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Hamlet's ChoiceReligion and Resistance in Shakespeare's Revenge Tragedies$
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Peter Lake

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300247817

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300247817.001.0001

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The politics of conscience

The politics of conscience

(p.120) 7 The politics of conscience
Hamlet's Choice

Peter Lake

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on the action of William Shakespeare's plays and explains in detail how various concerns, points of references, and sets of narrative expectation are brought together and resolved. It highlights the depiction of Hamlet's spiritual crisis and his obsession over the prospect of suicide. It puzzles over the extent and the spiritual and epistemological consequences of Hamlet's own madness or melancholy, analysing whether he is the subject of demonically induced delusions and lies. The chapter looks into the term “atheist” in its Elizabethan sense, which is someone who is acting, or trying to act, as though God, the soul and the afterlife do not exist. It also compares Hamlet's soliloquies to someone talking like an atheist but acting like a Christian.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, narrative expectation, Hamlet, spiritual crisis, atheist, Elizabethan sense, afterlife

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