hamlet - DOC by umar99

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									Christina Stavropoulos Mrs. Richards AP Eng Lit 09 February 2008 Hamlet Longform THE AUTHOR AND HIS OR HER TIMES: Although William Shakespeare is recognized as the foremost English poet and playwright, there is relatively little known about his life. He was born in StratfordUpon-Avon, probably on April 23, 1564, as the eldest son and third of eight children by John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. In 1582, he married Anne Hathaway, and together they had three children. Once source claims that Shakespeare left Stratford after he was caught illegally hunting in a local official‘s deer park. For whatever reason he left town, arrived in London in 1588 and in 1592 he became a successful actor, a playwright, a stage producer, and a business manager. Shakespeare‘s plays were popular with the court as well as the masses. Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616. Shakespeare‘s sources for Hamlet most likely included the thirteenth-century ―Historia Danica,‖ which recounts the legendary history of one ―Amlethus.‖ It is also probable that he drew from a popular collection of French tales, Histories Tragique, published by Francois de Belleforest in 1576. In addition there was an Elizabethan tragedy that we know was acted in the late 1580‘s but has since been lost. Often called the Ur-Hamlet by critics, the lost tragedy is generally attributed to Thomas Kyd. But the notion of revenge central to Hamlet goes back as far as classical Greek drama and in particular to the Oresteia of Aescheylus. FORM STRUCTURE AND PLOT:

In form, Hamlet is a tragedy, a term broadly applied to any literary and especially dramatic representation of serious actions that turn out disastrously for the chief character. Shakespeare‘s play distinctly follows Aristotle‘s classic analysis and definition of tragedy: ―the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself.‖ Hamlet is written in poetic language and is dramatic rather than a narrative; it contains ―incidents arousing pity and fear‖ to accomplish catharsis of emotion. The tragic hero, Hamlet, suffers a change in fortune from happiness to misery. We are moved both to pity because we recognize that this misfortune is greater than he deserves and to fear generated by our recognition of similar flaws in our own fallible selves. In structure, the act divisions found in almost all modern texts of Hamlet were not planned by Shakespeare and first appeared in 1676, fifty years after the play was written. Their addition to the play is useful for finding a given place though does not separate the action in any dramatically sensible way. Nonetheless, the play is split into Act I through Act V, and scenes to divide each Act. The time span of the play is fairly brief, and begins two months after the murder of King Hamlet. Act II takes place after another interval of two months, and Act III is set on the following night. Although Act IV follows without a break, one must assume that enough time has passed to allow Laertes to receive news of his father‘s death and to allow Hamlet to travel part way to England and then back to Denmark. Act V seems to take place almost immediately after Hamlet‘s return. There is even greater unity of place than time because virtually every scene is set at the castle in Elsinore. Also, among some scenes and parts of scenes Shakespeare uses parallel structure, for example, the parting advice of Laertes to Ophelia is balanced by the advice of Polonius in Act I, Scene iii.

Parallelism also extends to characterization: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are almost explicitly mocked as doublets, whereas Laertes functions as Hamlet‘s principal foil. The play begins with a ghost resembling the recently deceased King of Denmark who stalks the ramparts of Elsinore, the royal castle. Terrified guardsmen convince a sceptical nobleman, Horatio, to watch with them. When he sees the ghost, he decides they should tell Hamlet, the dead King‘s son. Hamlet is also the nephew of the present King, Claudius, who not only assumed his dead brother‘s crown but also married his widow, Gertrude. Claudius seems an able King, easily handling the threat of the Norwegian Prince Fortinbras. But Hamlet is furious about Gertrude‘s marriage to Claudius. Hamlet meets the ghost, which claims to be the spirit of his father, murdered by Claudius. Hamlet quickly accepts the ghost‘s command to seek revenge. Yet Hamlet is uncertain if what the ghost said is true. He delays his revenge and begins to act half-mad, contemplates suicide, and becomes furious at all women. The Lord Chamberlain, Polonius, concludes that Hamlet‘s behaviour comes from his lovesickness for Ophelia, Polonius‘s daughter. Claudius and Gertrude summon two of Hamlet‘s old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to find out what‘s wrong with him. As Polonius develops a plot to spy on a meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia, Hamlet develops a plot of his own: to have a recently arrived troupe of actors put on a play that resembles Claudius‘s alleged murder of Old Hamlet, and watch Claudius‘s reaction. Polonius and Claudius spy on the meeting between Ophelia and Hamlet, during which Hamlet flies into a rage against women and marriage. Claudius concludes Hamlet neither loves Ophelia nor is mad. Seeing Hamlet as a threat, he decides to send him away. At the play that night, Claudius runs from the room during the scene of the murder, proving his guilt. Hamlet gets his chance for revenge when,

