A Level English: “Hamlet uses the theatre to escape reality”

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Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a play deeply consumed with the concept of theatre, the power of both words and drama, and the danger of a breakdown in the boundaries between acting and reality.

In “Manifestoes of Surrealism”, Breton famously wrote that “reality is by definition ugly; beauty exists only in that which is not real. It is man who has introduced beauty into the world. In order to produce beauty, one must remove oneself as far as possible from reality”. Considering this, it might not be unreasonable to suggest that Hamlet might have been attracted to theatre to escape from the “rank” and “gross” world in which he lived. However, it is also important to consider that “seem[ing]” and “play[ing]” parts are also presented as being synonymous with duplicity in Hamlet. It is up to you to decide to what extent Hamlet wishes to escape reality and if theatre is a realistic alternative, but perhaps more significant to question why Shakespeare may have wanted to present escaping reality as either an attractive, or, alternatively, dangerous option.

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