2013 presentations for major works review/Hamlet

• Elsinore, Denmark
• In and around the palace
• Late middle ages
– (1300-1499)
• Both real and feigned.
• Hamlet's mental state and erratic behavior
speaks to the play's overall atmosphere of
uncertainty and doubt.
• Ophelia cracks under the strain of Hamlet's
abuse and the weight of patriarchal forces.
– Has important implications for the play's portrayal
of "Gender" and "Sex."
• The play doesn’t deal with Hamlet’s successful
vengeance on his father's murderer, but with
Hamlet's inner struggle to take action.
• It weaves together three revenge plots, all of
which involve sons seeking vengeance for
their fathers' murders.
• Calls into question the validity and usefulness
of revenge.
Lies and Deceit
• Hamlet hates deception and craves honesty.
• It’s ironic that Hamlet in his quest for truth, is
trapped in a political world where deception is
a necessary part of life.
• Deception is necessary for and used by every
character in Hamlet, for every purpose ranging
from love to parenting to regicide.
• Dwells on the issue of incest between Gertrude
and her brother-in-law
• Hamlet's fixation on his mother.
• Laertes's obsession with Ophelia's sexuality
• Concerned with the way politics impact the
dynamics of family relationships
– when domestic harmony is sacrificed for political gain.
• three revenge plots that all hinge on sons
avenging the deaths of their fathers.
 Promises revenge on Claudius for the murder of King Hamlet -- "So uncle, there you are.
Now to my word. It is 'adieu, adieu, remember me.' I have sworn 't."
 Arranges for a play to be held in an attempt to provoke a reaction in Claudius -- "I'll have
these players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle. I'll observe
his looks; I'll tent him to the quick. If he do blench, I know my course."
 Goes mad, refuses to see Ophelia -- "Get thee to a nunnery." "O, what a noble mind is
here o'erthrown!" (Ophelia)
 Mistakenly kills Polonius
 Goes mad
 Struggles to follow through with avenging his father -- "Yet I, a dull and muddy-mettled
rascal, peak like John-a-dreams, un pregnant of my cause, and can say nothing"
 Cannot kill Claudius while he prays -- "And so he goes to heaven, and so am I revenged.
That would be scanned: a villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do send this
same villain to heaven."
 The army of Fortinbras encourages Hamlet to fulfill his plot of revenge -- "How all
occasions do inform against me and spur my dull revenge."
 He and Gertrude send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet to
discover the source of his madness -- "And I beseech you instantly to visit my
too changèd son." (Gertrude)
 Decides to send Hamlet away to England upon witnessing his insanity -"There's something in his soul o'erthrown which his melancholy sits on brood,
and I do doubt the hatch and the disclose will be some danger; for which to
prevent, I have in quick determination thus set it down: he shall with speed to
England for the demand of our neglected tribute."
 Tries to send Hamlet to his death -- "Do it, England, for like the hectic in my
blood he rages, and thou must cure me."
 Has difficulty coping with what he has done -- "[The King] is in his retirement
marvelous distempered" (Guildenstern)
 Finds himself unable to pray for retribution -- "My words rise up, my thoughts
remain below; words without thoughts never to heaven go."
 Possibly too involved with his children's lives
 sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes in Paris -- "You shall do marvelous
wisely, good Reynaldo, before you visit him, to make inquire of his
behavior." "observe his inclination in yourself"
 Commands Ophelia to reject Hamlet's advances -- "but as you did
command I did repel his letters and denied his access to me."
 He and Claudius observe the interaction of Hamlet and and
Ophelia, and when Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England,
Polonius convinces him to delay until after the play. "My lord, do
as you please, but, if you hold it fit, after the play let his queenmother all alone entreat him to show his grief."
 He hides behind a curtain to listen to the conversation between
Hamlet and Gertrude.
