Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hamlet Act Four

1. By Monday class time, read and take notes on 4.1 through 4.4.33. (This is about seven pages.)
Pay particular attention to Hamlet's punning wit in response to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (4.2) and Claudius (4.3). What threads and themes are present in Hamlet's word play?
2. By Monday class time, read the final soliloquy. Use the notes here and in your book. Answer the three questions in Google Doc labelled appropriately and shared with me. (No soliloquy performance comparison this time.)

Hamlet Soliloquy 4.4

How all occasions do inform against me, (35)
And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not (40)
That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on the event,
A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom (45)
And ever three parts coward, I do not know
Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do;'
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do't. Examples gross as earth exhort me:
Witness this army of such mass and charge (50)
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puff'd
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death and danger dare, (55)
Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake
. How stand I then,
That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd, (60)
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep? while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot (65)
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain?
 O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

[Source: http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/allinform.htm  Amanda Mabillard, B.A. (Honors) is a freelance writer specializing in Shakespeare, Renaissance political theory, theatre history, comparative literary history, and linguistic topics in Renaissance literature.]

inform against ] Accuse me.
market ] Employment.
discourse ] The power of reason. God gave human beings the ability to reflect on life's events.
Looking before and after ] Our intelligence allows us to analyze past experiences and make rational judgments about the future.
fust ] Grow mouldy. Hamlet is saying that God did not give us the power of reason for it to go unused.
Bestial oblivion ] The forgetfulness of an animal. Our capability to remember separates mankind from other animals or "beasts". But Hamlet forgetting Claudius's deeds is clearly not why he delays the murder.
craven scruple ] Cowardly feelings.
of ] From.
event ] Outcome.
quarter'd ] Meticulously analyzed (literally, divided into four).
Sith ] Since.
gross ] Obvious.
mass and charge ] Size and cost. Hamlet is referring to the army led by Fortinbras, prince of Norway. Hamlet wishes he had Fortinbras's courage.
puff'd ] Inflated.
Makes mouths at the invisible event ] Shows contempt for (or cares not about) the uncertain outcome of battle.
Rightly to be great...stake ] Truly great men refrain from fighting over insignificant things, but they will fight without hesitation over something trivial when their honour is at risk. "True nobility of soul is to restrain one's self unless there is a great cause for resentment, but nobly to recognize even a trifle as such as cause when honour is involved" (Kittredge 121). Ironically, "Hamlet never learns from the Captain or attempts to clarify what the specific issue of honor is that motivates the Prince of Norway. In fact, there is none, for the play has made it clear that Fortinbras's uncle, after discovering and stopping his nephew's secret and illegal revenge campaign against Claudius, encouraged him to use newly levied forces to fight in Poland...Since no issue of honor is to be found in Fortinbras's cause, Hamlet, through his excessive desire to emulate the Norwegian leader, ironically calls into question whether there is any honour in his own cause" (Newell 143). [Mr. Cook adds: or, perhaps, Hamlet’s mind has once again moved from the particular (Fortinbras and his army) to the abstract (consideration of what defines greatness). It seems Fortinbras and his army are not important in and of themselves but in how they “inform against” (indict, critique, etc.) Hamlet’s inaction.]
twenty thousand men ] In line 25, it was 20000 ducats and only 2000 men. It is undecided whether this confusion is Hamlet's or Shakespeare's.
blood ] Passions.
trick of fame ] Trifle of reputation. But is not Hamlet jealous of Fortinbras and his ability to fight in defense of his honour? "Fortinbras is enticed by a dream, and thousands must die for it. Hamlet's common sense about the absurdity of Fortinbras's venture shows the pointlessness of his envy" (Edwards 193).
Whereon...slain ] The cause is not significant enough to consume the thousands of men fighting over it, and the tombs and coffins are not plentiful enough to hold those who are killed (continent = container).

Use first name and last initial. Number each of your responses.
1.        (Make connections!) In a well-developed paragraph compare what Hamlet says in lines 36-49 of this soliloquy to what he says in lines 91-96 of his “To be or not to be” soliloquy (below). Begin your paragraph with a bold, insightful assertion comparing the two soliloquies. Develop the assertion by citing specific language from both soliloquies. End by reaffirming your bold insight.

