Hamlet: An Introduction. Objectives Define by example the terms tragedy and tragic hero Show Hamlet to be an example of Renaissance tragic hero Identify.

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Hamlet: An Introduction

Hamlet: An Introduction

ObjectivesDefine by example the terms tragedy and tragic heroShow Hamlet to be an example of Renaissance tragic heroIdentify and discuss the characteristics of this play that mark it as a Shakespearean tragedyTrace Hamlets evolving psychological and emotional state and how his condition is reflected in his soliloquiesAnalyze the characters of Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius, Polonius, and Ophelia and their relationships to each otherDiscuss the techniques Shakespeare uses to convey character and character relationships to his audienceIdentify and analyze the use of comic reliefOffer a close reading of Hamlet and support all assertions and interpretations with direct evidence from the text, from authoritative critical knowledge of the genre, or from authoritative criticism of the play

Notable AspectsGenreTragedy, specifically a revenge tragedyStructureA play in five acts, but the elapsed time span divides the action into three partsCharacterSeven soliloquies articulate the Princes state of mindEven the villain has a conscienceParents and children, especially fathers and sonsIdeas and ImageryA ghost evokes more issues about the soul and afterlife than about the supernaturalA garden, graves, make-up, theater/acting/role-playing, and other imagery

English Tragedy Usually InvolvesSomeone in a high place (ruler, general, noble) whose own flaws and choices feed the downfall or who gets set up by an unscrupulous villainAmbition is a common tragic impetus in the Renaissance, as is love or a conflict of values (as in Hamlet with revenge)Tragic protagonists eventually have to recognize their faults and mistakes or the failure of their willful wrongdoing and accept responsibility for itIn most tragedies, there is a point of no return, at which the protagonist is inescapably bound to disasterPerspectives on the Action: RevengeMurder is as old as Cain and Abel. Between brothers, through time, it may be the legacy of primogeniture and the attendant jealousy of younger sons, or it may be the continuation of an infants wanting the toy a sibling has. Usually an urge to strike back follows. It points to a deep and violent aspect of the human characterthe willingness to take the law into ones own handsprompted by an equally deep and destabilizing sense of being wronged. Pain, suffering, and violence keep audiences entranced by the stage or the screen. How many stories and songs share the Ive been done wrong or Youll be sorry motif, one of the primal human themes, as potent as young love, which is often a contributing factor.Hamlet is a tale of two brothers, a crown they both wear, and the woman they both marry. Not surprisingly, those events occur by means of murder, and, consequently, Hamlet also becomes a tale of three sons of slain fathers, each seeking vengeance or restitution.Common Revenge ElementsThe discovery of a murder or other wrongA need to find who done it, for that is unknown or secret for a timeA need for justice but the inability to get it because the murderer is in power or closely linked to that powerDerangement or madness on the part of the avengerA passage of time between discovery of the wrong and the enactment of revengeA play within a play as part of the elaborate plan for revengeA pile of bodies at the endThe avenger not surviving his revenge

I. Shakespeare and His TimesIdeas that characterized the Renaissance of 1500-1650:Humans had the potential for development.The idea of medieval Christianity, that this world is a preparation for eternal life, was questioned. Instead, people began to see everyday life as meaningful and an opportunity for noble activity.This was a time for heroes. The ideal Elizabethan man was a talented courtier, adventurer, fencer, poet, and conversationalist. H was a witty and eloquent gentleman who examined his own nature and the causes of his actions.

Marriages were arranged, usually for wealth.Women had a lower social status than men.People were concerned over the order of things. They felt there was a great chain of being. This concept originated with Plato and expressed the idea that there is a proper order within all things from the tiniest grains of sand to heaven and God. When everything was in its proper position, there was harmony. When the order was broken, everything was upset, and everyone suffered.People felt that their rulers were Gods agents. To kill a king was a heinous crime; the heavens would show ominous signs when such evil was present.

II. Features of Shakespeares Character and Theme Development1. Formal versus informal forms of addressTwo forms of second-person address: you (formal) and thou (informal)Formal used when an inferior was speaking to a superior, when two business colleagues who were not close friends were speaking, or when the speaker wanted to maintain a distanceInformal was more intimate and used among friends, family members, and persons to whom the speaker wanted to imply closeness

Act I, Scene ii: Claudius addresses Laertes, inviting him to present his petition to return to France

And now, Laertes, whats the news with you?You told us of some suit. What ist, Laertes?You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg, Laertes,That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?

As the King shifts from the formal to the familiar, a reader can almost see him rise from the throne, step down from the dais, and place a warm and friendly arm around Laertes shoulders.

King Claudius: But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my sonHow is it that the clouds still hang on you?Queen Gertrude: Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Queen Gertrude: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offendedHamlet: Mother, you have my father much offended.