on the way to see Gertrude, he comes upon Claudius, alone and praying. But Hamlet holds off—if Claudius is praying as he dies then his soul might go to heaven. In Gertrude‘s room, Hamlet berates his mother for marrying Claudius so aggressively that she thinks he might kill her. Polonius, who is spying on the meeting from behind a tapestry, calls for help. Hamlet thinks Polonius is Claudius, and kills him. Claiming that he wants to protect Hamlet from punishment for killing Polonius, Claudius sends Hamlet to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But Claudius sends with the three men a letter asking the King of England to execute Hamlet. Meanwhile, Polonius‘ son, Laertes, returns to Denmark from France to get revenge for his father‘s death. Claudius convinces Laertes the death is Hamlet‘s fault. When a pirate attack allows Hamlet to escape back to Denmark, Claudius comes up with a new plot in which a supposedly friendly duel between Hamlet and Laertes will actually be a trap, because Laertes‘s blade will be poisoned. As a backup, Claudius will also poison some wine that he‘ll give to Hamlet if he wins. Meanwhile, grief drives Ophelia insane, and she drowns in what seems to be a suicide. Hamlet arrives just as the funeral is taking place. He claims to love Ophelia and scuffles with Laertes. Back at the castle, Hamlet tells Horatio he switched the letter sent to England: now Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will be executed. He also says he is ready to die, and agrees to participate in the fencing match. During the match, Gertrude drinks to Hamlet‘s success from the poisoned glass of wine before Claudius can stop her. Laertes then wounds Hamlet with the poisoned blade, but in the scuffle they exchange swords and Hamlet wounds Laertes. Gertrude falls, saying the wine was poisoned, and dies. Laertes reveals Claudius‘s treachery. Hamlet kills Claudius, and exchanges forgiveness with Laertes. Laertes dies. As Hamlet dies, he hears the drums of Fortinbras‘s army marching through

Denmark after a battle with the Polish, and says Fortinbras should be the next King of Denmark. Fortinbras enters with the Ambassadors from England, who announces that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. Horatio tells Hamlet‘s story as Hamlet‘s body is taken offstage with the honors due a soldier. POINT OF VIEW (NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE): The play is written in third person omniscient. Since Hamlet is a play, it is written mostly in dialogue form. Thus there really is no narrator and hence each character of the play has his or her own point of view. Not only do the readers experience Hamlet‘s emotions and thoughts that he faces throughout the novel but the readers also get to experience King Claudius‘s thoughts and guilt of killing King Hamlet. Thus the play can be characterized as having a third person omniscient point of view and each person‘s emotions and thoughts and conveyed to the readers through their individual dialogues including but not limited to soliloquoys and monologues. There are no shifts in point of view during the novel. The point of view remains omniscient and is all knowing throughout the entire novel. The play is written in present tense. This is mostly due to the fact that the play is written in dialogue. There is no central narrator who is recounting the tale of Hamlet to the readers, it is a play based on dialogues and actions and therefore is written in present tense. Hamlet is a play and thus using a third person omniscient point of view with dialogue stays true to the format of plays.

CHARACTER:  general comments, quote The main character and protagonist of the play is Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, son of Gertrude, nephew of Claudius, and heir to the throne. Hamlet is a round and dynamic person that has much depth to his persona; his profundity and

intensity allows the reader to see his character as believable and relatable. Physically, Hamlet is a man in his 30‘s and of relative attractiveness. He is a deep thinker, who focuses on the impossible to answer questions about religion, death, truth, reality, and the motivations of others. This is most obvious in his soliloquy ―To be or not to be;‖ he can‘t decide whether or not he wants to die or to live with the burdens of reality. He even obsessively contemplates the fact that he obsessively contemplates. Hamlet loves Ophelia and his mother, but his mother‘s marriage to Claudius makes him mistrust and even hate all women. He detests all forms of deception, yet plots and pretends to be insane. At times he even seems to be insane. Despite his obsessive thinking, he can act impulsively, as when he kills Polonius. Hamlet is an enigma, a man so complex even he doesn‘t completely know himself. Claudius, Hamlet‘s uncle, and Gertrude‘s second husband is the antagonist of Shakespeare‘s Hamlet. Power-hungry and lustful, he murders his brother in order to take the throne of Denmark and marry his wife. Claudius is a great talker and schemer, with the ability to easily charm the royal court into accepting his hasty marriage to his brother‘s widow, and come up with plot after plot to protect his illgained power. He is the consummate politician, yet his hold on power is always slightly tenuous. At various times he does show guilt for killing his brother, and his love of Gertrude seems genuine. Gertrude, Hamlet‘s mother quickly marries Hamlet‘s uncle, Claudius. Though she is a good woman and loving mother, she is weak-willed and unable to control her personal passions. Whether because of lust, love, or a desire to maintain her status as queen, she marries Claudius, though this is clearly a breach of proper morals. Though some critics have argued that Gertrude might have been involved in Claudius‘s plot to