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry, (95)
And lose the name of action.—

2.        (Make connections!) In a well-developed paragraph compare this soliloquy with the “O What a rogue and peasant slave” (2.2.576) soliloquy. (Think about the role that Fortinbras plays in this speech and that the First Player plays in the earlier speech: “What would he do,  / Had he the motive and the cue for passion / That I have?”) Begin your paragraph with a bold, insightful assertion comparing the two soliloquies. Develop the assertion by citing specific language from both soliloquies. End by reaffirming your bold insight.

3.        (What’s your opinion?) Hamlet contrasts his own cowardly thought with the actions of Fortinbras. Do you think Fortinbras is a good role model for Hamlet? In other words, should Hamlet be more like Fortinbras or not? Explain your answer in a paragraph. Use evidence from the play and this soliloquy to develop your answer. (Like Hamlet, you might be able to argue “yes” in someways and “no” in others.) Begin by asserting your position. Develop your position. Cite and explain specific evidence from this soliloquy and from elsewhere in the text to support your position.

4. Read and take notes on 4.5 through 4.7 (16 pages). Due by Wednesday class time. 
In addition to your motif/thread* notes and your general notes (on plot, characterization, and themes) pay particular attention to how Shakespeare uses songs and flower imagery to convey Ophelia's response to trauma and tragedy. You'll need this understanding for the next assignment. Also, of interest is how Laertes responds to his father's death. Understand how Laertes is a foil for Hamlet. 

*(You likely have more than a dozen instances of the motif/thread now. You'll need these threads after act five.)
5. Ophelia Speaks 
Due by Thursday class time. Share a Google Doc labelled "Ophelia Speaks".
Click here to view Ophelia performances. (Scroll down.)
Click here to read some Ophelia speeches written by eleventh grade honors students in 2009-2012. (The Ophelia speeches are mixed in with blog posts about threads/motifs.)

A possible process
If you get stuck try first writing what you would say if you were in Ophelia situation. (You wrote about her situation in class today so consult that.)
Then, find places where you could add flower imagery and references to songs (songs as a metaphor, song lyrics from 4.5, other songs of the time period or later).
Then, prepare for writing in iambic pentameter by reading a page of poetry in Hamlet without worrying about the meaning. Consult the note below that explains iambic pentameter. Then, look at the example. Try it yourself. (At worst you should be able to write two lines with ten syllables.)
Finally, check to make sure you have completed all of the directions.

Role: You are a playwright commissioned by a theatrical troupe to create a soliloquy (or monologue or letter written by Ophelia) that will be inserted into Hamlet.

Audience: Readers and viewers of Hamlet who want to understand Ophelia more deeply.

Format:       1. a soliloquy (or monologue)

                   2. 14+ lines*

3. The lines conclude with a rhyming couplet in iambic pentameter. (*The other 12 or more lines may be in prose or in iambic pentameter# [blank verse).)

4. Try to use Elizabethan language (diction and syntax), or use language that does not stand out as obviously modern.

5. State where in the play you would insert the soliloquy (or monologue). (Would you create a 4.8? Would you place it somewhere in 4.5? Where? Be precise: act, scene, line. You could even, I suppose, create a 4.8 in which she returns as a ghost; or perhaps someone finds a letter she has written or a diary.)

6. Refer to song lyrics and flower imagery (from 4.5).

7. Show Ophelia’s mind puzzling out and wrestling with her dramatic situation and inner consciousness (just as Hamlet does in his soliloquies).

Topic: What Ophelia is thinking and feeling at the moment in the play into which you decide to insert her soliloquy?

# Much of Hamlet is written in blank verse meaning most lines do not rhyme but they do follow a particularmeter (a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables). The meter is called iambic pentameter. “Iambic” means unstressed syllables are followed by stressed syllables: “And makes us rather bear those ills we have”.Pentameter means there are five iambs.

