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Shakespeare - Hamlet

by: Kimberly Burke

Shakespeare - Hamlet EH 403

Kimberly Burke
Jacksonville State University
GPA 4.0

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About this Document

These are my class notes on Hamlet. My page numbers are from the Riverside Shakespeare textbook.
Shakespeare I
Dr. Gates
Class Notes
Hamlet, Shakespeare, Tragedies
25 ?




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kimberly Burke on Saturday February 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EH 403 at Jacksonville State University taught by Dr. Gates in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see Shakespeare I in Foreign Language at Jacksonville State University.

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Date Created: 02/13/16
Shakespeare – Hamlet • Characters: o Hamlet – Prince of Denmark, protagonist, 30 years old, son of Queen Gertrude & late King Hamlet, nephew of present King Claudius, hates his uncle’s scheming, hates mother’s sexuality, studied at the University at Wittenburg o Claudius – King of Denmark, antagonist, villain, politician driven by sex & lust for power, seems to love Gertrude o Gertrude – Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, shallow, weak, needs affection & status o Polonius – Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s Court, conniving old man, father of Laertes & Ophelia, really into spying (send Reynaldo to spy on Laertes, dies spying on Hamlet) o Horatio – Hamlet’s college friend, loyal & helpful, tells Hamlet’s story after his death o Ophelia – Polonius’s daughter, Hamlet’s love, obedient, Laertes’ sister, gives in to Polonius’s schemes to spy on Hamlet o Laertes – Polonius’s son & Ophelia’s brother, spends much of the play in France, foil to Hamlet o Fortinbras – young prince of Norway, father is King Fortinbras, father killed by Hamlet’s father, foil for Prince Hamlet o Ghost – specter of Hamlet’s recently deceased father, claims to be murdered by Claudius, calls upon Hamlet to avenge him, Hamlet speculates that the ghost might be the devil sent to deceive him & temp him to murder o Rosencratz & Guildenstern – 2 courtiers, farmer friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, asked by Claudius & Gertrude to figure out why Hamlet is acting strange o Osric – sent to announce conditions of duel o Voltimond & Cornelius - courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the King to stop in Fortinbras from attorney o Marcellus & Bernado – officers who first see the ghost walking the ramparts of Elsinore & who summon Horatio to witness it § Marcellus is present when Hamlet first sees ghost o Yorick – old court jester whose skull is recognized in the grave yard • Single Scene Characters: o Francisco – soldier & guardsmen at Elsinore o Reynaldo – Polonius’s servant, sent to France by Polonius to check up on & spy on Laertes • Soliloquies o Act 2, Scene 2 - To be or not to be – feigned soliloquy § Hamlet knows Claudius & Polonius are hiding in the room but pretends to think he’s alone • He asks where Ophelia’s father is, realizes spies are in the room o Angry that Ophelia blatantly lies to him - tone towards her changes § Hamlet thinks of idea for the play before the soliloquy starts • Murder of Gonzago but add 12-16 lines § A pause for Hamlet § Realizes he has no emotion to grieve his father but a player can cry for Hecuba § Hamlet reasoning the events to himself, no use of ‘I’, talks in the abstract § Hamlet is more of a philosopher o Act 1, Scene 2 – ghost visit, Soliloquy #2 o Soliloquy #3 – Hamlet is no longer angry at mother b/c now he knows Claudius killed his father – excitability of Hamlet § Keeps saying remember the promise – will die trying to avenge his father § Table is his memory st o Claudius’ 1 Soliloquy § Dramatic irony – admits he killed his brother & wonders how he can be pardoned § Talks himself into saying he is too fond of Queen & crown to admit his wrongs § Irony – Hamlet sees Claudius praying & thinks that he could kill him but would rather wait until he is full of sin § Hamlet & Claudius assume the other isn’t listening – simultaneous soliloquies o Claudius’ Soliloquy in Act 4, Scene 3 § Death for Hamlet, public will think he just left • Shakespeare deliberately pads the play – makes it longer than it has to be • Shows how foil characters are important to the play o Other example: Death of a Salesman o Hamlet is foil to Horratio – both students, Horratio doesn’t have family pressure & is confident o Hamlet is foil to Fortinbras – both lost fathers years ago, have claims to kingdoms, warrior responses o Hamlet is foil to Laertes & Ophelia – all lost fathers § Claudius has to keep Polonius’s death a secret § Ophelia knows her father is dead, but no one tells her - goes crazy & kills herself § Laertes is told about his father’s death & demands answers & revenge • Gertrude stands up to Laertes to say that Claudius wasn’t responsible § Hamlet kills Polonius b/c he thought it was Claudius • Hamlet resents father figure for taking his mother’s love o Oedipus Complex - over loving one’s mother • Reference