Comparison of Shakespeares Hamlet and Marsha Normans Night, Mother

play / Shakespeare / Hamlet / Marsha Norman / Night, Mother / tragedy

Essay Topic:

The similarities and the differences of Shakespeares Hamlet and Normans Night, mother.

Essay Questions:

What do Shakespeares Hamlet and Normans Night, mother have in common? How is the tragedy of life of a man depicted in both of the works? What is the greatest difference between Shakespeares Hamlet and Normans Night, mother?

Thesis Statement:

Both Shakespeare and Norman skillfully depicted the fragileness of family relations and a personal tragedy of lonely people within a family.


Comparison of Shakespeares Hamlet and Marsha Normans Night, Mother

Introduction: Shakespeares Hamlet and Normans Night, mother may be considered to be completely different plays from the first sight. Nevertheless, there is a connection between these two works of literature that makes it necessary to compare them. This has a lot to do with the message that both of the authors put into their works, with the tragedy of life of a person. Before starting a deep analysis of the contents it is important to say that both of the plays deal with the psychological conditions of the characters and require a special attention from the side of the reader. Both Shakespeare and Norman skillfully depicted the fragileness of family relations and a personal tragedy of lonely people within a family.

2. Plot summary of Shakespeares Hamlet

To keep the order of appearance of the plays it is better to start with Hamlet. The play is written in the form of Hamlets monologues and dialogues with other characters. The whole situation occurs in Denmark. Hamlets father dies and his mother marries her husbands brother Claudius. My father's brother, but no more like my father. Than I to Hercules- he says depicting him [1]. Hamlet has a vision of the fathers ghost, who tells Hamlet that Claudius murdered him: Murder most foul, as in the best it is, but this most foul, strange, and unnatural"[1]. Hamlet swears to revenge. This becomes the fracture of Hamlets life because he starts facing a conflict between revenging or not. He kills Polonius the father of his beloved Ophelia without any intension to do so. Ophelia gets depressed and not able to fight the circumstances and Hamlets madness and eventually dies. Laertes, Ophelias brother fights Hamlet; his rapier turns out to be poisoned and hurts both of them to death. Hamlets mother drinks the wine intended for him and dies. Hamlet, suffering from the wound makes his last attempt to kill Claudius and dies, too. It is the tragedy of a whole family and the personal Hamlets drama in absolute loneliness and the feeling of being abandoned and betrayed.

3. Plot summary of Normans Night, mother

The whole play is built in the structure of a dialogue between two people. It is a story of a woman who is firm in her intention to commit a suicide after she says Good night to her mother Thelma. The whole story takes place in a standard living room without getting out of it. Jessie tries to explain why she is about to do it and to show her mother that she is not to blame herself for that: No, this is not about you, has nothing to do with you. Don't you see that's the trouble? This is solely about me"[2].

Most of the play Thelma tries to over-persuade her daughter with commonplace arguments: People don't kill themselves, Jessie. It's doesn't make sense unless you're retarded or deranged, and you're as normal as they come, Jessie, for the most part[2]. Jessie is mad in her intention to end her life. She does not seem tense about it; on the contrary, she seems to take it as her fate. Her decision seems to be a result of some mathematic calculation. Jessie talks to her mother to make sure she knows where all the things in the house. Jessie seems as cold as an iceberg and even cruel in giving her mother instructions of her actins after she hears the shot. After she feels the whole conversation is senseless she says: Goodnight, Mother, leaves and shoots.

4. The lines uniting the plays

The basic themes that unite both of the plays are: family relations, suicide and psychological condition of the characters. Hamlet is a description of deformed mother-son (Gertrude-Hamlet) and father-daughter (Polonius-Ophelia) relations. It is Hamlets tragedy of a lost father whom he loved and the impossibility to accept his replacement. It is Ophelias tragedy of lack of will and not getting the understanding of her love from the side of her father. In Night, mother the focus is the mother-daughter (Thelma-Jessie) relationship. It is a tragedy of failed relations and the impossibility to change anything.

Both of the characters Hamlet and Jessie think of a suicide as a solution. It is a tragedy of the inability to find a place in this world and an attempt to believe that what they are going to do is right. Both of the characters are not able to solve their inner conflict. Hamlet cannot decide whether his intent to revenge for the death of his father is right or not. "To be or not to be-that is the question he thinks [1 Act 3]. Jessie cannot deal with not achieving her dreams: I tried to think about people and what was missing. Then I realized. It's me. Me, who could have made a difference to me. For the person I thought I would become. I didn't make it. So there's no reason to stay except to keep you company. And that's not reason enough [2 Act 3]. Both Hamlet and Jessie are mad, they are melancholically tuned and it seems like fatalism has covered them both from head to toes. Their loneliness and emptiness, their depression unites these two characters, drawing similar psychological portraits.

The basic theme of both of the plays is the personal unhappiness of the characters and their inability to cope with it. All the failed relationships make them believe that there is nothing left to fight for. Hamlet needs to revenge for his fathers death, which makes him think of suicide and Jessie, wants to revenge life by giving up on it.

Conclusion: William Shakespeares Hamlet and Marsha Normans Night, mother have a lot of in common in spite of the different times periods of creation. This proves that the problems family relations and suicide as a result of unhappiness are still very vital problems even nowadays. The authors made a great job in depicting the problems people try not to notice. The actuality of the problems described in the plays is very high and this makes their comparison an important element of the proper understanding of the issue from all the possible sides. These are the literature works definitely worth of reading with a deep psychological analysis of each of the characters. And could be the comparison of works like this may lead to a better understanding of the reasons people act the way the do and think the way they think. And possible prevent somebody from saying: I think I can kill myself[2].


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