“…And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
than fly to others that we know not of…”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hamlet Act Three

1. Write an explication of Hamlet's 3.1 soliloquy/monologue. Label this "3.1 Soliloquy Explication" and share your Google Doc with me. You explanation must work through the soliloquy sentence by sentence, explaining not only the what Hamlet is saying but also analyzing how Hamlet says it. Consider what is significant about and what is suggested by specific figurative imagery, sentence structures, shifts in focus, pronouns, variations in rhythm, etc. Also, consider particulars in this soliloquy/monologue in relation to the rest of the play. Due by class time on Friday.

Note: 3.1 Make sure that your explication of the "to be or not to be" speech analyzes both what each sentence means and how each sentence conveys that meaning with rhetorical strategies. Make sure your explication does not incorporate interpretations borrowed from sources other than the notes provided to you. Uncited paraphrases of other people's analyses is plagiarism and will result in a zero, a call home, and notification of the assistant principal.
 To be, or not to be: that is the question (3.1.64-98).

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer (65)
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks (70)
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, (75)
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, (80)
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life, (85)
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of? (90)
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry, (95)
And lose the name of action.-- Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
NOTES: [Source: http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/tobeornot.htm  Amanda Mabillard, B.A. (Honors) is a freelance writer specializing in Shakespeare, Renaissance political theory, theatre history, comparative literary history, and linguistic topics in Renaissance literature.]
slings ] Some argue that "slings" is a misprint of the intended word, "stings". "The stings of fortune" was a common saying in the Renaissance. But in the context of the soliloquy, "slings" likely means "sling-shot" or "missile". This seems in keeping with the reference to "arrows" - both can do great harm.
outrageous fortune ] Fortune is "outrageous" in that it is brazenly defiant.
And by opposing end them ] If you cannot suffer the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" then you must end your troubles with suicide. [Mr. Cook’s note: other critics read this phrase more broadly.]
consummation ] Final settlement of all matters.
rub ] Impediment. The term comes from bowling, where the "rub" is any obstacle the pushes the ball off course.
shuffled off this mortal coil ] To separate from one's body (mortal coil = body).
respect ] Consideration.
of so long life ] So long-lived.
time ] Time = temporal life.
his quietus make ] Settle his own account.
bare bodkin ] A "mere dagger". Bodkin was a Renaissance term used to describe many different sharp instruments, but it makes the most sense here to assume Shakespeare means a dagger.
fardels ] Burdens.
No traveller returns ] Since Hamlet has already encountered his father's ghost, and thus proof of the afterlife, this line has raised much debate. There are four major current theories regarding this line: 1) Shakespeare made an egregious error and simply failed to reconcile the appearance of the ghost and Hamlet's belief that human beings do not return; 2) Hamlet has earlier revealed that he doubts the authenticity of the ghost and, therefore, he does not believe his father has truly returned; 3) Hamlet is referring only to human beings returning in the flesh and not as mere shadows of their former selves; 4) the entire soliloquy is misplaced and rightfully belongs before Hamlet has met his father's ghost. In my estimation, theory #4 seems the most plausible.
bourn ] Limit or boundary.
native hue of resolution ] Natural. Here Hamlet refers to the "natural color of courage".
pale cast of thought ] Sickly tinge of contemplation.
great pitch and moment ] Of momentous significance. The "pitch" was the name given to the highest point in a falcon's flight before it dives down to catch its prey.
With this regard their currents turn awry ] A reference to the sea and its tides: "Because of their thoughts, their currents become unstable".
Soft you now ] "But hush!". Hamlet hears Ophelia begin to pray and he must cut short his private ponderances.
Nymph ] See commentary below.
orisons ] Prayers.

2. Write a shuttle comparison of two performances of Hamlet's 3.1 soliloquy/monologue. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Remember to begin with a bold insight about meaningful similarities and/or differences. Then, develop that insight by explaining very specific acting and directing choices. Due by class time on Monday.

