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…”

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