Is there anything Holy in Hamlet?

Is there anything Holy in Hamlet?

By Pr. Rhoda Klein Miller

Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a play steeped in themes of betrayal, revenge, and moral decay. Yet, amid its dark tapestry, there emerges a subtle but profound echo of the Gospel —a whisper of redemption and resurrection that transforms tragedy into a tale of hope.

Hamlet’s quest for truth and justice is motivated by desire to avenge his father’s murder. Hamlet’s journey is marred by doubt and despair and moral quandaries that test his faith and integrity.  By identifying with Hamlet we come to a greater appreciation of Jesus who embodies truth and justice, confronts the corruption and hypocrisy of His time and overcomes the temptation of evil.  

As Hamlet contemplates death and the afterlife in his famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy, we are comforted in the assurance Jesus’ resurrection conquers death and promises eternal life. While Hamlet’s existential dread is fueled by a quest for meaning in a corrupt world, the Gospel promises salvation and the triumph of good over evil.

Moreover, the character of Ophelia can be seen as a Christ-like figure. Her innocence, suffering, and eventual death evoke the imagery of sacrifice and redemption. Like Jesus, her purity is destroyed by the corruption around her, yet her death serves as a catalyst for Hamlet’s ultimate realization and the unfolding tragic resolution.  With Hamlet’s death comes the restoration of order in Denmark, mirroring the concept in baptism illustrating death to self in order to be raised to new life.

Through its rich interplay of themes and characters, “Hamlet” resonates with the Gospel’s enduring message of redemption, sacrifice, and hope, offering a glimpse of light amidst the darkness. Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy thus serves as a profound meditation on the human condition, inviting us to reflect on our own journeys towards truth and salvation.