Hamlet, Judge of Denmark in a Time “Out of Joint”

  • Mary Jo Kietzman


Kietzman argues that Hamlet views the rotten world of Denmark through the prism of the biblical book of Judges, the only book he names when calling Polonius Jephthah. Kietzman shows how key narrative images from Judges—Jephthah’s vow (male use of women), Jael’s murder of Sisera (Gertrude’s “murder” of Old Hamlet), and Gideon’s skeptical response to the call to deliver Israel (Hamlet’s call to deliver Denmark from idolatry) provide the poetic nuclei that make up the deep fantasy of Shakespeare’s play. Hamlet moves toward reforming the corrupt monarchy through the lateral covenants he makes with Horatio (as Julia Lupton argues), but even more importantly, with the players and the theater audience. These relationships provide the framework that finally enables him to take revenge in a morally responsible way.



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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Jo Kietzman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Michigan–FlintFlintUSA

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