Hamlet Essay - Textual Integrity

‘Interpretations of texts can shift and change with time and place’

Interpretations are based on context. That is we interpret something based on our own circumstances and a wider point of view. Hamlet’s interpretation can vary greatly among people today even though we all have the same text and are living at the same time. This is because our context is very much different. The interpretations of texts will ultimately change over time because of diverse ideas within society. These differing ideas bring with them more ways to look at a text and to understand new ideas from it.

The interpretations of the text can shift and change with time and place, but the underlying messages and themes such as murder, revenge and madness remain crucial to the understanding of the play in any context. The messages and themes prevail in Hamlet because of its strong textual integrity relating to, specifically, the plot and its core themes. The Board of studies defines textual integrity as “the unity of a text; its coherent use of form and language to produce an integrated whole in terms of meaning and value”

In some contexts, other parts of the play are given precedence. Due to the fact that the world has changed unmeasurably since Hamlet was written by Shakespeare over 400 years ago. Issues such as colonisation, the feudalism and absolute monarchy have all but disappeared. In our context, political issues such as monarchies are of little concern and our focus and connection with Hamlet is through the twisted family values and deep philosophical messages to which we can all relate to. For this reason it’s hard for us to image what it was like back when Hamlet was written even though core themes still resonate to this day.

Cultural/religious influences can also determine how we interpret texts. This is particularly true if themes or messages in that text are controversial in nature, for instance containing religious or cultural taboos. Different societies throughout the...