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Historical and Biographical Approaches in Practice: Hamlet

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1 Historical and Biographical Approaches in Practice: Hamlet
Queen Elizabeth’s advanced age and poor health leads to the precarious state of the succession to the British crown. Queen Elizabeth by Nicholas Hilliard (1585) Hatfield House

2 Hence, Shakespeare’s decision to mount a production of Hamlet, with its usurped throne and internally disordered state, comes as no surprise.

3 Shakespeare's "Hamlet" was a remake of an already popular play, based on an episode from the Dark Ages, the lawless, might-makes-right era that followed the collapse of Roman-era civilization. Ophelia

4 Ophelia’s characterization of Hamlet may be intended to suggest the Earl of Essex.
The portrait of Earl of Essex

5 Another contemporary historical figure, the Lord Treasurer, Burghley, has been seen by some in the character of Polonius. The Lord Treasurer, Burghley

6 Knowing about eleventh-century Danish court life or about Elizabethan England is particularly germane to analysis of Hamlet.

7 In Hamlet’s day the Danish throne was an elective one
In Hamlet’s day the Danish throne was an elective one. The royal council, composed of the most powerful nobles in the land, named the next king. The third quarto of Hamlet (1605); a straight reprint of the 2nd quarto (1604)

8 Hamlet, Gertrude and the ghost
The custom of the throne’s descending to the oldest son of the late monarch had not yet crystallized into law.

9 The charge of incest against the Claudius
Although her second marriage to the brother of her deceased husband would not be considered incestuous today by many civil and religious codes, it was so to considered in Shakespeare’s day. Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard, 1839

10 What is “melancholy” to Elizabethans?
Nervous instability. Rapid and extreme changes of feeling and mood. The disposition to be for the time absorbed in a dominant feeling or mood, whether joyous or depressed. Hamlet and the grave diggers by Jean Dagnan-Bouverte

11 If we examine Hamlet’s actions and speeches closely in an Elizabethan’s eyes, we will realize that at least part of Hamlet’s problem is that he is a victim of extreme melancholy. Ophelia drowned

12 Different versions of Hamlet
Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet Hamlet in Germany Hamlet in Germany The Raj Hamlet Shakespeare set in India

13 Many Hamlets Laurence Olivier as Hamlet
Mel Gibson as Hamlet, with Glenn Close as Gertrude Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet Richard Burton as Hamlet

14 Ethan Hawke as Hamlet, with Julia Stiles as Ophelia
Campbell Scott as Hamlet Kevin Kline as Hamlet, with Dana Ivey as Gertrude Ethan Hawke as Hamlet

15 Shamlet! 莎姆雷特劇照 莎姆雷特官網 「莎姆雷特」彩排,水晶燈掉落

16 Related links and Resources about Shakespeare and Hamlet
The life of Queen Elizabeth– BBC- Drama- 60 seconds Shakespeare   屏風表演班 <<莎姆雷特>>– our Hamlet Hamlet in Wikipedia

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