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HAMLET: Reforming the Role Or breaking free from the ties that bind…

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Presentation on theme: "HAMLET: Reforming the Role Or breaking free from the ties that bind…"— Presentation transcript:

1 HAMLET: Reforming the Role Or breaking free from the ties that bind…

2 Tragedy… Concerns itself with the degree to which our lives are not in our control Oedipus flees Corinth to prevent the oracle’s prophecy from coming true yet only succeeds in fulfilling it Macbeth’s fate is so intertwined with the weird sisters his decisions seem to run counter to his will Concerns itself with the degree to which our lives are not in our control Oedipus flees Corinth to prevent the oracle’s prophecy from coming true yet only succeeds in fulfilling it Macbeth’s fate is so intertwined with the weird sisters his decisions seem to run counter to his will

3 Consider Hamlet… The Player King states: “Our wills and fates do so contrary run/ that our devices still are overthrown; /Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own(III.ii ) Perhaps these are the lines Hamlet inserts? The Player King states: “Our wills and fates do so contrary run/ that our devices still are overthrown; /Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own(III.ii ) Perhaps these are the lines Hamlet inserts?

4 The play is concerned with the limits imposed on the mortal will… Consider this theme and look to the text for evidence…language of being bound or tethered, plot events that deal with imposing restrictions on freedom, even references to playing, drama as a form of restriction

5 Hamlet is bound by many forces. He is, as Laertes and Polonious, bound by his birth, his duty as prince and future king. His noble birth restricts his choice, “his will is not his own.”

6 Claudius and Gertrude ask/restrict him to Denmark upon Hamlet’s request to return to Wittenberg (compare to Laertes’ freedom) Both Laertes and Polonious, in speaking to Ophelia, Hamlet’s choice for love interest, speak of his lack of freedom - He is “tethered” and may not walk as freely as others Claudius and Gertrude ask/restrict him to Denmark upon Hamlet’s request to return to Wittenberg (compare to Laertes’ freedom) Both Laertes and Polonious, in speaking to Ophelia, Hamlet’s choice for love interest, speak of his lack of freedom - He is “tethered” and may not walk as freely as others

7 The ghost scene immediately follows in which Hamlet is “bound” to revenge his father’s murder. The ghost even follows Hamlet through the forest, crying “Swear” effectively sealing Hamlet to the act of revenge. Hamlet can not even take his own life as he is bound by Christian law and the threat of the afterlife, to which he is privy through the ghost of his father, restricts his actions The ghost scene immediately follows in which Hamlet is “bound” to revenge his father’s murder. The ghost even follows Hamlet through the forest, crying “Swear” effectively sealing Hamlet to the act of revenge. Hamlet can not even take his own life as he is bound by Christian law and the threat of the afterlife, to which he is privy through the ghost of his father, restricts his actions

8 Hamlet cannot “shuffle” off his mortal coil OR the spirit and his “dread command”.

9 Here is one central conflict of the play… Hamlet is, throughout the text, obsessed with freedom He wants to control his own fate Control his self He wants not to be “passion’s slave” or a “pipe on Fortune’s finger” Is he an existentialist??? Hamlet is, throughout the text, obsessed with freedom He wants to control his own fate Control his self He wants not to be “passion’s slave” or a “pipe on Fortune’s finger” Is he an existentialist???

10 This theme of controlling one’s fate is played out in the conflict between Hamlet and Claudius Claudius attempts to control Hamlet through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Hamlet attempts to control Claudius through the play WHO SUCCEEDS? Claudius attempts to control Hamlet through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Hamlet attempts to control Claudius through the play WHO SUCCEEDS?

11 Note the scene directly following the play… King’s reaction (passionate….out of control) The pipe scene with R and G The cloud game with Polonious King’s reaction (passionate….out of control) The pipe scene with R and G The cloud game with Polonious

12 Hamlet contemptuously plays those around him in response to their feeble attempts to play him

13 Hamlet, in keeping with his compulsion to be free, to determine his own fate, hates and is cruel to those who are controlled by others

14 Ophelia “get thee to a nunnery” his response to her changes once he realizes her betrayal - “where is your father” His cruelty to her during the performance “get thee to a nunnery” his response to her changes once he realizes her betrayal - “where is your father” His cruelty to her during the performance

15 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are pawns of the king and therefore invoke Hamlet’s ire… “I will delve one yard below and blow them to the moon…” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sent to their deaths by Hamlet “I will delve one yard below and blow them to the moon…” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sent to their deaths by Hamlet

16 Polonious brings upon himself Hamlet’s cruel treatment because of his attempts to control others and his fawning to Claudius His various verbal traps for Polonious - grow old like a crab, Jeptha, the cloud is like a weasel How can you work Hamlet’s murder of Polonious into this claim His various verbal traps for Polonious - grow old like a crab, Jeptha, the cloud is like a weasel How can you work Hamlet’s murder of Polonious into this claim

17 Hamlet is cruel to his mother as he sees her as being manipulated by Claudius and passion Frailty thy name is woman Let him not tempt you to bed with a pair of retchy kisses… Frailty thy name is woman Let him not tempt you to bed with a pair of retchy kisses…

18 So…Hamlet is bound by many forces in the play; he also scorns others whom he sees as pawns or slaves to others. Taken together it is apparent that Hamlet values freedom, seeks it for himself, and is horribly frustrated by his own lack of freedom.

19 Hamlet is aware that he too is a pawn, a slave Bound to revenge by the ghost Bound as an actor to the classic revenge hero Bound by the play itself Bound to revenge by the ghost Bound as an actor to the classic revenge hero Bound by the play itself

20 He shows his awareness of his confinement and attempts to fight against it to break free.

21 His delay in revenging his father’s murder… Textual evidence:

22 Hamlet discovers that his life is a poor play (revenge tragedy)and he is confined to play a part that offends his self worth

23 He struggles with how to play his revenge He disdains the stereotypical revenge hero with his passionate rants and his predictable behavior. HE does not want to play any role, but this role is degrading and vulgar which makes the constraint that much worse.

24 Consider how Laertes functions as a “foil” for Hamlet in terms of the revenge hero. Find textual evidence for this claim..

25 His attempts to direct this play Textual evidence

26 Hamlet desires to be free, to act according to his own choice and desires. However, he is “tethered” by many forces and people in the play.

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28 What is Hamlet’s final statement with regard to free will…what does the play ultimately say about free will…


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