2 BusinessYour outlines are due today. They will be returned at our next class session.I will hand back your midterm exams at the end of today’s class. Please remind me.Let’s talk about the exam.Part OnePart Two
3 Looking Ahead Upcoming assignments: heavy lifting. Full researched draft: Wednesday, April 8th (two weeks from today).Final portfolio: Monday, April 27th (four and a half weeks from today).Cover letterConference abstractFinal draftFinal exam on our last 3 plays: Monday, May 4th (five and a half weeks from today).Timing: I wish that I could give you more time; however, revision requires the schedule that I have mapped out on the calendar.
4 Outline Day One: Day Two: Day Three: Background: Aristotle, Denmark The king’s opening speechThe ghostHamlet’s uncertaintyDay Two:Three of Hamlet’s soliloquies: ff., ff., and ff.Group activity: lots of fun.Day Three:Psychology: Elizabethan, Freudian, JungianHamlet as scourge and ministerThe ending and closureIf time allows: Ophelia’s mad songs, Gertrude’s “mermaid” speech. For the latter, see Fike, A Jungian Study of Shakespeare: The Visionary Mode, chapter 5.
5 CardsHand out cards.Please return the cards at the end of the hour.
6 Bedford Companion Problems > characters unhappy ending Aristotle’s Poetics:Fear and pity catharsis (purgation); see 101.Tragedy is an imitation of an action.A whole has a beginning, a middle, and an end.Reversal (peripety) and discovery (anagnorisis, an-ag-nawr-uh-sis).Hamartia: “some great error” (105); “an error in action [i.e., a mistake] rather than…a fatal weakness of character” (88).How might these characteristics apply to Hamlet?
7 Bedford 90“It is worth pointing out that a philosopher’s reflections on the emotional effect of Greek tragedy may be of limited relevance to a sixteenth-century English audience’s experience of Shakespeare’s efforts in that form, and also to our own.”Another model: Sidney’s Defense in Bedford :Delight teach moral improvement.Comedy:folly::tragedy:tyranny.
8 Why hasn’t Hamlet become king by succession? #1, & : The office is elective (11th century Danish court).#2, ff.: His position is that Claudius stole the throne: he is a usurper.Claudius is a legitimate king, but Hamlet thought that he would succeed his father by election if not by primogeniture.
9 The King’s Opening Speech 1.2.1ff.How is the speech organized?Lines 5-14: What is he saying?Does how he says it bother you? Does this reveal anything about him? (See next slide.)How do tone and style change at line 17?What policy does he propose? Is he successful? See #3, ff.Cf. “busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels” (2H4).What qualities do Claudius and Hamlet have in common?#3, ff.: “mighty opposites”Why was it wrong in Shakespeare’s day to marry your brother’s widow?
10 Stephen Booth’s Comment “The simple but contorted statement, ‘therefore our Sister Have we Taken to wife,’ takes Claudius more than six lines to say; it is plastered together with a succession of subordinate unnatural unions made smooth by rhythm, alliteration, assonance, and syntactical balance What he says is overly orderly. The rhythms and rhetoric by which he connects any contraries, moral or otherwise, are too smooth. Look at the complex phonetic equation that gives a sound of decorousness to the moral indecorum of ‘With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage.’ Claudius uses syntactical and rhetorical devices for equation by balance—as one would a particularly heavy and greasy cosmetic—to smooth over any inconsistencies whatsoever. Even his incidental diction is of joining: ‘jointress,’ ‘disjoint,’ ‘Colleaguèd’ (I.ii.9, 20, 21). The excessively lubricated rhetoric by which Claudius makes unnatural connections between moral contraries is as gross and sweaty as the incestuous marriage itself. The audience has double and contrary responses to Claudius, the unifier of contraries.”
11 Leviticus 20.21“‘If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.’”
12 The PointSo here’s a new king who is excessively concerned with creating the appearance of propriety. Right?
13 “This heavy-headed revel” (1.4.17) The king doth wake tonight and takes his rouse [carouses], Keeps wassail [carousal], and the swaggering upspring [wild German dance] reels [dances]; And as he drains his drafts of Rhenish down, The kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out The triumph of his pledge [his feat in draining the wine in a single draft]. ( ) (Notes borrowed from Bevington’s anthology.)
