human mind and contains great quotes that are universal and popular in our pop culture.
Here are a few reasons that make Hamlet a popular play. And, you might want to give it a try.
What's Included in This Post
The extraordinary storyline and powerful characters
There is no question about Shakespeare’s ability to write impressive plots. Many people believe that Shakespeare’s writing inspired many modern works.
His themes include ambition, power, love, marriage, revenge, obsession, ambition, dreaming, loyalty, murder, guilt, and sin.
Hamlet has a terrific storyline with a magnificent tragedy and a powerful depth. Hamlet discovers his father’s death and his mother’s marriage to the new king, his uncle.
He even interacts with the ghost of his father. Moreover, his late father argues him to seek revenge on his uncle for his murder.
Also, the play portrays different relationships among the characters. Hamlet is obsessed with his mother, Gertrude.
And, not to forget about Ophelia, Hamlet’s potential wife. Hamlet tries to convince his insanity to Ophelia.
Hamlet has the most complex characters you cannot find in other Shakespeare plays. The characters have different traits and are ready to grab the reader’s attention.
Hamlet is filled with vivid characters and personalities. From dreamers to lovers, villains, murderers, traitors, magicians, and witches.
In short, the characters depicted in Hamlet are full of everything beyond your imagination. The play has a variety of themes that challenge one’s imagination.
The characters are no puppets that fit into incidents and acting according to the demands of the plot. It is the only play where the plot and character are interwoven.
Hamlet is beautifully written and I insist that it is a must-read for anyone who has a profound interest in literature.
The portrayal of a character always looking for answers, a prolonged affair
The importance of the play, Hamlet lies in the character of its hero. Hamlet is one of the greatest plays because the main character continues to interest readers even today.
Moreover, the main character of the play has a great significance and universal appeal. Hamlet’s experience, as portrayed in the play arouses a similar kind of experience in today’s world.
Hamlet finds himself in a peculiar situation and responds to it in different ways. This is something that every people are familiar with their deepest natures.
So, it is evident that people are likely to react in the same way in most situations as Hamlet did.
Hamlet obtains enough evidence and comes to know that his uncle murdered his father during the first part of the play.
Moreover, his mother, the Queen, married his uncle. Hamlet, who is sensitive and attached to his father, is confused with the situation.
The slow progress from being aware of the wrongdoings to the conviction of the guilt by his uncle changed the way he looked at life.
He finds it hard to accept the situation and understand its implications. The Ghost’s sayings took some time to verify.
But Hamlet hesitates to take revenge even after the verification for a long time. As such, his uncle took the initiative and banishes Hamlet from Denmark.
During the second part, Hamlet returns to Denmark only to be grieved by the death of his beloved wife, Ophelia.
And, he becomes determined to kill the king. However, by this time, he was dying. In the meantime, the Queen was already dead.
So, Hamlet always finds himself in awkward situations where a quick judgment cannot be made. While revenge sometimes appears to be a correct measure, but there are other forces at work, as well.
Another great reason I feel about Hamlet becoming so popular is because of the powerful portrayal of words.
These quotes came victorious against time and are often quoted today in pop culture and academia. Let’s have a brief about some of the quoted phrases in Hamlet and understand their meaning.
- “To be, or not to be” – Hamlet was unable to act upon his willingness for personal revenge and that makes him frustrated. Continuous suffering or ending it all, which is better?
While the tone is meditative than angry, but he considers committing suicide. This kind of personal struggle is common to all mankind.
However, given the fact that no one knows what lies after death, Hamlet realizes that it is not the best way to escape from the situation.
- “That it should come to this!” – This is Hamlet’s one of the five soliloquies he had after speaking to his mother, Gertrude.
Hamlet’s mother married his uncle. And, so he is finding it hard to believe.
This quote reflects Hamlet’s shock and fury after learning about his mother’s remarriage. According to Hamlet, the world is in utter chaos, and remarriages count on top of them.
Soliloquies are a great way to show the audience about a character’s inner thoughts. This confusion and melancholy persist during the whole play.
- “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” – Here Polonius is giving Laertes, his son a piece of valuable advice. Polonius is saying that loaning money to people might be dangerous.
Most of the time people do not pay the money back. On the other hand, borrowing money is not good either.
Borrowing money from others represents impoliteness. It indicates that a person is living outside of their means.
- “Frailty, thy name is woman!” – Here the �woman’ specifically refers to Hamlet’s mother, when speaking in his first soliloquies.
Hamlet feels his mother is too weak, or she is not strong enough to mourn his father’s death. Furthermore, he adds that even an animal, who is devoid of reasoning, mourns for some time.
The quote shows how confused and angry Hamlet is about his mother’s remarriage.
- “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” – A guard, Marcellus says these words to Horatio. While Hamlet follows his father’s ghost, Marcellus and Horatio knew that they have to follow him.
The impulsive behavior of Hamlet led to Marcellus uttering these words. Also, these words indicate that something evil and bad is about to follow.
- “Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” – Polonius said these words addressing the audience while interacting with Hamlet.
Polonius is trying to say that even if Hamlet has gone crazy, it might make sense. Or, there should be a �method’ in it.
Polonius believes that because of Hamlet’s love for Ophelia, he is acting foolishly and mad.
While Polonius is thinking that there is an obvious reason behind such actions, he is unaware of the real cause.
Hamlet is acting madly on purpose to disguise his true ambition to avenge the murder of his father.
Is Hamlet the greatest play ever written?
Hamlet is considered one of the greatest plays ever written. Also, it is one of the most famous works of William Shakespeare.
Hamlet is a masterpiece for a few reasons. Besides being an amazing work of literature, it addresses a lot of societal issues that occurred during the Elizabethan period.
The play discusses the flawed society, about the biases and divisions that continue even in modern society.
This is evident from the fact how Hamlet perceived the remarriage of his mother with his uncle. Also, there a scene where Hamlet is conversing with his father’s ghost.
Shakespeare wrote the play during the period where some beliefs were catholic and some were protestant. A rough time where people have to face different Christian faiths.
Literature acts as a mirror to society and brings up much societal discourse that needs attention even today.
Not to forget about the separate ideology issue that brings division among humans. This falls in line with the quote: “To be, or not to be”.
I strongly feel that there is a hidden lesson for the world to understand from this masterpiece. Death is an inevitable factor and it makes divisions among humans meaningless, and every human equal.
Is Hamlet easy to read?
Many people find reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet a bit daunting. So, here are some easy ways to make it more simple and understandable.
- Read the plot synopsis – Before getting started with the book, it is wise to read the synopsis of the play first. So, do your research and find a suitable synopsis.
- Opt for an annotated edition – While Shakespeare wrote Hamlet in Modern English, it might be hard to understand the play without annotations.
There are plenty of words and syntax that are not used these days. Annotated texts help readers understand what is going on in the play.
- Read carefully and slowly – Enjoy Shakespeare’s vivid and beautiful use of the language by reading it slowly. Try to read a page without referring to the given annotations.
You may even read them aloud. Next, read the page again by referring to the annotations.