First clip: 3.1 monologue, directed by Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet played by Kenneth Branagh (1996)
[(1) Here the monologue is in context as it appears in the second quarto and first folio. (2) I know what you're going to ask. The answer is one-way mirror.]

Second clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Hamlet played by Mel Gibson (1990)
[Here the soliloquy is lifted out of its context in 3.1 and delivered on its own. Hamlet walks down into the catacombs where his father and others are buried.]

Third clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Michael Almereyda, Hamlet played by Ethan Hawke (2000)
[Here again the soliloquy is lifted out of its context in 3.1 and delivered on its own, but this time Hamlet is in a Blockbuster video store. Why?, you ask. Because in this version Hamlet creates the Mousetrap by editing clips of film into a montage depicting something like the murder of his father. He's in Blockbuster looking for film clips to include in his montage.]

Fourth clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Gregory Doran, Hamlet played by David Tennant (2009)
[Here the monologue is in context again. I chose an edit of this speech that shows a little bit of the context at the beginning and end of the speech.]

Fifth clip: 3.1 soliloquy, directed by Laurence Olivier, Hamlet played by Laurence Olivier (1948)
[Out of the 3.1. again but with suggestive water imagery that plays off of lines in the speech and elsewhere in the play.]

3. Pick one option (300+ word response)

Option #1 Write a shuttle comparison of two performances of "The Murder of Gonzago" ("the Mousetrap").  Remember to begin with a bold insight about meaningful similarities and/or differences. When comparing consider Hamlet's behavior, the play-within-the-play itself, and the reactions of Ophelia, Gertrude, and Claudius. Then, develop that insight by explaining very specific acting and directing choices. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Due by class time Tuesday.

Option #2. Write a mini-essay explaining in detail how director Michael Almereyda's "Mouse Trap" uses clips of film to express Hamlet's feelings about his mother and to attempt to "catch the conscience of the king." Then, evaluate how effectively the collaged film conveys the ideas expressed in Shakespeare's text. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Due by class time Tuesday.

Option #3. Write a mini-essay explaining how you would improve one of the versions (your choice) with very specific directorial and acting choices. Defend your choices. Explain exactly how your changes would improve the scene. Put this in the comments below. Use your first name and last initial please. Due by class time Tuesday.

First Clip: 3.2 "Murder of Gonzago," directed by Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet played by Kenneth Branagh, Ophelia played by Kate Winslet, Gertrude played by Julie Christie, Claudius played by Derek Jacobi (1996) [The full text is performed but in a Victorian rather than Elizabethan setting. Click here for more on the style of Branagh's Hamlet, here for more on Victorian theatre, here for more on the Victorian era.]

Second Clip: 3.2 "Murder of Gonzago," directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Hamlet played by Mel Gibson, Ophelia played by Helena Bonham Carter, Gertrude played by Glenn Close, Claudius played by Alan Bates (1990)
[This clip begins with Hamlet's line "You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife" (3.2.289), but instead of this line causing the King to rise, Zeffirelli has the players enact a partial version of the dumb show here. Prior to the beginning of this clip the Player King and the Player Queen--both played by men in the Elizabethan tradition--have exchanged a heavily cut version of the lines written for the occasion by Hamlet. Hamlet has also already spoken to Ophelia ("May I lie my head upon your lap") and Gertrude ("Madam, how like you this play?"). His manner, prior to the clip, is strangely playful (or playfully strange) and visibly anxious, perhaps an adult indulging in adolescent childishness.]

Third Clip: 3.2 "Mouse Trap," abridged, is directed by Michael Almereyda. Ethan Hawke plays Hamlet, Julia Stiles plays Ophelia, Diana Venora plays Gertrude, Kyle MacLachlan plays Claudius. (2000)
[Almereyda sets his Hamlet in mid-1990s Manhattan. Prior to this scene we have watched Hamlet visiting Blockbuster Video and editing film into a collage. Prior to the clip when Hamlet says "May I lie my head upon your lap" Ophelia pushes him away.] 

