While Hamlet might be seen as . . . it is really a play about . . .
First Body Paragraph: Yes— the contrast between the elite and the common class. Good. However, I’m questioning the source you derived this from . . . philosophical, I think. I would prefer to see a Shakespearean scholar or an historian make this point about church sermons being used to promote orthodoxy— preserve the status quo. New Worlds (Jen will get you the exact title) or Shapiro (he has a new book coming out called 1603 that Jen is anxiously awaiting, but 1599 would have some content that might be appropriate— there is a long discussion of the importance of Montaigne there as well, as well as some of the tensions surrounding the monarchy (decline of Elizabeth I and the tension/question of the heir) in the context of a history of Henry IV (or Henry V— Jen needs to re-read this fascinating book as well). Greenblatt (Will in the World) has some interesting thoughts as well— you might comb through with this particular essay as a lens.
Second Paragraph: Shakespeare as READER? His readership is well discussed . . . “although they are separated by centuries . . .” feels almost irrelevant to me . . . that’s not the right word. Suffice to say, how might “The Great chain of Being” served to annotate the time period around Hamlet’s construction? Not sure of the right question here . . . will keep trying.
Every man has a role . . . The great chain of being . . . this was VERY Important to the Tudors— especially Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Not only does Shakespeare have the famous quote in As You Like It (All the World’s a Stage), but Elizabeth has a very parallel quote (something about princes on a stage). Suffice to say, I feel like you could make a few strokes here . . . 16th century and 17th century are SO broad . . . I feel it leaves you stymied. The Tudor Era (from Henry VII to Elizabeth I) and the turmoil that preceded it (100 years War) and the shift to the Jacobean era (will history repeat itself?) feels broad, of course, but also nuanced enough for you to get a foothold. Given Henry VII’ s tenuous claim (his right to the throne through blood was always questioned, while his wife’s blood was not), this was definitely a tension throughout the Tudor reign. Hmmm.
Note: Jen wonders if this is a somewhat arbitrary framework. Is there a reason to being the essay this way? Would a different kind of introduction focus the essay more sharply? “Simple revenge drama . . .” to have teeth, locate in Kyd, perhaps, or other dramatical history. Right now, this comparison feels more like a ladder that could be kicked away. Jen would rather see a larger historical context— how was the overarching tension between stoicism/skepticism playing out during the time Hamlet was composed?
In Tact versus intact. Jen had a chuckle (and a good few minutes trying to figure that one out).
Sentence in the thesis spot: Can this be grounded/contextualized/nuanced? Jen is lacking a “So what” (although she senses there could be MANY and multiple significances— historical, political, in the sense of the dramatic history, etc.