Engaging Hamlet and Moby Dick: A Case Study in Inter-generic Affinity


  • Govind R Assistant Professor Department of English M.S.M. College, Kayamkulam India
  • Neethu Varghese Assistant Professor Department of English B.C.M. College, Kottayam India


William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (c1600) and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851) are epitomes of the respective genres of drama and fiction. Separated by thousands of miles, and two centuries and a half, the two authors, however, seem to share a penchant for exploring the dark recesses of the human mind, and to take recourse to almost the same tropes of literary expression. Humanism and the philosophy of individualism which were in their blooming stage when Shakespeare produced his works, took some time to cross the Atlantic, and attain maturity as critical thought on the American soil. The pitfalls of individualism and romantic idealism become concerns in both works. Above all, the pivotal factor in both the narratives is the human urge for revenge. It is also curious to find that apart from the thematic focii that unites the two works, certain structural similarities, in terms of elements like plot progression, rhetorical ruminations, soliloquies, conflictual intensities and character orientation, also underlie the two narratives. The dramatic element in Moby Dick and the prosaic dialecticism in Hamlet could be seen to unite them in purpose and execution.  Both works display subtle and careful commentaries on the vagaries of power and its connection to nation’s identity.The paper tries to examine the structural and thematic confluences and divergences these two works exhibit.


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