The Burial of the Dead: Displacement and Agency in Hamlet

In: Poetica
Author: Stephan Laqué1
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  • 1 , Berlin
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Hamlet tends to be regarded as a largely immobile man of the mind who fails to move in the material world of action. But right from the start, Hamlet is a play about displacement: the displacement of a dead king who walks the earth, of a corpse dragged around and hidden in the castle, of soldiers dying for a piece of land that cannot even offer them burial, of the bones of the dead thrown out of their graves. Hamlet gradually comes to recognize the extent to which he has to become an agent of the displacement of others and the master of his own displacement until, in the graveyard-scene, he can proclaim that he is “Hamlet the Dane”.

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