Hamlet Lecture Notes for Hamlet Exam

Act I Scene 1 1. What time is it? Midnight. Where are we? Castle walls. What’s the Weather like? Cold2. Who do we meet in this scene and what is their status? Marcellus, Francisco, Barnardo are guards (so not upper but not lower status) and Horatio is Hamlet’s best friend (so upper, goes to college at Wittenberg with Hamlet, but not in royal family)3. Write down any descriptions of Denmark –> cold, dark, prison, rotten4. What does Horatio tell us about Fortinbras?5. What effect does the ghost have on the characters? Surprises them. On the audience? Intrigues; interesting play opening***Horatio and Marcellus can hear ghost in Act I Scene 5
Foil Definiton: One that by contrast underscores or enhances the distinctive characteristics of anoretic; a character whose qualities or actions serve to emphasize those of the protagonist (or of some other character) by providing a strong contrast with them*
The Soliloquies Soliloquy: a character alone on stage expressing his/her innermost thoughts and feelings directly to the audience***Type of monologue***Not just protagonists have them***Can create complex audience reaction –> describe struggles w/in a character’s conscious***Breaking the 4th wall –> Whakespeare’s stage had audience on all three sides, so 4th Wall almost already broken, and relationship w/ audience of her established in shakespeare’s plays+The soliloquies are as “deep as the soul of man can go…and as sincere as the Holy Spirit itself in their essence”+Each represent the stages of Hamlet’s psychological progress. Exploration of conscience***Type of monologue? (it is not the only type); monologues/speeches, including one’s in front of other characters, all show Hamlet’s psychological progress?
“To be, or not to be…” (III.i.64-96) ** *MUST* Know All** Branaugh, Crystal, Gibson, OlivierTo Be:*Suffer+Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune+Crap list:-Whips and scorns of time-Insulting behavior and ego-Unrequited love-Law’s delay-Rejections or setbacks from unworthy people-Burdens of life: grunting and sweating-Oppressors-Bad*Fight+A sea of Troubles+(Fortinbras) –> Hamlet’s foils character; Fortinbras takes arms, Hamlet is sadNot to Be*Sleep: ends the heartache and 1000 shocks (slings)…[sounds good but problem is] a DREAM! –> “there’s the rub”*Unknown!+Or is it a nightmare?+The undiscovered country…might be WORSE than life –> this is what makes us “cowards”; keeps us living+Thinking about it, the end no longer seems nice+River –> stopped; will to act destroyed***Here is Hamlet’s flaw: inaction, depressed, can’t move on, can’t act, thinks instead of acting?| | |All this leads to final answer/conclusion (later; Mr. Marcel would argue this soliloquy continues into Hamlet talking to Ophelia)| | | /IT IS BETTER TO HAVE NEVER BEEN”…it were better my mother had not borne me” (III.i.134)Not merely a meditation seriously contemplating suicide.The question is, “What is the power of Hamlet’s mind over a universe of death, or a sea of troubles?”The sea of death must end consciousness (“conscience”).Consciousness (or being) Is given the choice:+Suffer stoically, or+Take arms against the sea, and thus end sooner2 Grand Metaphors+The shuffled-off moral coil (everything we shall lose)+The undiscovered country (the land of death from which no traveler returns…except for King Hamlet)Thus, it’s about Hamlet’s will. He can’t will himself to action, but perhaps the true nature of action is in the mind
Hamlet *The first truly modern man*What is Hamlet’s tragedy?-“The tragedy of a man ___________.”Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw*Many students shared many thoughtsMr. Marcel would arugue that Hamlet is a modern man ahead of his time and actually has no tragic flaw+Struggling with great sadness over loss of father –> today, he would be helped; but his family very unsympathetic_Think soften, but is smart+Mr. Marcel would argue Hamlet has no tragic flaw[-Even though we would expect him to b/c its a tragedy]
The Origins of Hamlet The Ur-Hamlet: 1560+Political Drama, not same character names, clearly different lines of dialogue+King usurped by brother***Title Unknwon, so called Ur-Hamlet***Most of Shakespeare’s plays have original sourceShakespeare’s Hamlet: less political, more domestic
Patterns/Motifs ** *MUST* KNOW ALL** MOTIF = recurring imagery and/or symbolism, a recurrent thematic element1. Rottenness, decay, sickness –> Great chain of being+Elizabethans liked order, so believed chainGod|King|Lords|Etc.***If king dies, link in chain/connection to God is broken –> natural order of the world is upset if that chain is broken+I.e. in Macbeth (horses), King Leer+Treason was a horrible crime considered worse than murder at the time2. Perception vs Reality : “It was like the king” [referring to the Ghost?]3. Playacting, theatre, pretedning to be someone you’re not4. Cosmetics5. Ears***Shakespeare often focuses on 6. MemoryFrom Notes1. Rottenness, decay, sickness –> chain of being2. Playacting, ehtatre, pretending to be someone you’re not3. Ears/head – Memory – “distracted globe”***Shakespeare often focus on body part in each play4. Yorick’s skull, Ophelia’s flowers5. Action vs ianction6. Perception vs reality (for every one of Shakespeare’s plays”7. Madness (feigned or actual)`
Horatio *Horatio is the audience…we are Horatio*Hamlet’s perpetual audience*Without Horatio, we are “too distanced from the bewildering hamlet for Shakespeare to work his guile upon us.”
