Marxism in William Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet'

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In today’s complicated society, a billionaire CEO of Facebook comes to realize that accumulating wealth is another way of influence. Having been praised for creating Facebook he is a huge influencer in today’s society. An example of his influences the amount of social media platforms he owns and influenced such as Instagram, Snapchat, etc. However, before he was a tech star nobody would’ve looked up to him for gain. This is where the difference in social classes change the reaction from others. However, William Shakespeare reiterates the system in his play, ‘Hamlet’, through the lens of Marxism.

Through the idea of monarchy, it is a known fact that peasants and working-class citizens are not able to correspond with the aristocratic royalty as they wish. In the second act, it clearly depicts the dynamics of power and the kings as a higher class and because of the royalty he has control over people. Hamlet claims that he is a “beggar” knowing that Rosencrantz was sent because of the king’s speculation. This makes Hamlet’s power under the king, which coincides with the ideology of Marxism. Lower class have no ambitions to gain power because they didn’t have any to start with. On the contrary, the wealthy can grasp the ambition because they already have the power to control what they want. Another instance where Hamlet exploits his authority as the son of the king is when he attempts to reveal his father’s death by asking people to perform an act about how his father is murdered and inviting upperclassmen to watch the play.

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In the third act, Shakespeare portrays the overwhelming authority in controlling their subjects that leads to corruption in authorities. In this act, Claudius uses his power to manipulate friends of Hamlet to cover up his crimes. Guildenstern says: “We will ourselves provide. Most holy and religious fear it is to keep those many, many bodies safe that live and feed upon your majesty” (3.3.8-11). The quote illustrates that people who are a lower social class will obey orders from the upper class. The corruption aspect can be seen when the power that Claudius possess has enabled him to give out commands to Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. The title of king allows Claudius to manipulate the two and have them betray their own friend, Hamlet.

In ‘Hamlet', Shakespeare portrays the leniency of the world’s treatment towards people with power and wealth. Within the catholic setting a Christian burial cannot be reasoned for a woman who committed suicide but due to the social status of the King she is still buried traditionally. “Will you ha’ the truth on’t? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial” (5.1.24-26). This shows the influence of power and wealth in the world, even including religious matter.

Shakespeare’s implication of Marxist theory in his play clearly resembles the gender equality at his time. The difference in social class allows the upper class to treat the lower class however they want. Unfortunately, we see this in today’s society and things are being done to enhance the rights of women especially in the work force.

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Marxism in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/marxism-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet/
“Marxism in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/marxism-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet/
Marxism in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/marxism-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet/> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
Marxism in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/marxism-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet/
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