Fourth Clip / Fourth Clip part 2: 3.2 "Murder of Gonzago, abridged, is directed by Gregory Doran. David Tennant plays Hamlet, Mariah Gale plays Ophelia, Penny Downie plays Gertrude, and Patrick Steward plays Claudius. (2009)
[If you want to skip Hamlet's lecture on acting and his bromantic speech to Horatio, start 3:30 or so into the first clip. The "Murder of Gonzago" ends about 3:30 into the second clip. Doran seems to set the film in a chimerical present day monarchy, mixing modern clothing with pre-modern decor. The Player King and Player Queen's speeches are cut to the essential lines but the scene is otherwise more or less intact.]     

4. Read and take notes on 3.2.297 (the end of the play) through 3.3 for class on Monday. (That's about eight pages.) (When reading 3.3 think of dramatic irony; think of the relationship between thought and action.) Answer the following questions in your Hamlet notes.
3.2 After Claudius ends The Murder of Gonzago how does Hamlet use wit to critique Rosencrantz and Guildenstern then Polonius?
3.3 How does Shakespeare use dramatic irony in this scene to dramatize Hamlet's claim that "conscience does make cowards of us all/And thus the native hue of resolution/is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought"? (In other words, how does the dramatic irony in this scene show how the impulse to act can be weakened by thought?)

5. Now read 3.4 and answer the following questions in your Hamlet notes.
How does William Shakespeare use dramatic irony early in the scene? How is this a turning point in the play?
How does Shakespeare use specific figurative imagery to characterize Hamlet's feelings toward his mother and her feelings toward Hamlet?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hamlet Act Two

Hamlet’s second soliloquy (2.2)
Now I am alone. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! (555)
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, (560)
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her?
What would he do, (565)
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed (570)
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life (575)
A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this? (580)
'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites (585)
With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
O, vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd, (590)
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion!
Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! I have heard (595)
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak (600)
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen (605)
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds (610)
More relative than this: the play 's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
rogue ] Useless vagrant.
peasant ] A person of little integrity (see The Taming of the Shrew 4.1.113).
player...Hecuba ] This passage is often very difficult for students, and standard annotations leave them wanting. So it is best paraphrased:
Is it not horribly unfair that this actor, pretending to feel great passion, could, based on what he has conceived in his own mind, force his own soul to believe the part that he is playing, so much so that all the powers of his body adapt themselves to suit his acting needs, so that he grows agitated ("distraction in's aspect"), weeps, and turns pale ("wann'd")? And why does he carry on so? Why does he pretend until he truly makes himself weep? For Hecuba! But why? What are they to each other?
Hamlet wishes he could arouse his passions so.
Hecuba ] Trojan queen and heroine of classical mythology. Earlier in 2.2 Hamlet asks the First Player to recite a monologue retelling Hecuba's response to the death of her husband, King Priam. The Player tells us that Hecuba's grief was profound and "Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven/And passion in the gods" (505-6). The contrast between Gertrude and Hecuba should be noted. To Hamlet, Hecuba has responded appropriately to her husband's death, while Gertrude has not.
cue for passion ] The reason for strong feelings.
Make mad the guilty ] "By his description of the crime he would drive those spectators mad who had any such sin on their conscience, and would horrify even the innocent" (Kittredge 68),
amaze ] Plunge into confusion.
muddy-mettled ] Dull-spirited.
peak ] Moping about; languishing, unable to act.
John-a-dreams ] A nickname for a dreamer.
unpregnant ] "Pregnant" here does not mean "with child", but rather, quick or ready. Thus to be "unpregnant" is to be unable to act quickly.
pate ] Head.
swounds ] God's wounds.
pigeon-liver'd ] In the Renaissance, the gentle disposition of the Dove was explained by the argument that it had no gall and thus no capacity to feel resentment or to seek revenge. The liver also was seen as the body's storehouse for courage.
region kites ] The birds of prey in the region, circling in the sky, waiting to feed. If Hamlet were not "pigeon-liver'd" (583) he would have long ago fed Claudius to the hawks.
kindless ] Unnatural.
drab ] A whore.
scullion ] A kitchen helper, either man or woman but usually a woman. It was a term used to show contempt. One should note that in the second quarto, scullion was actually "stallyon", which means a male whore. Scholars are still undecided on the matter, but scullion is the more generally accepted of the two.
proclaim'd their malefactions ] Announced their evil deeds.
blench ] Flinch.
Source: http://shakespeare.about.com/library/weekly/aa061500b.htm
2.2 Soliloquy Explication (Due by class time on Monday)
 In the comment box write an explication (300+ words) of this soliloquy (300+ words). An explications is not a paraphrase or a summary, but explains and explores a text thoroughly. You will explain what Hamlet is saying and how he says it. (What the text says and what it does.)
When explaining “what Hamlet is saying,” remember to consider the soliloquy sentence by sentence (not line by line and not by summarizing). Remember that the soliloquy is a tool that Shakespeare uses to show Hamlet’s mind at work. In addition to asking yourself "what is Hamlet saying?," ask yourself “what does this reveal about Hamlet?” and “how does what he is saying fit into the work as a whole (especially the development of themes)?” Deal with the surface and the depths.)
When explaining “how he says it,” pay close attention to the language (particular word choices, sentence structures, etc.) and imagery (including figurative language, such as metaphors). Ask yourself “what does the language itself reveal about Hamlet?"
At the beginning of your comment write your first name and the first initial of your last name. Then write "2.2 Soliloquy Explication"    Oops! I'd meant to have you share this with me in a Google Doc labelled "first name last initial 2.2 Soliloquy".