“the play’s the thing” It is a play about playing, about acting out rather than avenging*Notice how many references there are to acting, actors, plays, theatre, pretending to be someone else, tricksters and deceit, plays within plays, etc.*No other drama is so overtly audience-aware*Shakespeare hiimelf played the Ghost and the Player King [distances him from/indicates he didn’t intend for himself to be Hamlet?]*Hamlet practically raised until the age of 7 by Yorick (V.i.185-189), the royal trickster (hence: great wit, very theatrical)
Nunnery *Hamlet consigns Ophelia to a life of pious chastity*Yet, in effect, he is murdering Ophlia, and starting her on the path to suicide*Hamlet’s lack of sympathy shown here (and in Polonius’s murder, and his killing of R&G)*Hamlet is violent with them, especially Ophelia…Hamlet’s failure to love? He does not want or need love…lonely life.
The Grave-Digger *One of the great clowns (drunken Porter from Macbeth, Cleopatra’s asp salesman)The Gravedigger is the reality principle, mortality, while Hamlet is death’s scholar.***Comedy, but also touches on biggest themes in play
Themes THEME = [the author’s] message[/statement] about lifeHow did Hamlet develop into so extraordinarily ambivalent a consciousness?-Thought vs. ActionWhat is Shakespeare’s message?A meditiaton on death and how we react to the inevitable:-“A meditation upon human fragility in confrontation with death” (Bloom 3)*When playing becomes deceit, the theatricality of life, and how theatre holds the mirror up to ourselves
Soliloquies/Monologoues[M means monologue (I think?)] I.ii.133: “O that this too too sullied flesh…”II.ii.316-334: “I will tell you why…” (m)II.ii.485: “O what a rogue…”III.i.65: “To be or not to be…”III.ii.1-47: “Speak the speech…”III.iii.78” “Now might I do it…”III.iv.63-98: “Look here…” (m)IV.iv.34: “How all occasions…”Analyze the imagery, structure, word choices, and rhetorical devices. How does Shakespeare write it? Divide up the speech beat by beat.How does this speech relate to a theme of the play?Why does Shakespeare include this speech?What can we learn about ourselves/humanity?Perform speech in your own words…be creative!
‘s ‘Sblood = contraction for God’s blood; a solemn oath sworn by God’s blood’Swounds’Slid
Why is Hamlet verbally abusive to Ophelia? ***Angry b/c she returns letters?***Protecting her?***Feigning madness b/c knows being watched?***Angry b/c he has nihilistic conclusions made (and Ophelia does not, so he is angered by her lack of having same conclusion)??
Group Work Death Scenes in Act V*Osric somewhat of a bystander*King trying to hide until the end*Hamlet kills many*Laertes is active*Gertrude dies*Horatio present (for audience?)*Strange beauty?*King and Hamlet exchange pleasantries even though both plotting to kill the other***Hamlet’s soliiloquey w/ Fortinbras Army –> Greatness is golden mean, action matching causeHamelt’s Themes from a Group Presentation*One must learn to face the vicissitudes and ambiguities of life (deal w/ indecision)+Hamlet not willing to move on from past+”Sit you down” –> wants past w/ father+”quintessence” –> Hamlet doesn’t want to do revenge, move on*The passion to bring about revenge corrupt one’s mind+Very indifferent after killing Polonius; murder horrible, but hamlet only sees revenge+Laertes+Bloom –> kills R and G; HOratio (voice of reason) normal respoonse but Hamlet sthrugs off b/c revenge***All above indicate revenge consuming*Be yourself+Polonius –> advises Laertes, but does opposite/is deceptive and murdered while doing os+Laertes –> led to death b/c also ignores Polonius’s advice+Hamlet –> adhering to Ghost***Shakespeare –> humans act and adhere*Taking great responsibility gives one a scene of great conviction+Hamlet and leartes b/c of great responsibility, don’t*Death and how humanity confronts death in diff waysAct V Scene I*Info on Ophelia’s grave –> learning that Ophelia has died upsets Hamlet greatly (but does he really love her?)***Comedy, but also touches on biggest themes in play+Btw 2 Gravediggers –> houses joke+Btw Gfavedigger and Hamlet –> lie+Hamlet’s monologue about skulls-I.e. legal terminology for lawyer, etc.–***yet its philosophicalHamlet thinks much on death, death’s scholar; Gravedigger thinks death just happens, unaffected by it; reality principle, mortality (death happens)+***Hamlet seeing death’s permanenceOphelia*See your own work*We should empathize with her b/c she is driven mad by cruelty of others; consider all of the horrible things people say to her and how others use her as a a pawn*She is driven mad by cruelty of others; she begins as a beautiful, intelligent woman and important character and is driven insane by creulty of others <– Shakespeare trying to express

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