Hamlet Review

Hamlet Review 2013
What have we learned about how language works in literature, about Elizabethan theatre, about Shakespeare’s writing, and about Hamlet itself?

How does the play illustrate the complexity and variety of human responses to corrupt acts, traumatic loss, and the realization of human mortality (including one’s own)? What does the play suggest about these responses?
I.                     Hamlet’s sound
A.      _______________ _______________ provide memorable closure and summation
1.     “The time is out of joint: O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right.” (1.5)
2.   “The play’s the thing  / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” (2.2)
B.       _______________ _______________ / _______________ _________________________
1.        provides structure, unity
2.        provides potential for emphasis by way of variation: “to be or not to be; that is the question.”
II.                   Hamlet’s language
A.      Pun
1.        5.1 “lie”: lie down & tell lies (Gravedigger and Hamlet)
2.        4.7 “too much of water”:  tears & drowning (Laertes)
3.    4.3 "At supper...Not where he eats but where he is eaten" (Hamlet to Claudius about Polonius)
B.       Double entendre
      1. "her privates we" (Guildenstern 2.2)
      2. Hamlet talking to Ophelia during the Murder of Gonzago. (3.2)
C.    Paradox
        “more than kin and less than kind” (1.2) [This is also an aside.]
D.    Oxymoron
        "defeated joy" "mirth in funeral...dirge in marriage" (Claudius 1.2)
D.       Metaphors:
       "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" (Hamlet 3.1)
E.    Hyperbole
        "I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers/Could not with all their quality of love/Make up my sum." (Hamlet 5.1)
F.    Analogy
       "The harlot's cheek beautied with plast'ring art/Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it/Than is my deed to my most painted word." (Claudius 3.1) [This is also an aside.]
G. Other figurative language
      king > worm > fish > beggar can be seen as a figurative way inverting the Elizabethan social structure (Hamlet 4.3)
G.     Syntax
     1. inverted sentence: “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I.” (Hamlet 2.2)
     2. periodic (delayed) sentence: “Within a month, / Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears / Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, / She married.” (Hamlet 1.2)

     3. interrupted sentence: "But two months dead--nay, not so much not two." "Any yet, within a month/(Let me not think on't; frailty, thy name is woman!) (Hamlet 1.2)
III.                 Hamlet as theatre
A.      Acting Choices (interpretations)
1.        Laurence Olivier (director and Hamlet)
2.    Franco Zeffirelli (director), Mel Gibson (Hamlet)
3.    Kenneth Branagh (director and Hamlet)
4.    Michael Almereyda (director), Ethan Hawke (Hamlet)
5.    Gregory Doran (director), David Tennant (Hamlet)
B.       Visual Choices (interpretations)
Ex. “to be or not to be”
1.       Olivier's spiral stairs, cliff, crashing waves, bodkin = confusion, conflict, drama
2.        Zefferelli’s catacombs= death “the undiscovered country”
3.        Branagh’s mirror, bodkin= deceit, also outward action v. self-directed action
4.    Almereyda’s Blockbuster= “Action” / “Go Home Happy” (irony)
5.    Tennant's eyes=looked at, looking at; relationship with audience
IV.           Hamlet’s patterns
A.      Characters
1.        Hamlet’s foils (contrasting characters):
       a. sons responding to the deaths of fathers
 ____________________      ____________________
        b.  Another similarity and contrast: Hamlet (acts mad, wishes to die), Ophelia (is mad, allows herself to do die)
3.      Hamlet's age 
       a. Is Hamlet's age (revealed in 5.1) symbolic of his growing maturity?
       b. Is it a reflection of Richard Burbage's age? (Burbage was the star actor in Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's acting company. He would have been thirty around the time Hamlet was first performed.)
4.        Who “spies”? How?
                   5.   Who follows and obeys? Who flatters authority (kisses up to those in power)?
B.       Plot*
1.        Dramatic Irony (3.3)
a.        Hamlet believes ____________________ is confessing for his sins and so does not kill him.
b.       The reader/audience knows that ____________________ has failed to confess.
c.        Mel Gibson claims that Hamlet’s failure to kill ____________________ here triggers all the other deaths in the play (triggers the tragedy as such).
2.        Fitting deaths
a.        ____________________ dies spying (3.4)
b.       ____________________ dies passively (& in water) (4.7)
c.        ____________________ dies drinking to Hamlet (Perhaps her death triggers Hamlet to action vs. Claudius.) (5.2)
d.       ____________________ (“I am justly killed by my own treachery.”) (5.2)
e.        ____________________ (by sword and drink) (5.2)
f.         ____________________ (“the rest is silence”: Does Shakespeare intend this as a tragic and ironic contrast with Hamlet’s constant speaking) (5.2)
g.       ____________________ ____________________ die as servants (4.6, 5.1, 5.2)
3.        What is the significance of Fortinbras becoming king?
a.        Elizabethan convention
b.       Is Shakespeare suggesting something about fate and fortune?
c.   Or about decisive action?
d.   Or about deception? (See: Branagh's 5.2)
c.   What do you think of Branagh's interpretation? 
C.       Imagery (Who or what is associated with these images?)
1.        water / liquid
2.        weeds / flowers
3.        Serpents, adders, rats and other animals:
4.        painting  [make-up]
D. Historical and Mythological Allusions 
      1.        Hyperion (Sun God) to Satyr (Goat Man) (1.2 soliloquy)): 
             ____________________ and ____________________
2.        Priam and Hecuba (2.2 Player’s speech and Hamlet’s second soliloquy): ____________________ and ____________________ 
3.        Julius Caesar (3.2 Murder of Gonzago/Mouse Trap scene, 5.2 graveyard scene) 
4.        Alexander the Great (5.1 graveyard scene)
E.       Themes
1.        Fallen world
a.        Hamlet sees the world as corrupt.
aa.     “How weary, flat, stale, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world.”
bb.    “tis an unweeded garden”
cc.     “Man delights not me nor woman neither”
b.       This view is triggered – it seems – by his mother’s overhasty marriage (and later by Ophelia’s lying).
aa.     “Frailty thy name is woman”
bb.    “Get thee to a nunnery.”     
2. Deception: Appearance and Reality, Seems and Is
        a. Examples of the gap between appearance and reality in the play
              b. The effect of the gap between appearance and reality in the play
                   Seems to be x but actually is y which causes z.]
3. Responses to corruption & trauma: Thought and Action
a.        ____________________ 1.2, 2.2, 3.1, 4.4
b.       ____________________ / ____________________ 4.5, 4.7
c.        ____________________ 1.2, 4.4, 5.2

* In order to draw out the thematic significance of characters and events. You must have a mastery of the character's names and the role each character plays in the logical sequence of events (plot).

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