Hamlet Marxist Criticism

1693 words 7 pages
AP Literature and Composition
3 April 2013
Socialism and Shakespeare Throughout the entirety of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, if one looks carefully, one can see many aspects of Marxist thought prevalent in the story. To effectively analyze a story through a Marxist critical lens, the reader needs to pay close attention to how characters of different classes interact with one another, especially in respect to class oppression and social inequity, particularly if the actions or words of a character talk of rebellion against the upper classes. “To Marxist critics, a society's economic base determines the interests and styles of its literature; it is this relationship between determining base and determined superstructure that is the main
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Hamlet is furious that the gravedigger dares to say such things to him, for Hamlet knows that he has superiority over the gravedigger. He lets it slide only because the gravedigger was unaware to whom he was speaking. The gravedigger does not know this, but he has gone against one of the foundations of the social superstructure: that a lower class must address a higher class with deference and respect. Here Shakespeare makes the point that but for the social superstructure, Hamlet would be on the same level as the gravedigger, and interactions between them would be free of obstruction due to inequality. This is again demonstrated in scene 5, lines 84-85, as Hamlet takes further his anecdote about what we become after death, by saying “…and now my Lady Worm’s chapless, and knocked about the mazzard with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution...” Hamlet can see that the social superstructure is purely a creation of mankind, and has no bearing on us after death. This is yet another way in which Shakespeare criticizes the social superstructure, by showing how this structure is not right, and will always lead to confliction, as the classes are irrelevant in the grand scheme of the world. The final important argument in this famous ‘gravedigger scene’ is made by Hamlet, following his speech about Yorick’s skull. Hamlet’s comment regarding how one who

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