to incest – brother taking brother’s wife in marriage o Hamlet is angry his mother remarried so quickly & wasn’t a proper widow • Shakespeare’s theme – father not liking who his daughter wants to marry or choosing who his daughter marries • Hamlet could be exposed for plot against himself • Morality or revenge – murder haunts Hamlet (original revenger for this idea) • Polonius makes up story about Gertrude needing to see Hamlet o Hamlet is verbally, but not physically, harsh to his mother • Find determination to rise above o Escalates by hyperbole about Fortinbras’ army § The size of the plot of land they are fighting for is not large enough to even bury the dead soldiers • Othello really mad at Ophelia? – too much on his mind to deal with her, angry at Polonius & Claudius • Rosencratz & Guildenstern are sent to take a letter to England that ordered Hamlet’s execution o Hamlet changed the letter to order the execution of the messengers § Changed the letter b/c he is annoyed that they are sent to spy on him • Sailor brings letters to Horratio & King from Hamlet o Horratio’s letter – explains what has happened with the letter that killed Rosencratz & Guildenstern & that Hamlet was captured by pirates § Stage convention – open letter & read aloud to catch the audience up on action o King Claudius’ letter – Hamlet will return to the castle naked (without armor) § This is when the poison plot develops – poison drink & sword dipped in poison o Ambassadors from England will tell King his decree has been completed – surprise that his decree had been changed & now he will have to answer for treason against Hamlet • Ophelia o Gertrude tells the story of Ophelia’s death – was she there? § Pg.1225 line 165 – Gertrude announces death, says the water grabbed Ophelia o Death: suicide or not? o Breakdown begins after Hamlet leaves her but says he once loved her § Tells her “get thee to a nunnery”, women are fake b/c they wear makeup § Woman lets man down, man takes anger out on all women • Hamlet associates makeup, pretty, & dancing with Ophelia’s lies § Direct discourse is more caused by her father’s death o Passes out plants with meanings – other characters realize she has lost her mind § Grief for her father – needs answers • Grave Diggers discuss whether Ophelia should have a proper burial – she couldn’t if it could be proven she committed suicide o Suicide is taboo – Hamlet begins play by discussing how suicide is wrong o Priest refuses to do a full, proper ceremony o Laertes leaps into the grave – Hamlet questions how Laertes could love Ophelia like he did • Imagery of Decay o World is like un-weeded garden – weeds are rank & gross o Marcellous – “something is rotten in Denmark” – really means something suspicious is happening in Denmark o Grave diggers talk about how long it takes skin to fall off the bones § Body is buried in earth temporarily for the flesh to rot off § Bones are removed from hole & new body is placed in hole o Hamlet recognizes the court jester’s skull § Ashes to ashes – everyone dies & rots in the ground o Moral decay metaphor (beginning of play) à actual decay (end of play, grave yard scene) o Soliloquy – Hamlet talks about how bad Claudius is § End of Act 2, Scene 2 – scolds himself for being a coward for not having fulfilled revenge for his father’s death, should live with his flaws § Kite = carrying bird; imagery of a kite eating flesh o Hamlet begs Gertrude to not sleep with Claudius § Don’t spread compost on weeds = don’t fertilize the rotten • Act 1 o Scene 1 - backstory § Horratio asked to witness ghost § Hamlet discusses Fortinbras’ plot § Hamlet Sr. killed by Fortinbras Sr. o Ccene 4 & 5 – ghost talking to Hamlet alone § By the end of scene 5 – Hamlet tells Horratio & Bernardo his plan • Hears the ghost under the stairs • Pretends to be mad – disquisition – may be Bipolar o Disguises his mental state so no one catches on to revenge plot o Pg.1199 – madness, list his behavior • Act 2 o Ophelia reports to Polonius that Hamlet came to her in a strange way § Polonius has a theory of madness by unrequited love b/c Polonius cut the relationship off • Act 3 o Scene 3 § Primal eldest curse – Cain & Abel - Claudius’ 1 Soliloquy • Act 4 o Time has passed since Hamlet yelled at Ophelia & found out he was being sent to England o Scene 3 – pg.1219 § Claudius’ Soliloquy o Scene 5 § Laertes burst in & demands answers from Claudius about Polonius’s death § Ophelia has 2 entrances § Laertes wants answers from the King – Queen steps up to defend him § King can’t publicly say the Queen’s son committed murder • Tells Laertes the truth later • Act 5 o Hamlet has the ability to manipulate people – he makes Osric nervous o The duel between Hamlet & Laertes § Plan to offer Hamlet a poison drink, Laertes’ sword is dipped in poison § Laertes cuts Hamlet when they aren’t fighting § Gertrude drinks the poison § Hamlet forces Laertes’ sword away from him & cuts Laertes with poison sword § Claudius is stabbed with the poison sword & forced to drink poison § Horatio tries to drink poison but Hamlet asks him to live to tell his story


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