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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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1 The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
By William Shakespeare

2 Hamlet: You are the only child of a mother and father who are married. They have been married your whole life. Your mother is a queen, and you are next in line for the throne. Your father dies. Your mother remarries in only 2 months. Your new step-dad is your uncle, your father’s brother. You are the only person who is not celebrating. Your best friend tells you that he has seen your father’s ghost ... it wants to see you... Your father’s ghost tells you that he was MURDERED by his brother, your uncle, your mother’s new husband ... the man who is THE NEW KING.

3 Historical Context Age characterised by turmoil and uncertainty.
A time of religious doubt. Threat of foreign invasion. People did not know who to trust. Problems of succession, Queen Elizabeth had ruled Briton for 45 years but she was getting old, who would lead the country? (James ) Elizabethan England was a police state. Spies recorded everthing. The national religion changed from Catholicism to Protestantism, a religious revolution started by Henry the Eighth. (Three changes within 12 years) 1588 Shakespeare was 24. Spanish Arnarda is on the way. The coast is heavily watched. Victory helps create the myth of Queen Elizabeth.

4 The Poisoned State The Elizabethan’s believed that the ruler was the life giving center of the kingdom, with power bestowed by God. The sickness of the leader is a national calamity. Hamlet is the story of a ruined kingdom. Claudius’ reign looks impressive but is hollow. Discrepancy between appearance and reality. Polonius, Leartes, Ophelia… Everything is rotten: sickness, madness, poison (both literal and figurative).

5 Questions Questions are about the limits of our perception; what we can and cannot see. “A play about doubt, about being unsure, about ambiguity. “Who’s there reverberates though the entire play.” Huw Griffiths Act 1 scene 1 sets the atmosphere for the play. Doubt, limited perception, who can see who?

6 See stick figure summary of Act 1 .1
MARCELLUS: Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy And will not let belief take hold of him Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us. Therefore I have entreated him along With us to watch the minutes of this night, That if again this apparition come He may approve our eyes and speak to it.

7 HAMLET “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.”
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage, Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, That can denote me truly. These indeed “seem,” For they are actions that a man might play. But I have that within which passeth show, These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

8 Paragraph One (lines 1-129): How are we introduced to Hamlet
Paragraph One (lines 1-129): How are we introduced to Hamlet? How are we introduced to Claudius? 7 minutes Ambiguity surrounding Claudius’s intentions? His tone, attitude & treatment of Hamlet? Is he: warm & supportive; hard & uncompromising; rebuking Hamlet; reasonable & sincere; addressing the court rather than Hamlet personally? Significance of introduction to Hamlet through an aside? Characterisation of Hamlet: emotional, melancholy, grief-stricken? Masculinity? (“unmanly grief”)

9 Allusions and analysis of Hamlet’s first soliloquy
Hyperion- one of the Titans (Greek)- a sun-god Satyr- half human but with the legs of a goat.. synonymous with lechery. Niobe- the mythical mother whose fourteen children were slain by the gods…she wept until she was turned to stone-and still the tears flowed.

10 Paragraph 2 explore Hamlet’s soliloquy. Allow 7 minutes
What does he feel about the world right now? What does Hamlet think of Gertrude? “O” creates an air of heaviness, depression and woe. Notice the use of commas before and after “thaw” slow the language down. Repetition is used to indicate Hamlet’s desperation and incomprehension at the speed at which his mother remarried? Explain the metaphor of the unweeded garden. Hamlet’s problems are seen as titanic and this impossible to overcome. Notice the tone of fury and disbelief.

11 A meditation on suicide (a sin and a crime)
Hamlet established as a man with a fine mind, his world seems increasingly meaningless. long drawn out vowel sounds a tone of exhaustion, despondency and bitterness synecdoche- part represents the whole- flesh to represent his physical life metaphor of an unweeded garden indicating corruption Allusions to compare his father to Claudius rhetorical devices: repetition, rhetorical questions, exclamation Hamlet’s attitude towards woman moves from the personal to the general...relationships with woman continually disappoint incestuous sheets “Marriage to a brother’s wife was explicitly forbidden by the Church” drawn out vowels, sharp, rhythmic consonants imagery: organic, kinesthetic, tactile, visual... personal pronouns strong adjectives and verbs rapid sentence breaks Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew, Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on ’t, ah fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this. But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two. So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a satyr. So loving to my mother That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly.—Heaven and earth, Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on, and yet, within a month— Let me not think on ’t. Frailty, thy name is woman!— A little month, or ere those shoes were old With which she followed my poor father’s body, Like Niobe, all tears. Why she, even she— O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason Would have mourned longer!—married with my uncle, My father’s brother, but no more like my father Than I to Hercules. Within a month, Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes, She married. O most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not nor it cannot come to good, But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

12 Act 1 scene 3 characterisation of Polonius
Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel, But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, Bear ’t that th' opposèd may beware of thee. Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.

13 Paragraph Three allow 7 minutes
Characterisation of Polonius? Is he: a pompous bureaucrat; a loving father; an authoritarian guardian? Polonius’s 8 sentences of advice? On speech, friendship, quarrelling, judgement, dress, money & consistency? Ophelia: lock/key analogy but doesn’t hold tongue? Why? Polonius’s treatment of Ophelia & view of Hamlet & young love?

