Posted: September 3rd, 2013
Hamlet and In The Blood
When talking about tragic plays, many people will think of Shakespeare. However, other recent plays have also centered on tragedy, such as In The Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, which is compared with Shakespeare play, Hamlet in this paper. Hamlet and In The Blood are two tragic plays set in different settings including time, and place. The plays also differ in terms of plot and characters. However, the two plays have quite a number of similarities in terms of themes and motifs, where both show tragedy happening to people who do not deserve such. Tragedy is what befalls both protagonists of the plays as well as destroying family bonds, with Prince Hamlet ending up dead while Hester ends up in jail after struggling to raise her five children.
In Hamlet, Prince Hamlet is polite and innocent when his father dies. In addition, his uncle, the murderer of his father has married his mother in order to take the throne, which is supposed to be his. Later, Prince Hamlet is visited by his father’s ghost, telling him of how he died. Throughout the play, he is planning to kill Claudius, and several other people die in the play, including those that he loved. In the end, Claudius dies, but Prince Hamlet also dies and does not live to inherit his father’s throne to the kingdom. This is the tragedy in the Hamlet story (Smith 4).
On the other hand, In The Blood has also a very tragic story as well as the ending. Hester is a poor woman without a source of income for which to take care of her five fatherless children. Hester tries her best to help her children out of poverty, but all people around her only give her very little help to get out of poverty. She tries seeking help from some of the fathers of the children, but ends up being called a slut. In addition, the people around her have been involved with her sexually, such as The Welfare Lady, who had her first threesome thanks to Hester, the reverend, doctor and Miga. In the end, she ends up in jail after she beat up her eldest son for talking to her about the slut. She leaves the children without anybody to help them. At this time, the society does nothing to help her out of poverty. Rather, those around her try to make her poverty more bearable with little help (Jefferson 1999).
In addition to the tragedy that befalls the protagonists in the plays, they are faced by obstacles in their life that prevent them from achieving their goals. Prince Hamlet is struggling with his own mind, which seems the greatest obstacle in fulfilling his goal of killing Claudius. In addition, Claudius is suspicious of him and sends him away for some time. His wits seem to be another obstacle in achieving the goal (Smith 4). On the other hand, Hester’s goal is to save her children from poverty, which she tries to do through finding help from the people around her. However, this fails. One of the obstacles she has to deal with is her own image in the society. The society considers her adulterous and a slut. With such an image, very few people are willing to help her. Another obstacle is that she is poor, and has no means of income to provide for her five children.
The two plays also come in to show a strong bond between children and parents, where we see a strong connection between Prince Hamlet and his father. After his father has died, he takes the longest time to overcome his remorse. Even after the ghost has visited, he is still mourning his father’s death. In addition, he comes to hate her mother for marrying his uncle, and sees it as a bad act against his father. On the other hand, Hester is struggling throughout her life to raise her five children and take them out of poverty. For them, she is willing to do almost anything in order to get help with raising them. This shows quite a strong connection between the children and the parents.
In addition, the two plays show a strong connection between what one says and what happens. In Hamlet, Prince Hamlet is seen in one of the soliloquies wondering whether to be or not to be, and the words seem to be depicting the real facts happening in his life. On the other hand, Hester says that she knows her fate, considers her situation her own fault. These words make her remain in poverty since she already believes it is her destiny.
Jefferson Margo. “Theater Review; The Scarlet Letter,’ Alive And Bitter in the Inner City” The New York Times 23 Nov. 1999. Print.
Smith J. Peter. “Review of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (directed by Jonathan Miller) at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol, March-may 2008.” Shakespeare, 4.3 (2008): 324-327. Print.
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