Time, place, and subplots

William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” does not fulfill the Aristotelian principle of three units, namely time, space, and plot. The rules of a tragedy following the classicist pattern, which state that leaps in time, changes of place and subplots are excluded in the play, are not taken into account in "Hamlet".

Shakespeare first violates the unity of time. According to classical understanding, a play should avoid time jumps. The action in "Hamlet" does not last 24 hours, but takes place within several weeks. Hamlet tells in Act 1 that the king has been dead for "two months" (1.2.141). The acts, however, build closely on each other, chronologically speaking. At most, they are separated by a day or two.

We do not have a unity of place either. Although the revenge drama is set primarily in the Danish royal castle of Elsinore, ot...

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