2. MotifsThe Garden/SerpentBelief is that Hamlets father died after being stung by a snake while napping in his garden, but the Ghost says, The serpent that did sting thy fathers life / Now wears his crown.Allusion to the Garden of Edenwhat is it that is the sin for Adam and Eve? How does Hamlet also lose his innocence?Act I, scene ii: Hamlet says the world is an unweeded garden / That grows to seed (ground is cursed, Gen. 3:18)Ophelias flowersGravediggers reference to his graveyard as a garden and himself to Adam

Hamlets desire for (and concept of ) DeathImages of disease and decayMeta-fiction/Meta-dramaMeta-fiction: comments on the very devices of fiction it employs; usually involves irony and is self-reflectiveMeta-drama: calls attention to itself as a play or has occasion to comment on its own actions and devices

III. Dramatic Conventions and Authors TechniquesSoliloquy: monologue with the character alone on stage; device used to give the audience insight into the characters thoughts and emotionsAside: device used to give the audience insight into the character, who is speaking to himself or directly to the audience; other characters do not hear itAllusion: indirect reference to another event, person, or work with which the writer assumes the reader is familiar; used to establish character, build theme, and set mood (particularly Greek and Roman mythology, Roman history, and the Bible in Hamlet)Use of the supernaturalMadness, either real or pretended (popular in Elizabethan drama)Tragic heroConflict (primarily internal in Hamlets case)IV. Ghosts, Girlfriends, and Graveyards1. The Ghost of Hamlets fatherFor Shakespeares audience, a matter of great philosophical debate because Protestants did not believe in ghosts, simply an afterlife of heaven or hell from which the soul did not return; some did believe demons could assume the likeness of the deadCatholics, however, believed in afterlife regions of Limbo and Purgatory, and it might be possible for souls to return to earth while existing in these regionsI am thy fathers spirit, / Doomd for a certain term to walk the night, / And for the day confined to fast in fires, / Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature / Are burnt and purged away (in Catholic Purgatory could honestly be Hamlets father)Hamlet and Horatio are being educated in the very-Protestant Wittenberg (1517 Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation in Wittenberg), which justifies their first thought that the ghost is a demon2. OpheliaWhat role does she play in his madness? Does he really love her? What is the effect of her betrayal?Why does she apparently go mad?She is a young girl who has no choice but to obey her father. She will dutifully marry the man he chooses.She is in love with a man who falls out of favor with everyone, including her father.She sees Hamlets pain but is manipulated by her father and the king to spy on Hamlet.Consider the effect of what occurs between her father and Hamlet and the effect on her, especially how guilty she may feel for her involvement.Eve vs. the Virgin MarySeducing temptress vs. innocent and virtuousHamlets anger at his mother directed toward Ophelia (consider how he begins to view all women)3. GraveyardsHamlet sees Death as the great equalizer, but the gravediggers complain that class distinctions exist even in deathGroups not eligible for full Christian burial in hallowed ground: unbaptized persons (including babies); suicides; unmarried, pregnant women; and any person who died in a state of mortal sinNot uncommon to be buried in a preused grave, especially for lower classesAllows comic relief and allows Hamlet to philosophize about dead and the purpose of earthly strife and his personal feelings for the deadTreatment of the dead mirrors the statement about the rottenness of Denmark

Timeline: Prior to the Plays Beginning30 years prior to the beginning of the playPrince Hamlet is bornHamlet, Sr. kills Fortinbras, Sr. of Norway; his brother takes over as tributary regent (and will be bedridden as the play opens)A new gravedigger and sexton is appointed in Elsinore23 years priorYorick, the kings jester, dies (Hamlet, as a boy, had spent a lot of time with him)

Timeline: The Year of the PlayTuesday, March 20 the year of the playKing Hamlet dies in his garden, mid afternoonMessengers are sent to Hamlet in Wittenberg (could make it in 2-3 days)Monday, March 26Hamlet arrives at Elsinore from school for the funeralThursday, March 30Horatio and Laertes (separately) arrive at Elsinore for the funeralFriday, March 31Funeral of Hamlet, Sr. ten days after his deathA week of public mourning follows

Timeline: Six Weeks After the FuneralSunday, May 6Claudius marries GertrudeClaudius is probably lobbying electors to let him be the next kingWednesday, May 16Electors decide Claudius is the most fit to handle the current political situationClaudius is crownedSaturday, May 19 (midnight)Hamlet, Sr.s ghost appears for the first time

Timeline: Two Months After Hamlet, Sr.s DeathMonday, May 21Midnight: Ghost appears on the battlements to Bernardo, Marcellus, and Horatio11:00 a.m.: Claudius addresses the public assembled at the first council since the marriage and election of Claudius as kingClaudius sends Voltimand to Norway and names Prince Hamlet most immediate to the throne (after himself)Claudius requests Hamlet stay at ElsinoreHamlet meets Horatio and learns of the GhostHamlet agrees to meet on the battlements that night between 11:00 and midnight

Parodies and Informational ClipsThe Simpsons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyQLJyW4Rk0 John Green: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My14mZa-eq8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDCohlKUufs Thug Notes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A98tf9krihg SparkNotes Summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0CqUTmwKiM Montage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVph4-BWnkI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUbqfmBIQG4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvsTcOvr-wk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbRnOQmmZY0


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