kill Old Hamlet, evidence in the text suggests that she is unaware of and uninvolved in the plot. Ophelia‘s character though remaining flat and static changes from being a protagonist to the antagonist. Her importance in the play includes being Polonius‘s daughter, Laertes‘s sister, and Hamlet‘s love. As a woman, Ophelia must obey the men around her and is forced by her father first to stop speaking to Hamlet and then to help spy on him. Ophelia‘s loyalty to her father and resulting estrangement from Hamlet ultimately causes her to lose her mind. Though Laertes and Fortinbras are the characters usually seen as Hamlet‘s ―doubles,‖ Ophelia functions as a kind of female double of Hamlet—mirroring Hamlet‘s half-madness with her own full-blown insanity, and takes his obsession with suicide a step further and actually commits it. SETTING: The setting for the greater part of Hamlet is the Danish castle of Elsinore. Although we might picture the setting of two scenes featuring Polonius and his family as the courtier‘s house, the only scenes that take place in significantly different settings are Act IV, Scene iv and Act V, Scene i: the first takes place in an open plain in Denmark; in the second, Ophelia is buried in a churchyard. Otherwise, the castle battlements and interior rooms serve as an oppressive, menacing backdrop for this dark tale of murder and revenge. The fact that there is little variation in setting underlines aspects of atmosphere, plot, and characterization in Hamlet. In the opening scenes, Laertes‘s departure for France and Hamlet‘s wish to return to his studies at Wittenberg hint that the atmosphere of Elsinore may be claustrophobic. By the end of the first act, the audience has enough information about Claudius‘s treachery and Hamlet‘s anguish to conclude that Hamlet‘s continued presence at court may mean death for the hero. The characterisations of Claudius and

Hamlet, masters in their own ways at dissembling and pretence, together with the portrayals of the fawning, hypocritical courtiers(Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern), combine to produce a tense, ominous atmosphere. The two scenes that show striking variations in setting also dramatize significant turning points in Hamlet‘s development: in Act IV , Scene iv, the sight of Fortinbras‘s army spurs the hero to action, which he plans in his last great soliloquy. In Act V, Scene I, the graveyard scene, Hamlet, or so his statement can be interpreted, comes to terms with his own mortality. DICTION: SYNTAX: Much of the play's language is courtly with elaborate and witty discourse. This work specifically advises royal subjects to amuse their masters with inventive language. Osric and Polonius, especially, seem to respect this rule. Claudius's speech is rich with rhetorical figures—as is Hamlet's and, at times, Ophelia's—while the language of Horatio, the guards, and the gravediggers is much simpler. Claudius's high status is reinforced by using the royal first person plural ("we" or "us"), and anaphora mixed with metaphor to resonate with Greek political speeches of that time. Hamlet is the most skilled of all at rhetoric. He uses highly developed metaphors, stichomythia, and in nine memorable words deploys both anaphora and asyndeton: "to die: to sleep— / To sleep, perchance to dream.‖ In contrast, when occasion demands, he is precise and straightforward, as when he explains his inward emotion to his mother: "But I have that within which passes show, / These but the trappings and the suits of woe.‖ At times, he relies heavily on puns to express his true thoughts while simultaneously concealing them. His "nunnery" remarks to Ophelia are an example of a cruel double meaning as nunnery was Elizabethan slang for brothel.