2.2 Soliloquy Performance "Shuttle" Comparison (Due by class time on Tuesday)
In the comment box address the following prompt: compare and contrast how two versions of the soliloquy use different strategies to convey the meaning of the soliloquy. Pay close attention to choices made the actors and directors. Take notes. Then, interpret the significance of those choices. I'm looking forward to reading these because of how passionate and thoughtful you were about your act one scene two preferences.
How to write a shuttle comparison...
Start your response with a bold, nuanced assertion, something like "Not only does Michael Almereyda's version of the soliloquy use a distractingly non-traditional setting, it also fails to convey the nuances of the speech captured by Gregory Doran's version, through phrasing, facial expressions, gestures, movement, lighting, and prompts." Or, "Kenneth Branagh's version of the soliloquy captures Hamlet's erratic anger and crafty intelligence whereas Franco Zeffirelli's version emphasizes the depths of his madness."
Then, move back and forth through the two soliloquies from beginning to end developing specific details to support your bold, nuanced insight.
At the beginning of your comment write your first name and the first initial of your last name. Then write "2.2 Soliloquy Performance Comparison".

First clip: 2.2 soliloquy, directed by Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet played by Kenneth Branagh (1996)
Second clip: 2.2 soliloquy, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Hamlet played by Mel Gibson (1990)
Third clip: 2.2 soliloquy, directed by Michael Almereyda, Hamlet played by Ethan Hawke (2000)
Fourth clip: 2.2 soliloquy, directed by Gregory Doran, Hamlet played by David Tennant (2009)
Fifth clip: 2.2 soliloquy, directed by Laurence Olivier, Hamlet played by Laurence Olivier (1948)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hamlet Act One

1. Due Thursday by class time. Read and take notes on characters, plot, and theme in the rest of act one. (For theme think about the questions: How do people respond to wrongdoing, corruption? How do people respond to traumatic loss and mortality? How do people respond to uncertainty, mystery, and doubt?) These notes will be extremely important as the play progresses.

You will need these notes to participate in class on Thursday.
2. Due Thursday by class time. Read and take notes on your conceptual or visual thread. Every time it appears--or you think maybe it appears--write down the act, scene, and line number. You'll need these notes as we proceed through the play.

You will need these notes to participate in class on Thursday.

3. Due Friday by class time. Re-read and answer analytical questions about the act one scene two (1.2) soliloquy that Hamlet gives after Claudius speech. (On page 28 and 30 of your book you'll find helpful notes on this soliloquy. I've put additional notes from About.com below, too. Remember that the notes are there to aid your analysis and should not replace your own critical reading, thinking, and writing.)