 Very protective of Ophelia, and therefore very wary of
Hamlet -- "For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor,
hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, a violet in the
youth of primy nature, forward, not permanent, sweet,
not lasting, the perfume and suppliance of a minute,
no more." "Perhaps he loves you now, and now no soil
nor cautel doth besmirch the virtue of his will; but you
must fear, his greatness weighed, his will not his own,"
 Vows to avenge Polonius and Ophelia, challenges
Hamlet to a duel.
 External
 It is his goal to lay siege to Elsinore to win back land
that King Hamlet took from his father.
 Hamlet: Crown Prince of Denmark and protagonist of
 Debates with himself about action and inaction, revenge
or cowardice (how he views it).
 King Claudius: Late King Hamlet’s father, Hamlet’s
uncle, Gertrude’s second husband, king of Denmark
during the duration of the play, and the antagonist
 Personifies avarice and the power of greed
 Gertrude: Prince Hamlet’s mother, Queen of Denmark
 Considered a weak woman who is more interested in
attention from others than remaining loyal to her late
• Polonius: Father of Ophelia and Laertes, the advisor to the
 Pompous man overly concerned with image
• Horatio: best friend and college peer to Hamlet
 Signifies loyalty
• Ophelia: Hamlet’s love interest, daughter of Polonius
 Represents innocence
• Laertes: son of Polonius, is often in France, but comes
back to seek revenge on Hamlet
 Vengeful, is a parallel character in some ways and a foil in
others to Hamlet
 Fortinbras: Rebel, warrior prince of Norway (his father
is killed by the late Hamlet), ends up the ruler of
Denmark in the end
 Foil to Hamlet
 The Ghost: of Hamlet’s recently killed father, wants
Hamlet to take revenge on Claudius
 Marcellus and Bernardo: guards, first who sight the
 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Hamlet’s college peers
who are manipulated by Claudius
 “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable, seem to me
all the uses of this world”
“The devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape”“Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and her fair
judgment, Without the which we are pictures, or mere
“Revenge his foul and unnatural murder”
“The chariest maid is prodigal enough, if she unmask
her beauty to the moon:”-Hamlet
“Get thee to a nunnery!”-Hamlet
 “For Hecuba, What’s Hecuba to him, and he to Hecuba?”
“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of
the king.”-Hamlet
“To cut his throat I’ the church”-Laertes
“Is’t to be damn’d to let this canker of our nature come in
further evil?”-Hamlet
“Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,”-Gertrude
“To be, or not to be,”- Hamlet
“’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d”- Hamlet
“Makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others
that we know not of”-Hamlet
 “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;”-Hamlet
 “to show you how a king may go a progress through the
guts of a beggars”-Hamlet
“A ministering angel shall my sister be, when thou liest
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”- Gertrude
“This above all else: to thine ownself be true”-Polonius
“Brevity is the soul of wit”-Polonius
“So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd, will sate itself in a
celestial bed, and prey on garbage”-Hamlet
“I am justly killed with mine own treachery”-Laertes
Hamlet is characterized by subtle and persistent humor. In some
of the most tragic moments of his career he has the sanity to play
with his tormentors and with the sad conditions of his life.
"In Hamlet, the firmament of tragedy is made blacker by the jewels
of humor with which it is bestarred. The first words Hamlet
sighs forth are in the nature of a pun:
"A little more than kin, and less than kind."
The king proceeds: 'How is it that the clouds still hang on you?'
'Not so, my lord; I am too much in the sun,' says Hamlet, toying
with grief. Again, after the ghost leaves, Hamlet in a tornado of
passionate verbiage, gives way to humor. Then he proceeds to
think too precisely on the event. But for his humor Hamlet
would have killed the king in the first act."
In most of his references to the state of affairs in Denmark Hamlet
uses satire:
Hamlet. But what is your affair in Elsinore? ...
Horatio. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
Hamlet. I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student;
I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
Horatio. Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.
Hamlet. Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked-meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
When Polonius comes to summon him to the queen's presence,
Hamlet pokes fun at the old fellow, making him say that "yonder
cloud," first, is "like a camel," then, "like a weasel," and, finally,
"like a whale."