His very first words in the play are a pun; when Claudius addresses him as "my cousin Hamlet, and my son", Hamlet says as an aside: "A little more than kin, and less than kind.‖ Hamlet‘s ―To Be or Not to Be‖ soliloquy from the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, describes Hamlet‘s morbid and tempestuous feelings. Prior to the soliloquy, Hamlet‘s emotions have been in turmoil due to the appearance of his father‘s ghost and his mother‘s marriage to his uncle. Shakespeare‘s use of literary techniques such as diction, imagery and syntax give the reader insight into Hamlet‘s thoughts and feelings as he contemplates death and the afterlife, and the problems of life. Throughout the soliloquy, Shakespeare‘s use of punctuation reveals where Hamlet begins to grow particularly emotional. The phrase ―… and by a sleep to we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to…‖ is much longer than the short, terse phrases surrounding it, drawing the reader‘s attention. This long phrase shows the swelling of Hamlet‘s emotions, and allows the reader to deduce that Hamlet greatly dislikes his earthly pains and finds the bliss of death to be a ―consummation devoutly to be wish‘d.‖ This quick terse phrase helps to emphasize Hamlet‘s opinion of death. At line 66, Hamlet says, ―for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.‖ Hamlet‘s fears of the after-life are emphasized by his outpouring of emotion, which he then pulls quickly to a stop. Shakespeare‘s use of rather unusual syntax, especially colons and semicolons, draws the reader‘s attention to specific areas. Colons and semicolons tend to be a rather sparsely used form of punctuation, and its overuse indicates that something particularly significant is about to be told. ―To die: to sleep; no more‖ and ―To die: to

sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream.‖ are all amazingly short phrases of two or three words, separated by a semicolon or colon. The reader gains a feeling that Hamlet‘s thoughts grow ponderous here, and become so heavy that he is only able to express himself in simple phrases. Unlike the aforementioned long phrases, these are filled more with thought then emotion. In the selections, Hamlet equates dying to sleeping which leads the reader to believe that perhaps he does not find death quite so intimidating. Of course, further along in the soliloquy, Hamlet begins to have his doubts.

CONCRETE DETAIL/IMAGERY: Shakespeare‘s use of imagery also helps to convey Hamlet‘s belief that he is alone and battling against all odds. In line 58, Hamlet speaks about the ―slings and arrows of outrageous fortune‖ and about ―taking arms against a sea of troubles.‖ By stating that fortune bears weapons of war, Hamlet conveys the idea that he does not find fortune to be some kind-hearted goddess, but cruel and unjust. The second phrase evokes an image of a lonely soul standing proudly alone as wave after waves of terrifying adversary‘s attempts to bring him down, which is how Hamlet feels at this moment. During the time of the soliloquy, Hamlet has no one to consult about the death of his father, and therefore feels that he is adrift with nobody to help. At line 70, Hamlet mentions ―the whips and scorns of time,‖ comparing time to a cruel taskmaster that drives men and women forward unwillingly. Hamlet does not appreciate the manner in which time has torn away the things he loves, including his father, and finds the passage of time to be painful.


Hamlet is not a heavily symbolic play, in terms of physical representation, however there are certain objects that one can easily pick out as symbols in the play: the skull of Yorick, the flowers that Ophelia disperses among other characters, and the Murder of Gonzago. Hamlet finds with Horatio in the graveyard near Elsinore in Act 5, scene 1, as Hamlet picks up the skull and both talks to the deceased Yorick and to Horatio about the skull, he begins ―Alas, poor Yorick‖ and it becomes clear that the skull is a reminder of death, a symbol of the physical breakdown after death and a sign that death is inevitable to all. His abstract concept of death becomes real when he can finally put a face and name to one of its victims. This fuels his fascination with the consequences of death – final and physical. But what is perhaps most interesting about the skull as a symbol is that, while in most plays, a symbol means one thing to the audience and another to the characters in the novel or play, in Hamlet it is Hamlet himself who recognizes and explains the symbolism of Yorick‘s skull. Even this symbol serves to emphasize Hamlet‘s power as a character: he is as sophisticated as his audience. In Act IV, scene v the flowers given by Ophelia to others serve to symbolize elements of her lost love. In her disillusionment she believes that the weeds she holds are vibrant flowers of rosemary, pansies, daisies, fennel, columbines and rue. In reality, the flowers are dead weeds which symbolically display Ophelia and Hamlet‘s extinguished love. She talks directly about the symbolic meaning of those flowers, but what‘s also important is to whom she hands each flower. She maintains that the rosemary and pansies represent remembrance and thoughts of love. "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember," she says, "and there is pansies. That's for thoughts […]. There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue

