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Shakespeare's Hamlet as a precursor of the Theatre of the Absurd

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2008
Doğan, Buket
Being regarded as a dramatist of all times, Shakespeare and his work is studied with a modern view point by many critics. Every historical period finds in him what it is looking for and what it wants to see. Shakespeare is part of a modern tradition trying to mirror human psychology and condition in all its absurdity. The innovations that the theatre of the Absurd has brought to the stage not only provide an influence for the works of the later generations but also, they make it possible to look back at the past works of the theatre with a contemporary critical eye. Shakespeare’s vision of the world is similar to that of the absurdists, mainly due to their shared confidence in humanity’s capacity to endure, and the precarious nature of human existence. This thesis analyzes Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet, mainly the drama of its protagonist, as a precursor of Absurd drama. In Hamlet, Shakespeare represents man’s existential anxiety and precarious condition in a nonsensical world, which is stripped of all logical explanations and accounts. To examine the play in the context of the theatre of the Absurd, it will be discussed in relation to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Endgame with regard to their common concerns for the themes of the theatre of the Absurd such as uncertainty and inertia.