Hamlet's Problematic Revenge: Forging a Royal Mandate provides a new argument within Shakespearean studies that argues the oft-noted arrest of the play's dramaturgical momentum, especially evident in Hamlet's much delayed enactment of his revenge, represents in fact a succinct emblem of the "arrested development" in the moral maturity of the entire cast, most notably, Hamlet himself-as the unifying disclosure and tragic problem in the play. Settling for unreflective and short-sighted personal gratifications and cold comforts, they truantly elbow aside a more considerable moral obligation. Again and again, all yield this duty's commanding priority to a childishly self-regarding fear of offending those in nominal positions of power and questionable positions of authority-figures, like Ophelia and Hamlet's fathers, for instance, demanding an unworthy deference.
While Hamlet fails to consider with loving regard the improved well-being of the larger community to which he owes his existence and, fails to interrogate the moral adequacy of the Ghost's command of violent reprisal (two things he never does nor even contemplates doing), "all occasions" in the play "do inform against" him and merely "spur a dull revenge"-not, as he interprets his own words, arguing the need for greater urgency in his vendetta, but, instead, to "inform against" the criminality of that very course itself. His revenge therefore can be argued as "dull," not because he cannot summon the wherewithal to enact it more bloodily, but because in obsessing about it ceaselessly he remains unreceptive to its "dull" or "unenlightened" opposition to the evil he hopes to eradicate. Hamlet does not avenge his father; this book argues that he becomes him. Amidst a wealth of previously unremarked figurative mirrorings, as well as much of the seemingly digressive material in Hamlet within Shakespearean studies, Hamlet's Problematic Revenge brings to light a new interpretation of the tragic problem in the play.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 1
Weight: 236 g
Dimensions: 223 x 151 x 12 mm
William Zak's iconoclastic analysis of Hamlet upends critical and audience consensus in arguing that most of the other characters of the play deserve better, assessing the beloved Horatio as a failure and bungler, and revealing the Danish Prince himself to be an embarrassingly immature, vain, myopic, self-deluded, hypocritical, toxic, malicious criminal. For Zak, Hamlet is not so much a tragedy as Hamlet is a disaster. An inventive and daring new approach. -- Michael Delahoyde, Washington State University
Romantic-period thinkers loved Hamlet for his obdurate questionings; T. S. Eliot thought he lacked an objective correlative. The protagonist of Shakespeare's tragedy now seems rehabilitated, but Zak is a sharp dissenter. He pokes holes in all the arguments of Hamlet adulators, portraying the Danish prince as self-centered, prone to 'risk both his private and the public's good,' and having an 'unacknowledged beam' in his own eye even as he castigates his mother and stepfather for having motes in theirs. Zak finds Hamlet's revenge flawed from inception, as the prince seeks extremes rather than compromises . . . His book is a provocative, stimulating minority report in the tradition of Harold Goddard's sometimes infuriating but always cogent The Meaning of Shakespeare (1951). Zak grounds his contention in past and current Shakespeare scholarship, agreeing with Paul Kottman's sense for Shakespeare as anti-Romantic. . . .Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. * CHOICE *