Essay 2: Marxist Critique


In this Marxist Critique of Hamlet, Religious Repression of Reality, I tie in the ideas of Althusser to view the lives of the characters through the Ideological State Apparatuses which construct their society. I provide examples in the play where the ISA of religion is reflected in the thoughts and actions of the characters.

The play shows many different ways the characters are repressed by multiple ISAs, but I decided to focus on the apparatus of religion. The first scene that is analyzed from an Althusser perspective is when Hamlet wants to seek revenge on Claudius but he is conditioned by religion to not follow through. This shows Hamlet under the influence of the apparatus, where as Claudius struggles with his religion since he already violated his religious views by committing murder. He feels that since he already strayed from Christianity, he is unworthy to continue under the ISA. Anther situation in the play, Ophelia’s burial, shows how the apparatus of religion is over ridden by her family’s social rank in society. I structured my essay in this way to show how ISAs were reflected on Shakespeare’s characters through their conditioning, struggle, and betrayal. I hope the reader can see how the structure of apparatuses on the lives of people can cause complexity and see them reflected in the play.