While youth’s subordinate position in Hamlet has played a vital role within the play’s critical tradition, this tradition has not questioned the ideological processes that create “youth” as a social category—that define what youth means, whom it includes, and why. Rather than portray an archetypal contest between the young and the old or portray Hamlet’s developmental progression from youth to maturity, the play examines the production and application of these categories as political phenomena. By exposing the circumscribed logic that produces these categories, Hamlet fractures the ideological justifications for early modern constructions of youth and age.


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