Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

James Walker




Hegel, Shalespeare, poetry, tradgedy, Hamlet


For the means of this project, I am going to analyze G.W.F. Hegel’s theory of art as an initial approach to express Absolute Spirit. I then will apply this theory to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and critically highlight the Hegelian themes within the dramatic play. In order to understand Hegel’s theory of art, it is critical to comprehend his overall philosophy of freedom. I will discuss his use of art in relation to Absolute Spirit, which I will also explain, and provide the theory behind Absolute Spirit as a means to freedom, in the Hegelian sense of the term. I will also trace the primary steps of self-consciousness and Spirit needed to achieve Absolute Spirit. Once the theory of Absolute Spirit is adequately explained, I will re-focus on art as its initial means of expression of Absolute Spirit. From this point, I will exclusively focus on his outline of art, at which dramatic poetry stands the highest. Within dramatic poetry, tragedy is revealed and will thus be the focus of my third chapter, but I will first apply Hegel’s overall theory of art to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In my second chapter I will critically evaluate Hegel’s theory of art and specifically in relation to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I will conclude that although Hegel’s philosophy is sound, it fails to coincide with outside pieces. Concerning Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the tragedy is lacking a strong sense of community and history as well as a complete resolution – all of which Hegel’s theory demands.