A Level English: Does Shakespeare want us to revel in ‘forbidden behaviour’?

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The almost excited attitude of the Elizabethan/Jacobean audience, (captive to the authority of the state and church) to such ‘forbidden behaviour’ was arguably known by playwrights of the time, who used foreign locations to allow the audience to bask as the witnesses of immoral crimes which they were otherwise prohibited from executing themselves. Particularly compared with the modern age of film (where you may well have seen hundreds of deaths in one film- witness the body count of Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King ex = 836) Shakespeare’s 17th century audience would most likely not have been accustomed to watching people get savagely murdered. Perhaps you will take this as suggesting the audience would have regarded Revenge Tragedies with a mixture of excitement and fear, to an extent perhaps enjoying or even ‘revelling’ in Hamlet’s quest for revenge. The degree to which you believe the audience were encouraged to ‘revel’ in Revenge Tragedies is your personal choice- there is no plain ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. What is more clear, however, is that Shakespeare does encourage the audience to reflect on how far revenge may be justified, and the consequences of such judgement.

Feel free to respond below!

Special thanks to http://www.moviebodycounts.com for providing me with the body count for Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King

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