Share your responses with me in a Google Doc.

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt (1.2.131-61).

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, (135)
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: (140)
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, (145)
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 follow'd my poor father's body, (150)
Like Niobe, all tears: -- why she, even she --
O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month: (155)
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good: (160)
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.

too too ] The duplication of "too" intensifies Hamlet's feelings of regret. Repetition of this kind was a popular literary device in the Renaissance.
solid ] Many scholars ask whether Shakespeare intended "solid" to be actually "sallied", a form of the word "sullied". The second quarto of Hamlet contains "sallied", but the First Folio prints it as "solid". Modern editors have been quite divided on the issue. Editors of The Arden Shakespeare have chosen to use "sullied", while editors of The New Cambridge Shakespeare have decided upon "solid". The reasoning for the use of "solid" is fairly evident, as it logically corresponds to "would melt" (131). However, there are good arguments to support the claim that Shakespeare did mean "sullied". With "sullied" we have the "suggestion of contamination" (Jenkins 437), which is apparent throughout the soliloquy. Some critics stress "sullied" as the "contrast to 'self-slaughter' the resolving of the baser element into the higher, whereby Hamlet might return from melancholy to normal health, or, if to become dew is to die, then from 'misery' to 'felicity'. But there is surely no thought here of being restored to health or happiness, only of being free of the 'flesh' whether through its own deliquescence or through suicide." (Jenkns 187).
canon ] divine law; the Church regards "suicide" or "self-slaughter" forbidden by the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill".
flat ] Spiritless.
unweeded garden ] A well-tended garden was symbolic of harmony and normalcy.
in nature/Possess it merely ] Although Hamlet accepts weeds as a natural part of the garden (and more generally a natural part of life), he feels that the weeds have grown out of control and now possess nature entirely (merely = entirely).
Hyperion ] {hy-peer'-ee-uhn} One of the Titans and the father of Helios, the sun-god.
Satyr ] {say'-tur} A grotesque creature, half-man and half-goat, symbolic of sexual promiscuity. Hamlet's reference to his dead father as Hyperion and to his uncle Claudius as a satyr illustrates Hamlet's contempt for Claudius. His father is godlike while his uncle is bestial.
beteem ] Permit. In anguish, Hamlet remembers the way his father would treat Gertrude with such gentleness and care. His father would not permit the wind to "visit her face too roughly".
ere ] Before.
Niobe ] {ny'-oh-bee} Symbolic of a mother's grief. Niobe, Queen of Thebes, boasted that her fourteen children were more lovely than Diana and Apollo, the children of Latona (Leto). Because of her arrogance, Niobe's children were slain by Latona's children, and Zeus turned Niobe to stone - yet still her tears flowed from the rock.
a beast, that wants discourse of reason ] Hamlet believes that even a creature incapable of speech would have mourned longer than Gertrude mourned for Hamlet's father (here wants=lacks). "The faculty of reason was traditionally recognized as the crucial difference between man and the beasts. This lends further significance to the Hyperion-Satyr comparison above. It was through his reason that man could perceive the relation of cause and effect and thus connect past with future, whereas the beast, precisely because it lacks reason, must live largely in the present moment. Hence the axiom that its mourning would be brief." (Jenkins 438).
Hercules ] {hur'-kyoo-leez} A Greek hero renowned for his super-human tasks. Having a father so strong and noble intensifies Hamlet’s feelings of inadequacy.
unrighteous tears ] See commentary below.
flushing ] Flushing refers to the redness in Gertrude's eyes from crying. She did not wait until the redness disappeared from her eyes before she married Claudius.
galled eyes ] Irritated and inflamed eyes.
dexterity ] One could take "dexterity" in this context to mean either speed or nimbleness.
incestuous ] Even though Claudius and Gertrude are related only through marriage, the union between a woman and her husband's brother, even if the brother was deceased, was considered incest (see Leviticus 16:20), and was explicitly forbidden by the Catholic and Anglican religions.
But break, my heart ] Hamlet's heart is heavy because he must keep his anguish to himself. "The heart was thought to be kept in place by ligaments or tendons (the heart-strings) which might snap under the pressure of great emotion" (Edwards 91).