for you; and here's some for me: we may call it the herb-grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy: I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died." Fennel symbolized strength and praiseworthiness, columbine symbolized folly, daisies symbolized innocence, and violets symbolized faithfulness and modesty. In Act II, scene ii the play-within-a-play, The Murder of Gonzago, is significant in that it represents the murder of the King. Also, it is the play that confirms Hamlet‘s suspicion towards King Claudius and sees his eventual downfall: ―The play‘s the thing, wherein I‘ll catch the conscience of the King.‖ Though, it is also symbolic of Hamlet‘s life. Before the murder scene, there‘s a scene between the actor and actress representing Hamlet‘s father and mother. Hamlet is sitting by Ophelia during this scene, mocking her, while the female character speaks the words that Ophelia could very well be thinking inside her head: ―Woe is me, you are so sick of late, So far from cheer and from our former state…‖ FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE: IRONIC DEVICES: Dramatic irony: In Act I Sc.5, the Ghost reveals to Hamlet that he was poisoned to death by Claudius who spread the rumour that he died of snake bite which is believed to be true by everyone in Denmark. Dramatic irony results because only Hamlet and the readers know the truth that Claudius murdered Hamlet's father. After this revelation, we sympathise with Hamlet and begin to hate Claudius: "Now Hamlet hears...Now wears his crown." (Lines 39-45) At the end of Act I Sc.5, Hamlet makes his two friends Horatio and Marcellus to swear that they must not reveal what they have just seen and heard. We sympathise

with Hamlet who has decided to "put an antic disposition on" (to pretend madness) to deceive the others and not reveal his true feelings and his future plan of action in revenging his father's death. Dramatic irony results because only the readers and his friends Marcellus and Horatio know that he is only pretending to be mad. In Act II Sc.1 Ophelia reports to her father Polonius the strange behaviour of Hamlet. Polonius immediately concludes that Hamlet is 'madly in love' with Ophelia: "This is the very ecstasy of love" and that he has gone mad because she has obeyed his instruction in spurning Hamlet‘s love: "That hath made him mad." Only the readers know that Hamlet is only pretending to be mad. (Lines 112-115) TONE: Hamlet‘s voice defines the style of the play. By himself, Hamlet is deeply philosophical and ponders questions of death and betrayal using language rich with image and metaphor. When interacting with other characters, Hamlet often uses a mocking and sarcastic tone. His puns, wordplay, and sophisticated references put down people he dislikes. For much of the play, Hamlet appears to be mad, and so his sarcasm is quite often used. THEME: A prevalent theme in Hamlet is the inevitability of mortality and it‘s effects on human actions. His musings on suicide, especially the "to be or not to be" speech, are legendary and continue to direct discussions of the value of life and the mystery of death. But Hamlet himself never commits suicide. It is Ophelia, who never mentions the possibility of taking her own life, who drowns herself out of some combination of madness and despair. Even aside from the suicides, death threads through the entirety of Hamlet, from the opening scene‘s confrontation with a dead man‘s ghost to the bloodbath of the final scene, which leaves almost every main character dead. Hamlet

constantly contemplates death from many angles. He is both seduced and repelled by the idea of suicide, but, in the famous gravedigger scene, he is also fascinated by the physical reality of death. In a way, Hamlet can be viewed as extended dialogue between Hamlet and death. Another theme of Hamlet is the struggle between deducing appearance versus reality in an unstable world or atmosphere: Hamlet questions himself on the reality of his father‘s ghost, his friendship with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Claudius‘ actions, and Ophelia‘s innocence in the whole ordeal. Likewise, King Claudius wonders whether or not Hamlet has really gone mad. This theme - the extreme difficulty of getting behind appearances to the truth about people and situations - is kept constant before the reader by the repetition of images based on clothes and paint or make-up, which are suggestive of covering up or concealing the truth. Consider, for example, Hamlet's words to his mother in Act I, scene ii: "Seems madam! Nay it is; I know not ‗seems‘. ‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black That can denote me truly..." And in his first soliloquy, Hamlet says, "...frailty, thy name is woman! A little less than a month, or ere those shoes were old With which she follow'd my poor father's body, Like Niobe, all tears..." (Lines 131161) Later in scene iii, Polonius tells Ophelia that Hamlet's vows are false or deceptive apparel: "Not of that dye which their investments show But mere implorators of unholy suits..." (Lines 135-139) The King, stung by guilt in Act III, says, "The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art, Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it Than is my most painted word..." (Lines 56-60) And Hamlet says of women in Act III, "I have heard of your paintings too, well enough, God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another..." (Lines 150-157) SIGNIFICANCE OF TITLE:

The title Hamlet or The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is quite straightforward for the reader. The play is a tragedy about a prince named Hamlet, who suffers from the actions of his uncle, King Claudius. The title‘s meaning does not change for the reader from pre to post reading. MEMORABLE QUOTES: RESEARCH/LITERARY CRITICISM: ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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