chapter  2
22 Pages

The Ghost of History: Hamlet and the Politics of Paternity

William Shakespeare's Hamlet, following the Bible and possibly Koran, has been subject of the most and best commentary of any text in the world. This situation, documented in huge bibliographies, is so overwhelming that it can no longer in itself be commented on. Centuries of commentary have inevitably touched upon what they could neither conceive of nor over time not conceive of, but were all too willing to leave alone, ungrasped. Friedrich Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy had re-inscribed the effect, Hamlet's modern intensification of the tragic, into the form of Dionysian origin of ancient tragedy. Claudius' irreproachable and statesmanly attitude has been constantly noted as a reaction to Hamlet's excessive grieving, but also as an attempt by Claudius to console his nephew over the loss of the immediate succession, thereby simultaneously recognizing his grief and attempting to allay his concrete political loss.