HAMLET ACT 5 SCENE 1 Act 5 scene 1: what’s the point? Couldn’t we do without 5.1? As far as the plot of the play is concerned, the only thing that happens in the scene is that the threat to Hamlet's life is intensified. Is the scene important? (hint: YES ) What is the purpose of the scene? PURPOSE A major purpose of the scene is to show the development of Hamlet's character. But development in what direction? He banters about death with the gravedigger, with Yorick's skull, and with Horatio, then flashes into anger at Laertes' grief over Ophelia. This is a scene about Hamlet’s character (there have been many), but what’s missing? There’s no soliloquy!! This scene is where we solidify our ideas on Hamlet’s character, and we are not given the benefit of Hamlet’s soliloquy to guide us. So what do we still need to solidify in our minds: Is he mad? Did he love Ophelia? The Gravediggers What is their purpose? They are “clowns” meant to be funny. If this scene is performed correctly, it is laugh out loud funny. Ironic because they are portrayed as ignoramuses, but they are very philosophical and profound in their words (although this is almost always overlooked). They underscore the suicide and make us question it. They are a very common man, yet even they know of Hamlet’s madness They help Hamlet realize that death happens to everyone and life goes on Line 9 First Clown offers the idea that it wasn't suicide if she drowned herself in self-defense. Trying to sound smart, he proves his point by offering a fragment of fractured Latin: "It must be "se offendendo "; it cannot be else“ (killing someone) If the clown knew what he was talking about, he would have said "se defendendo“ (killing in self defense) But how do you defend yourself against an offense committed by yourself in defense of yourself? This is absurd and we would be laughing, BUT… their absurdities are not so absurd In fact, we think that the most common reason for suicide is that people "can't stand it anymore." They commit suicide because they are in unremitting pain, physical or psychological. So they do commit suicide in self-defense. Hamlet said so much when he asked why anyone would put up with the insults of life, "When he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin? (3.1) What do we learn from Hamlet’s exchange with the gravediggers? Hamlet is quick-witted He seems normal?! ? ? ? Line 261 Laertes curses Hamlet, then leaps into Ophelia's grave, saying "Hold off the earth awhile, / Till I have caught her once more in mine arms./ Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead.“ Why is Hamlet so angry that he is willing to jump in (stepping on Ophelia) to fight with Laertes? What matters, as he explains to Horatio in 5.2, is that "the bravery of his grief did put me / Into a towering passion." What does he mean? What does this tell you about Hamlet? If Hamlet hadn't rushed out to join Laertes in the grave, would Laertes have actually stayed in there while the gravedigger shoveled dirt onto him? Why is Hamlet so enraged by Laertes’ words and actions? Line 267 "What is he whose grief / Bears such an emphasis? whose phrase of sorrow / Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand / Like wonder-wounded hearers?" What does Hamlet mean? Is there any irony? What is he bothered by? Line 285 “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers / Could not, with all their quantity of love, / Make up my sum“ What does it mean? Are you surprised? Let’s talk about language Remember, Shakespeare used language, literary elements, poetry and form to inform us about characterization. Hamlet’s way of speaking differs according characters involved and circumstance. Consider Hamlet’s soliloquy and dialogue with Ophelia in 3.1? How can we characterize his speaking? Why does Shakespeare write his speaking that way? What is the result of his speaking that way? Now, consider Hamlet’s dialogue with the characters (particularly Laertes) in 5.1: How can we characterize his speaking? Why does Shakespeare do this? Ultimately, what do YOU decide about Hamlet as a result of his language / speaking choices? As a result of 5.1, do we solidify our thoughts on: his mental state? his feelings for Ophelia?