1.        Word choice in context. If you were hired as the editor of a new edition of Hamlet would you choose “solid” or “sullied”? Write a focused paragraph defending your answer.
2.        Analysis and Evaluation. Write a paragraph (or paragraphs) addressing the following questions. What is Hamlet’s attitude toward his own life? Why does he feel this way? How does the imagery in the soliloquy convey Hamlet’s attitude toward the world? Cite and explain textual evidence to support your answers. Also, given his circumstances is his attitude justified? Why or why not? If not what do you think his attitude should be? Dig below the surface. Have empathy. Put yourself in his shoes. Don’t just answer the questions address them in a cohesive paragraph (or paragraphs).
3.        Analysis and Evaluation. How does Hamlet feel about his mother? Why? In your paragraph, cite and explain at least two quotations from the speech to support your answer. Also, given what you know from the play is his attitude justified? Why or why not? If not what do you think his attitude should be? Dig below the surface. Have empathy. Put yourself in his shoes. Don’t just answer the questions address them in a cohesive paragraph (or paragraphs).
4.        Analysis and Evaluation. In a paragraph write about Hamlet’s attitudes towards his father and Claudius. In the paragraph you should explain the two contrasts Hamlet uses to show that his father (King Hamlet) is superior to King Claudius. (The notes will help you with these contrasts. Hint: Allusions help to reveal Hamlet’s attitude.) Also, given what you know from the play is his attitude justified? Why or why not? If not what do you think his attitude should be? Dig below the surface. Have empathy. Put yourself in his shoes. Don’t just answer the questions address them in a cohesive paragraph (or paragraphs).

4. Due Tuesday by class time. Go to the class of 2013's blog to watch five versions of this soliloquy. Then, write a response in which you rank the five performances from best to worst. To determine best and worst think not so much about whose voice you like or who is better looking. Think about which performances and which directorial choices best convey the richness and meaning of the language, which convey the dramatic situation.

To support your choices discuss specific acting and directing choices made in each scene. Students often make the mistake of not referring to specific details to support their opinions. Think about phrasing, facial expression, gestures, movements, staging, lighting, music, etc. Think about these choices in relation to specific phrases in the soliloquy. Try to convince me and try to convince your peers you're right.

Here is a resource to help you think about the soliloquy and possible ways of performing it.

Respond in the comment box below. Use your first name and last initial.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Getting started with Hamlet

Here's what we have done so far.
1. We've written what we would feel and do if we were in Hamlet's situation. (Hamlet's father has died. Hamlet's mother has remarried soon after the death. Hamlet's mother married his father's (her husband's) brother. Soon thereafter Hamlet's beloved is forbidden to see him. Then, Hamlet's friend (and a couple guards) tell him they have seen the ghost of his father several nights in a row. They invite Hamlet to see the ghost that night.)
2. We've written down our thoughts, feelings, experiences, and/or observations about the thread/motif we were assigned in class on Friday.
Zoe P, your motif is loyalty and betrayal.

Lauren, your motif is flora (flowers, plants).
Emily, your motif is fauna (animals).
Bethany, your motif is fortune and fate.

Here's what you'll do this weekend.
1. Read some of the introductory material at the beginning of the book: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Reading Shakespeare's Language, and An Introduction to This Text. (Don't worry about reading Shakespeare's Life, Shakespeare's Theater, and the Publication of Shakespeare's Plays unless those topics interest you.)
2. While reading write down ten (10) details that seem important to know about the play, the language, and the text. (Ten total not ten each.) We will share these details. Details from the introductory reading will be assessed as part of the test you take after reading and studying the play.
3. Read act one, scene one. Take notes. Note the appearance of your thread in particular. Be aware of how much you understand and how much is difficult. Use the summary at the beginning of the scene to help you. Use the notes on the left-hand page (verso) to help you too.