14 The GhostParts of the next section of this presentation reflect insights in Sister Miriam Joseph’s “Discerning the Ghost in Hamlet” (PMLA 76 : ).
15 Who or what is the ghost? #4: Is it a delusion? See 1.1.27. #5: Has it returned for the sort of reasons that one would expect? See ff.#6: Is it an evil spirit (a devil or damned soul)? See#7: What does the ghost say about himself? See ff. (Suggested answers appear on the next slide.)
16 What the ghost says about himself: He is the ghost of Hamlet’s father.He is enduring temporary punishment in Purgatory for his sins in life:Foul crimes, line 13Imperfections, line 80He is a saved soul, but he is in Purgatory because he died in his sleep without the three sacraments (line 77):Unhouseled: communionDisappointed: confession/penanceUnaneled: extreme unction/last rites
17 What is the ghost’s moral character? “Taint not thy mind nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught” (lines 86-87).Cf : “O, step between her and her fighting soul!”“Nuke ’em all, and let God sort ’em out”? Hardly.Yet this apparently saved soul wants revenge.
18 Does Hamlet believe the ghost? #8: Initially, maybe. See St. Patrick, as the note says, is “the keeper of Purgatory and patron saint of all blunders and confusion.”Later, no. What seems certain about the ghost at night does not seem so certain in daylight. Hamlet wants more than spectral evidence.#9: For the root of his uncertainty, seeSee also Browne (next slide).
19 More on the Ghost“…those apparitions and ghosts of departed persons are not the wandering souls of men, but the unquiet walks of Devils, prompting and suggesting us unto mischief, blood and villainy, instilling and stealing into our hearts that the blessed spirits are not at rest in their graves but wander solicitous of the affairs of the world.” --Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
20 Biblical MaterialLeviticus 19.31: “‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists [in another translation: wizards]; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.’”Leviticus 20.6: “‘As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists [wizards], to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.’”Leviticus 20.27: “‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist [wizard] among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’”
21 POINT There is a theological context for Hamlet’s hesitation. Hamlet does not kill Claudius right away because of his uncertainty about the king’s guilt. “Who’s there?” (1.1.1) even sets this up to be a play about uncertainty, the difficulty of knowing.
22 Hamlet must look elsewhere for proof: Ghost: Inconclusive.The play within the play in 3.2:Hamlet initially claims that he’ll believe the ghost because of the king’s reaction (#10, ).But Hamlet’s uncertainty is unfounded: the playlet delivers a DEATH THREAT: the player king is killed by his NEPHEW, not his brother.Therefore, calling for lights proves only that Hamlet has scared his uncle, not that the king killed his brother.Therefore, Hamlet needs more proof: #11, ff., esp. lines & (see next slide).
23 Another Possiblity: Claudius’s Failed Attempt To Pray #11, ff.: Claudius admits his guilt, but Hamlet does not hear him (too far away), much less KILL him (thinks Claudius would go to heaven rather than hell).Line 56: “May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?” Forgiveness necessitates giving up queen and throne.Hamlet hesitates because of the Christian context of his actions (lines 80ff.); therefore, he is not a conventional revenge figure.
24 The “Closet” Scene: 3.4Hamlet believes that Claudius is a murderer, and he says so to his mother. She sees her soul as being marked with “black and grainèd spots” (line 92), but the detail may not indicate that she is complicit in the murder.Therefore, their conversation does not provide the evidence that he needs.#12, : She feels guilty—but about what? Maybe just incest. Her guilt, therefore, does not necessarily mean that she knows about the murder.
25 CardsReminder to turn your cards back in.Summary on next slide.
26 Summary Succession: the kingship is elective. The king is sensitive to appearances: that is why he addresses what is on everyone’s mind, then turns their attention to foreign affairs.The ghost is probably Hamlet’s father’s spirit from Purgatory: a saved soul, not a delusion, demon, or damned soul.Hamlet’s major problem is uncertainty:The ghost, the playlet, and the closet scene do not suffice as proof of the king’s guilt.Claudius’s attempt to pray is the sort of evidence that Hamlet needs, but he does not hear it END
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