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Literary Theory Graphic Organizer – Andrei Matusa

Hamlet III.iv

Note: Not all theories will yield rich interpretations. As such you only need to analyse the text from
three of the four perspectives provided.

Theory Evidence from the text (including Analysis (What does this theory reveal
parenthetical citation) about the text that you might not
otherwise notice?)
Reader Response “A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good The reader’s response deems text
mother, As kill a king and marry with meaningless until a reader reacts with
his brother.” it. In this case, the reader should read
(3.4.29-30) this with a loud, angry tone, proving
the seriosity of Gertrude’s sins.
Reacting to this calmly doesn’t stress
the seriosity of the situation enough, it
would seem as though Hamlet was
being thoughtful, however, reading this
out-loud with anger indicates that
Hamlet is, in fact, mad with his mother.
What this means, is that the ideal
reader must express certain emotions
in order to fully comprehend the text.
Reader Response “Come, sir, to draw toward an end with Hamlet has just finished talking to his
you.” mother and is now leaving and taking
(3.4. 221) Polonius’ dead body. The intended
reader would most likely deem Hamlet
insane, firstly talking to a dead body,
and then saying he wants to come to a
conclusion (“toward an end with you”)
with an already “concluded” (dead)
person. It is then inferred that “you” is
not Polonius as an individual, but rather
Hamlet’s opposition as a whole:
Claudius and those loyal to him. In
other words, Hamlet is saying he wants
to come to a conclusion with Claudius
and those loyal to him, not Polonius
individually, and this should be inferred
by the implied reader.
Archetypal “How now? A rat! Dead for a ducat, In this segment Polonius aligns with the
dead.” innocent victim archetype while Hamlet
(3.4.24) aligns with the Hero archetype. In the
Hero archetype, the hero MUST
overcome obstacles in his/her journey
–traumatic obstacles to be specific—
and Polonius symbolizes one of these
traumatic obstacles. Thinking Polonius
is the king, Hamlet stabs and kills him.
After finding out it’s Polonius, Hamlet
regrets stabbing him, but then
overcomes this as he continues to
interrogate his mother, and then later
leaves to hide the body.
Archetypal “Do not forget. This visitation is but to In this scene, the ghost represents the
whet thy almost blunted purpose. But archetype of the Wise Old Man. This is
look, amazement on thy mother sits.” a side character who shows up to guide
(3.4.112-114) the protagonist on his/her journey. The
ghost offers wisdom to the hero,
Hamlet, on how to deal with his
mother. In the scene, Hamlet
investigates his mother’s love life a
little extensively, wandering off-course
–that being to kill Claudius. The ghost
(wise old man) shows up to guide
Hamlet back on the right track.
Feminist “O, step between her and her fighting In this excerpt, Hamlet Sr. is talking to
soul. Conceit in the weakest bodies Hamlet Jr. to interfere and help his
strongest works.” mother, deeming her weak. This shows
(3.4.114-115) the stereotypical way women used to
be perceived, as mere objects. The text
paints women as so incapable that men
must protect women even from
themselves. So, a feminist analysis
shows that women were painted as
meek, incapable side characters. She is
shown as a damsel in distress.
Feminist “What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not This excerpt once again shows how
murder me? Help, help, ho!” women were seen in this era. They
(3.4.22) were perceived as weak and needed a
knight in shining armour (a male) to
save them. Once again, she’s shown as
a damsel in distress who needs a man
to save her. This is rather ironic seeing
as Gertrude is the Queen and Hamlet’s
mother, yet Hamlet seems to have the
upper hand. This scene vividly
demonstrates how women were
considered weak and defenseless in
this era.
Post-colonial N/A N/A