14 Act 1 scene 4- Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned, Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, Be thy intents wicked or charitable, Thou comest in such a questionable shape That I will speak to thee. I’ll call thee “Hamlet,” “King,” “Father,” “royal Dane.” O, answer me!

15 Act 1 .4 HORATIO: What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff That beetles o'er his base into the sea, And there assume some other horrible form, Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason And draw you into madness? Think of it.

16 Paragraph 4- write for 7 minutes
Hamlet’s reaction to the Ghost? Is he more: amazed; questioning; fearful; pleading? Hamlet’s steely determination & will to follow Ghost? Ironic decisiveness? Talk of courage & madness? Rotting/corruption motif?

17 Act 1:5- I am thy father’s spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night And for the day confined to fast in fires, Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison house, I could a tale unfold whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part

18 Elizabeth Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe. Spanish Armada defeated. First American settlement. cusp of medieval and modern world

19 Context 2 Renaissance-growth of liberal ideas that focused on the value of the individual. This milieu valued intellect, ideas, philosophy and moral speculation. Structured and ordered society with a stricty hierarchy of class and position. The disrupted state is restored to social and political stability at the end of the play Elizabethan values: a belief in Christianity and faith- reinforcing the notions of sin, virtue, fixed moral laws, punishment and redemption.

20 Elizabethan revenge tragedy
Exposition Act 1 Anticipation Act 2 Confrontation Act 3 Delay Act 4 Completion Act 5

21 Hamlet breaks iambic pentameter- lack of control
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! …What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do Had he the motive and the cue for passion That I have?... Hamlet breaks iambic pentameter- lack of control Rhetorical questions put emphasis on Hamlet’s motivation and lack of resolve. Use of apostrophe, exclamation and negative adjectives to berate himself and incite himself to action. Self loathing (criticism)- indicative of his grief.

22 Ha? 'Swounds, I should take it; for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall… Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! Hamlet berates himself as a coward? Is he? What is holding him back from taking revenge. The alliteration and exclamations break the rhythm and conveys Hamlet’s disgust at Claudius. He appears to work himself up into a frenzy with the four linked adjectives and the repetition of “villain”

23 Why, what an ass am I? Ay, sure, this is most brave,
O, vengeance!— Why, what an ass am I? Ay, sure, this is most brave, That I, the son of the dear murderèd, Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words… The spirit that I have seen May be the devil, and the devil hath power T' assume a pleasing shape;.... I'll have grounds More relative than this. The play's the thing Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King. How important is catching the “conscience of the King”? Rhyming couplet drives his idea home and reinforces his resolve. Use of monosyllabic words and confident tone emphasise the importance of the plan to test the ghosts’ words.

24 12 cases of espionage. People watching others, people being watched.
Night watch Polonius employs Reynaldo to spy on Laertes Ros and Guil asked to spy on Hamlet Polonius “loose” his daughter to Hamlet “To be or not to be..” watched The Mousetrap Ros and Guil sent to England with Hamlet Hamlet watches Claudius at prayer Polonius behind the arras in Gertrude’s chamber The ghost invisible to Gertrude Ophelia to be followed and watched Hamlet and Horatio watch Ophelia’s funeral

25 The following slides are for after the play has been studied.

26 Personal engagement Engage with the text and its ideas confronts aspects of the text Almost everyone in Hamlet is crippled by grief. Act 3.1 presents a meditation of the paralysing impact that grief has on the human psyche. Hamlet will remain ineffective until he has grieved and forced some sign of remorse from his mother. “closet scene” of Act 3.4, “Leave wringing of your hands…And let me wring your heart.”

27 Development of knowledge and understanding of the prescribed text
exploration of the ideas …detailed and close analysis of its construction, content and language…how particular features of the text contribute to textual integrity. Most famous soliloquy-centre of the play-imagery and preoccupations resonate through the play as a whole. Death, deception, disillusionment, procrastination…textual integrity Pivot, hinge, “labyrinths of thought” Schlegel Romantic critics “prince of philosophical speculators” Hazlitt

28 Human condition-audience can connect
The Hamlet of Goethe “[Hamlet] sinks beneath a burden which it cannot bear…” “To be, or not to be: that is the question:” antithesis, unusual syntax- … Metonymy- sleep =death Metaphor of the “undiscover'd country”… Religious connotations, problematic nature of the ghost Imagery of isolation and battle- help reinforce the heavy ponderous tone

29 Development of an informed response
others’ perspectives of the text are explored and tested against students’ own understanding, informed by notions of context. Grief-Validated by Zefferelli- claustrophobic space of the tomb, the soliloquy delivered over the effigy of his father.

30 Articulation of an informed personal response and understanding
deep individual understanding of the text through thoughtful exploration of questions of textual integrity and significance, with a heightened sense of the complex processes by which meaning is made. Character and the preoccupations echo throughout the seven soliloquies Gertrude says it best “His father’s death, and our o’erhasty marriage.” Uses his skills in rhetoric to maintain control and come to terms with death and fate Forcing his mother to grieve and coming to terms with death- willing to act “the readiness is all.”


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