Good evening and a special welcome to our Mayor Tom Tate and schools of the Gold Coast. Tonight will be a very special night and I would like to thank you all for attending. We are here to showcase dramatic performances that reflect the contemporary nature of the famous English writer, William Shakespeare. Scholars still remain to study Shakespeare and his work because of his ability to relate to human nature through the situations each character experiences in his plays.
Shakespeare wrote stories based on his view of life, but even though these were written a long time ago, they are still very relatable to modern world society. This is one of the unique characteristics about Shakespeare’s plays and what people encounter can still be related to the experiences of the characters in his plays. Shakespeare had a profound understanding of human beings, how and what we think, what we feel, how and why we act. His work may be written in an extravagant language to understand, although hundreds of years later people can receive key life lessons from reading or watching his plays. Shakespeare is important because of his profound understanding of human nature which remains the same throughout time.
In his pieces, he demonstrates the striking similarities between humans, regardless of the time or period highlighted. One has only to look at some of the main characters in his plays to see the worst and the best in human nature. Shakespeare’s plays reveal all aspects of human nature, as a result, they remain timeless reminders of the highs humans experience, and the depths to which we can go to when we are overly ambitious. A common style of Shakespeare’s texts that is often referred to in modern society is a “Shakespearean tragedy.” These “tragedy” plays are based around a common structure; there’s the tragic hero, who’s character is cursed by fate and possesses a devastating fatal flaw. There’s an external conflict, the battle between good and evil as well as an internal plot that the tragic hero faces shelf struggle against his fatal flaw. The ending of a “tragedy” results in the resolution of the conflict but at the cost of death for the tragic hero. Shakespeare often includes an element of the supernatural e.g. ghosts, witchcraft and magic.
Shakespearean texts often evolved around a central theme, the most common being: appearance versus reality, change, order and disorder and conflict. However, in one of Shakespeare’s texts, “Hamlet,” the story revolves around a less commonly known theme of corruption. The general plot of the play is the tragic hero plotting to take revenge on his father`s death at the hand of his uncle in order to prove himself a prestigious son. From the beginning of the play, the citizens of Elsinore start to realise that something isn’t right. As spoken by one of the guards, Marcellus “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (1,4,80). In Shakespeare’s era, people thought the health of a nation was connected to the king leading it. The country has been run in an abnormal way since the new king had been running the country, when corruption leaks into a government, it dramatically effects the stability and order in a country. Corruption often leads to the downfall of countries because the leader desires personal gain (power, money and/or entitlements) instead of the intention to improve the country’s security and the wellbeing of citizens.
Shakespeare often implements the supernatural into his tragedy plays. The ghost of the play has a huge influence on the wellbeing of Prince Hamlet and the rest of the royal family. Through the conversation that Hamlet has with the ghost (his murdered father), it reveals “the serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown” (1,5,38-39). This provides proof of the corruption that lies throughout Denmark was not a myth and that King Claudius gained the throne through corrupt practises for his own greed and selfishness. To have a villain leading Denmark only spreads corruption and it was only a matter of time before the results were showing throughout the royal family. As a result of the king’s death, Hamlet has promised the ghost to revenge the murder. Throughout the play, Hamlet continuously plots and changes his plan for the murder and needs to be one hundred percent certain that Claudius was the culprit. He is presented with an excellent opportunity to conduct the revenge but refuses as he believes there will be a better time. As a result of his procrastination, he becomes extremely frustrated with himself and his inability to act. It drives him mad and he becomes rash and unpredictable as a result of his contemplative nature.
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Claudius’ lust for power and wealth affected many people, including his nephew. But it also affected him personally later in the play. The following extract demonstrates his need for forgiveness but his continuous greed for power.
“Oh my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
Or pardoned being down? Then I’ll look up,
My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?
That cannot be, since I am still possessed,
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardoned and retain th’offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world
Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice,
And oft ‘tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law. But ‘tis not so above.” (3, 3, lines: 36-37, 40, 50-60)
This extract out of act 3, scene 3 is the time when Claudius is realising what he has done, although he says his sin is so great that it renders him incapable of praying. He admits before God that he has committed the ‘primal eldest curse’ by carrying out his brother’s murder. He admits that his remorse is unforgivable since he is unwilling to give up the thrown to Prince Hamlet. Instead, he begs that some assistance might bow his knees and soften his heart so that he can ask for forgiveness.
In today’s modern world, political corruption lies everywhere. It affects the citizens of the country and their quality of life because someone wants to run a country “their way” instead of thinking what’s best for everyone. A great example of political corruption is the elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez in 1998. He was elected on three main promises: convening a Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution and improve the state, fighting poverty and social exclusion, and eliminating corruption. Due to lies and the fight to gain more power and wealth, today, the nation is locked in an intense struggle between the defenders of democracy and a president intent on becoming a dictator for life. Poverty and social exclusion remain as prominent as before, while the levels of government corruption are higher than ever. The political corruption in Venezuela is very similar to Hamlet, as both leaders use unethical means to get into positions of power for their own personal gain instead of improving the lives of their constituents.