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A play full of questions...

Hamlet starts differently: not in usual exposition; tension - fear; midnight; starts with the guards;

Francisco – standing guard

Barnardo – will change him

HORATIO – name (ratio); scholar

Scene 2 – Court, Festive (parallel plot – uncle [Claudius] to uncle [Fortinbras])

Hamlet wears black, Hamlet starts with an aside... playing with language (kin and kind); he’s language is
clouded with meaning, he’s speaking in riddles. “Common” – whore

WITTENBERG – FAUSTUS; Germany; Luther – protestanism

He’s depressed, he’s suicidal, he’s depressed with his mother (marrying his uncle)...

REFLECTION PAPER: HAMLET’s encounter with the GHOST and the effect of the GHOST... Hamlet post-
ghost (pre-ghost and post-ghost).

The Ghost

1.4. They all see the ghost

Hamlet first reaction to the ghost – Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

Horatio as reason – no, don’t follow the ghost

The rest as reason


Is it a purgatorial ghost? In this period of time, England is in PROTESTANT belief

Murder – repetition in 1.5.

Hamlet has a different sort of time

The father’s description of Claudius coincides with Hamlet’s monologue about Gertrude

- Incest, adulterous

Revenge tragedy is a fascination in Elizabethan England

Meta-theatrical moment – globe – world, head, theatre

Mixed signal of memory in Hamlet’s post-ghost speech


Hamlet meta-theatre breaking the fourth wall

Hamlet to Horatio (1.5) There are limits to human rationality


Madness in Act 2

The House of Polonius and Claudius

Spying their children

Policing women flesh

A world of deception

Polonius – “mad for thy love” Bedlum – Bethlehem (equivalent of keep mad men)

Travelling troupes – theatricality in Hamlet

Hamlet knows he’s being watched... everybody is audience, Hamlet is actor

Hamlet has a relationship with the players

Why was he comparing himself to the players?

Hamlet was a misogynist

Hamlet was moved by the Hecuba speech

A modern view of mental illness

Hamlet’s Dilemma: Hamlet doesn’t believes in GHOST. Fear of Death. Hamlet is intelligent. He is afraid of
uncertainty. He cannot kill himself, he doesn’t believe in the ghost, he wants proof, hamlet doesn’t have
that kind of faith, he needs proof and empirical evidence before he act, existential conflict.
Reflection paper: Read Act 3 and 4

“Where you see the turning point of the play?” [somewhere in Act 3]

Turning point – the point of no return

21 November 2017

What is the TURNING POINT of the Play?

The Mousetrap

The Confession – the prayer scene – does he believe or not in heaven? Although, Hamlet is a thinker. He
doesn’t want to act out of reasoning.

The bedroom scene – the killing of Hamlet to Polonius

Is revenge Hamlet’s problem? What is Hamlet’s motivation?

The mother’s hasty re-marriage... the mother’s over sexuality...

Different versions and interpretations of Hamlet

- Silent film (Hamlet)

- 1921 Dutch Silent Film of Hamlet
- Laurence Olivier’s film version (1949) – Oedipal reading of Hamlet
- Kenneth Branagh’s (1996) – Hamlet grieving... Humanizing Hamlet
- David Tenant

Reflection Paper: Gertrude (who is she lying to?) Act 3.4 and 4.1

23 Nov. 2017


Gertrude has no interior moments [soliloquy] unlike Hamlet... Her character is underwritten... no one
knows where her side really lies...

“frailty thy name is women”

Hamlet is a misogynist – understanding women outside of their body

Madness – Hamlet and Ophelia [how is the madness manifested...]

Grief vs. Anger

Ophelia’s madness is rendered in song... Hamlet’s madness is words...

FLOWERS: all of those have meanings... language... deprived of reason... hamlet has rational madness...

Ophelia’s madness escapes all logic

Ophelia’s Madness is subjective [because women go mad]... Hamlet is objective [because he is male]...

Ophelia’s madness is an aesthetic object [aestheticized]

Is Hamlet a Tragedy?

If you look at the definition of Classical Tragedy, Ophelia’s death is tragic cause is brings pity but no fear.

What is the predominant emotion in Hamlet’s death?

Hamlet makes fun of death...

“The world is not all about Hamlet” in Act 5

The divinity knows all...

The idea of giving one over... the readiness to death of Hamlet – makes Hamlet a tragic figure

Reach some kind of apex of human understanding... of profundity.... a kind of maturity...

The awe at the power of the universe... tragedy is complex...

Don’t reduce him to a tragic flaw