Peter J. Leithart's recent article in Books & Culture covers an enormous amount of Shakespearean ground, concluding . . . where else but "Why, here in Denmark." The article opens with a claim that is not unusual: that Shakespeare can be [almost] all things to [almost] all people. But, while reviewing and surveying several contemporary analyses of Shakespeare, the article goes deeper and deeper into the idea.
Finally, after a long section on the variety of Hamlets and Hamlets, Leithart concludes with these words:
Even though it seems anit-climactic, his conclusion is level-headed, pertinent, and prescient itself. We could all do well to read Hamlet in this way.If there is a "message" in Hamlet keyed to the historical moment of its first performances, it seems to me the same message of Shakespeare's other plays: It is a Christian humanist's prescient warning that fanaticism will lead to civil war, the killing of a king, and the triumph of amoral Realpolitik. This is the apocalypse whose outlines Shakespeare could already see at the beginning of a century of revolution, the tragic slather of blood he hoped England might become wise enough to avoid.
Links: The Article in Books & Culture.