Catharsis in Hamlet

Critic Northrup Frye has evaluated Hamlet as a play without catharsis, Ã,ÂÃÂÃÂa tragedy in which everything noble and heroic is smothered under ferocious revenge codes, treachery, spying and the consequences of weak actions by broken wills.Ã,ÂÃÂÃÂ While the play deviates from the traditional definition of catharsis as given by Aristotle in Poetics Ã,ÂÃÂ" Ã,ÂÃÂÃÂthrough pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotionsÃ,ÂÃÂÃÂ Ã,ÂÃÂ" it nonetheless offers a strong purgation of feelings of disgust at the denouement of the play. The elements that Frye argues prevent catharasis are actually what generate the disgust necessary for catharsis to take place. This emotion is suddenly purged through heroism, virtue and restoration of the chain of being at the conclusion of the play.

Frye speculate that Ã,ÂÃÂÃÂferocious revenge codes, treachery, spying, and consequences of weak actions by broken willsÃ,ÂÃÂàintervene with catharsis, but on the contrary, they develop the feeling of disgust that needs to be purged. This differs with the Aristotelian definition of catharsis as purging pity (Ã,,öÃ,ÂûÃ,ÂõÃ,ÂÿÃ,ÂÃÂ) and fear (Ã,ÂÃÂÃ,ÂÃÂÃ,ÂòÃ,ÂÿÃ,ÂÃÂ), but is a form of catharsis nonetheless, one that delivers a...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1190 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 9187 literature essays, 2395 sample college application essays, 405 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in