Which line would most likely be written by a reader analyzing Hamlet through the formalist lens?

For centuries, there have been significant changes in the interpretation of literature. Formalism, a critical theory, places emphasis on the structure of a work rather than its content or emotional impact. In order to properly analyze a work, the reader must be familiar with related forms of art, such as cinema, music, and painting, and understand the structure, language, and expressions used in the work. Formalist critics focus on image patterns, figurative language, and irony.


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Hamlet includes repeated references to death and decay, as well as metaphors that illustrate the corrupt nature of Claudius, the play’s antagonist. In Act 3 Scene 4, Hamlet uses the metaphor of a fungus infecting a healthy plant to describe Claudius’ influence on Denmark. Claudius’ actions are shown to have a negative impact on the country and its people, and his corrupt nature is evident from the very beginning of the play, as stated by Marcellus in Act 1 Scene 4: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”


In Shakespeare’s play, language is the most important element, particularly Hamlet’s monologues, which contribute to the tragedy of the play. The film adaptation by Aki Kaurismäki, Hamlet Goes Business, offers a fresh and comprehensive interpretation of the play by transporting the story to modern-day Finland. Despite the literal repetition of dialogues, the adaptation successfully conveys the themes of the play while offering a different perspective on them.


Overall, the interpretation of literature has evolved over time, with formalism placing more importance on the structure of a work rather than its emotional impact. Hamlet’s themes of death and decay, and Claudius’ corrupt nature, are important elements of the play. The use of language, particularly Hamlet’s monologues, is crucial to the tragedy of the play. The film adaptation by Aki Kaurismäki offers a fresh perspective on the play, while staying true to its themes.


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