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Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Critical Theory Research

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1 Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Critical Theory Research
English 4, honors Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Critical Theory Research

2 “Mourning and Misogyny” by Steven Mullaney
Types of Criticism: Historical/Biographical Feminist Freudian Psychological Criticism

3 Mourning and Misogyny Major Arguments
What is misogyny? Misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.

4 Mourning and Misogyny Major Arguments cont.
What is the reason for the misogyny in Hamlet? End of Elizabeth’s reign – ushering in a king (patriarchal universe) Political misogyny prevalent at the time period Ambivalent, ambiguous portrayals of Elizabeth (both of the queen and of women)

5 Misogyny and Mourning cont.
Misogyny is part of the mourning process. Have to vilify to grieve, especially when the woman is such an important figure Misogyny is a vehicle for mourning. Emotions have a history. Popular theater considered quasi-illicit and was geared toward a highly diverse culture that was not all literate nor refined. Drama a catharsis of mourning

6 Mourning and Misogyny cont.
Queen portrayed in paintings as highly sexualized (“inch thick paintings”) Symbolic of a “healthy” body politic Portrayals of Elizabeth incongruous and violating also Elizabethan audience might connect Gertrude to Elizabeth. Play could be an attempt to resolve or stage contradictions associated with portrayals of Elizabeth. Hamlet unable to properly mourn because he is so distracted and disgusted by his mother’s sexuality and illicit desire Violation of Elizabeth – violation of women

7 “Hamlet on the Couch” by W.F. Bynum
Types of Criticism: Psychological Criticism Historical/Contextual Criticism Biographical Criticism Formalism

8 “Hamlet on the Couch” cont.
Major Arguments: Must judge, evaluate a work in its proper context Hamlet studied psychoanalytically for centuries – part of its history Multiple practitioners analyzing Hamlet as a subject Plethora of psychological diagnoses, but Hamlet confounds them all.

9 “Hamlet on the Couch” cont.
18th Century – Hamlet reasoned figure – madness pretended Romantics – Hamlet all-human – full range of human emotion, except the ability to act – Everyman 19th Century – viewed Hamlet as insane based on several factors (suicidal tendencies, warnings of feigned madness, inaction, moral madness) Coming of Freud – Oedipal complex Hamlet now come full circle – represents all of us in some way After all, maybe it’s all just an act (“A recorder is brought on, and Hamlet challenges Guildenstern to play upon it:”

10 Types of Criticism: Historical Criticism Formalism
“Old King, New King, Eclipsed Sons, and Abandoned Altars in Hamlet by Elizabeth S. Watson Types of Criticism: Historical Criticism Formalism

11 Old King, New King cont. Major Arguments:
Wordplay in Hamlet mimics changes, transformations in history Wordplay = unresolved issues, particularly changes in church Religion (Catholicism) – altars fading What is the religious backdrop for Hamlet? Uncertainty = slippery wordplay

12 Old King, New King cont. Emerging English Church of Reformation
Hamlet’s family antithesis of Holy Family Doubling, splitting, mirroring = break off of Catholic Church Two fathers could represent two fathers of different churches Hamlet – play of reversals – maimed rights and altered customs = fading of altars Decline in belief in Purgatory – Ghost – “Remember me!” Fall – murder of brother – Cain and Abel The Pun – finally amalgamation of old and new – bridge words

13 Popular Cultural Criticism
“Shakespeare after Columbine: Teen Violence in Tim Blake Nelson’s ‘O’” by Gregory M. Colon Semenza Type of Criticism: Popular Cultural Criticism

14 Shakespeare after Columbine cont.
Major Arguments: Does art reflect life or vice versa? What is the role of popular culture on literature? On humanity? Writer/producer drew from what he saw in epidemic of teen violence Can young viewers understand well enough to be influenced? Could Shakespeare be a lens through which to study violence and, thereby, help society to understand/ extinguish teen violence?

15 Shakespeare after Columbine cont.
Manipulative marketing of Shakespeare to teens E.g. other “teen” Shakespeare films Not all children behave the same Age is not necessarily a predictor of human behavior “O” supposedly presents complicated, “real” portrayals “O” ultimately is about simplistic and self-serving readings of teen behavior Teens are smarter and more complicated than these “teen” portrayals of Shakespeare present.

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