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International Journal of Language and Literature

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We see the early modern as an open carry society. Hamlet’s success in the swordplay at the end is usually seen as his triumph, fulfilling his father’s injunction at last. The 2013 RSC production of Hamlet projected ambiguity, which I share. The most intriguing angle was Hamlet’s costume. Jonathon Slinger very quickly donned half of a fencing jacket; but the straps of the jacket dangled, strongly suggesting a straight jacket. Half mad, half resolute, Hamlet is driven through much of the play until, I will argue, he reinvents himself as a mad version of divine providence. The providential idea is deeply rooted in the duel ethos, as drawn by Vincentio Saviolo, in Saviolo His Practice. I propose that Hamlet substitutes his will for God’s, claiming the agency of Providence as he strikes down those who beset him. Hamlet’s complacent fatalism is self-constructed as he enacts the Providence he claims to trust. Hamlet’s moral thoughtfulness becomes his downfall, creating the desperation that is his fall from greatness.


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