"He has given Hamlet nearly all varieties of humor, from the playful
to the sardonic. Speaking of the king, Hamlet's humor is caustic
and satirical. To Polonius and the other spies he is playful and
contemptuous. In the graveyard over the skulls he is sardonic
and pathetic, and over Yorick's he is melancholy. In all alike he is
sane and thoughtful.
This unfailing humor that toys with life's comedies and tragedies
alike does not come from madness, but from sanity and selfpossession. This should make certain the real soundness as well
as the great fertility of Hamlet's mind. Humor and madness do
not travel the same road."
Motif (n.) Recurring structures, contrasts, and literary
devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s
major themes
 Poison – The use of poison as a
murder weapon is common in
Hamlet, as well as the idea of a
“poisoned” mind"
 “Upon my secure hour thy
uncle stole/ With juice of
cursed hebenon in a vial/ And
in the porches of my ears did
 “Oh, this is the poison of deep
grief. It springs/ All from her
father’s death, and now
 “I’ll have prepared him/ A
chalice for the nonce, whereon
but sipping,/ If he by chance
escape your venemoned
 “O my dear Hamlet! /The
drink, the drink! I am
 Ears/Hearing –
Shakespeare uses this motif
to show that some truths
cannot be derived from
simply observing- that you
must hear in order to
 "And you’ll be obliged to
take revenge, once you’ve
heard it“
 "And in the porches of my
ears did pour / The
leperous distilment“
 "The ears are senseless
that should give us
 Misogyny – Hamlet’s
discontent with his
mother’s decision in the
beginning spurs a motif
of sexism throughout the
“Frailty, thy name is
“Get thee to a
 Yorick’s Skull – This
famous symbol is used to
physically represent
death and its imminence.
 “Alas, poor Yorick!”
 “Alexander died,
Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth
into dust; the dust is
 Disease /Rot– Hamlet uses
imagery of disease and rot to
describe the state of Denmark
and compare political
corruption to a disease rotting
the state, as well as convey his
internal struggle rotting away at
his inner self:
"There is something rotten in
the state of Denmark.“
 “It will but skin and film the
ulcerous place / Whiles rank
corruption, mining all within,
infects unseen.”
 “O that this too too sullied
flesh would melt, / Thaw, and
resolve itself into a dew…”
 Act I, Scene V: In this scene, Hamlet first meets his
father’s ghost. He is informed that his suspicions
regarding his uncle are correct, that he did indeed kill
King Hamlet for his thrown and his wife. The ghost
(whether real or not is up for interpretation) makes
Hamlet promise to avenge his death, while still
abstaining from harming his mother.
 Act III, Scene II: This scene consists of the play
Hamlet has concocted to try and guilt a confession out
of Claudius. He has a group of traveling players act out
the exact murder of King Hamlet and seduction of
Queen Gertrude that Claudius is guilty of. Before the
play has finished, Claudius stands up, exclaims for
light, and leaves the theater, creating chaos in the
audience. Hamlet is incredibly pleased with this
telling reaction.
 Act III, Scene III: In this scene, Claudius sits at
confessional and spills his guilt over the murder of his
brother, spurred by the play Hamlet arranged. Nearby,
Hamlet, in his own world, tries to work up the courage to
take this perfect opportunity to avenge his father’s death.
He talks himself out of it, however, by stating that if he
killed Claudius now, while in confession, his soul would go
to Heaven. It is debated whether this was a true concern of
Hamlet’s, or if he was merely trying to delay the act.
 Act III, Scene IV: Hamlet confronts his mother, Queen
Gertrude, in her bed chamber during this scene. Midway
through lecturing her about her hasty marriage to her first
husband’s brother, a scene that many directors play out in a fairly
aggressive manner, Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, warning
him against harming his mother (this will later turn out to be his
downfall, as Gertrude deems him insane and allows Claudius to
ship him off to England). Hamlet gets unusually in-depth with
his mother’s sexual life during this argument, in a way that many
literary scholars believe to have an Oedipal root.

similar documents