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HAMLET - Notes

ACTS 1 AND 2
THEME THESIS TECHNIQUE
1) -Word choice foul [] unnatural -Image of ghost, haunting presence 2) Soliloquy -Alliteration -Punctuation -Repetition -Climbing rhythm + internal rhyme -Accumulation of negative words -Dramatic tone of outrage

EXAMPLE
1) Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. (Act 1 Sc 5 Ln 25) 2) Bloody, bawdy villain! /Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! (Act 2 Sc 2 Ln 532)

MEANING
1) Introduces aspect of revenge tragedy genre. Supernatural themes. 2) Hamlet becomes enraged by Claudius deeds. He is also frustrated because of his tendency to procrastinate, and weigh up the consequences of all his actions.

EFFECT
1) Builds tension and suspense. Creates conflict. Ghost generates a chilling atmosphere. 2) Reveals Hamlets immense outrage and distress (inner struggle). Dramatically characterises him as a truly tortured soul, constantly contemplating.

Revenge Hamlet and Justice explores the nature and consequences of revenge and retribution. The play illustrates how achieving justice through vengeance can lead to moral implications.

Power and The play is Legitimacy about achieving and maintaining political power. It deals with the plotting, spying and scheming associated with Claudiuss attempts to keep power. Evil and Evil is Corruption continually seen to corrupt the minds of others from an initial source. This describes the corruption of the natural world, and relates to incestuous deeds.

1) Inclusive + eloquent language -Metaphor + personification -Succession of contradictory images/oxymoron -Paradoxes + juxtaposition 2) Repetition that -Malicious tone of outrage -Dehumanisation 1) -Recurring metaphor -Imagery of disease and decay -Motif of garden and nature -Word choice + symbolism 2) Sibilance -Tone of disgust -Motif of incest and images of lust

1) our whole kingdom / To be contracted in one brow of woe[]wisest sorrow[]defe ated joy (Act 1 Sc 2 Ln 3) 2) that incestuous, that adulterate beast, (Act 1 Sc 5 Ln 42) 1) tis an unweeded garden / That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature (Act 1 Sc 2 Ln 135) 2) to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets. (Act 1 Sc 2 Ln 156)

1) First presented as a capable ruler, assuming the role of chief mourner. He juxtaposes the recent losses with the new and hopeful beginning that will arise under his ruling. 2) Reveals Claudiuss evil deeds and lengths at which he went to achieve power. 1) Claudiuss evil deeds have caused corruption to spread throughout the palace, Denmark, and ultimately throughout nature. 2) Could reflect an Oedipus Complex, or simply display Hamlets revulsion against his mother with Claudius.

1) Rhetoric demonstrates leadership. Uses the death of Old Hamlet to create a sense of national solidarity within Denmark (uniting behind a collective suffering) 2) Diminishes our respect for Claudius. Presents him as the villain. Creates tension. 2) Portrays disruption of natural order dramatically. Causes strong impact -> diseased nation and rotten state of Denmark. 2) Reveals moral or religious corruption. Conveys one of Hamlets main concerns after his fathers death.

SeemingAppearanc e vs. Reality

The deceptive nature of appearances permeates the text in many ways. A mood of uncertainty hangs over the play, resulting from the fact that almost nothing is certain.

1) Rhetorical question -Indignant and cynical tone

1) Seems madam? Nay it is, I know not seems. (Act 1 Sc 2 Ln 76) 2) The plays the thing / Wherein Ill catch the conscience of the king. (Act 2 Sc 2 Ln 557)

1) Hamlets sharp retort displays his deep emotions and mournful state regarding his fathers death. 2) Hamlet devises a plan to find out whether the ghost is telling the truth. Ironically, he is doing so using players, experts in seeming to be someone else. 1) Already, Hamlet is cursing fate for setting him this dreadful task. This is ultimately the beginning of his procrastination. 2) The whole supernatural world (good+evil) lies behind his revenge(instigated by heaven in its war against the workings of hell). 1) To Hamlet, mankind and the world simply represents the essence of nothing. ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 2) He criticises himself for being unable to take action and release his built up passion and distress.

2) Rhyming Couplet -Alliteration -Irony

1) For once what a character seems to appear is what he truly is feeling. Audience positioned to sympathise with and trust Hamlet. 2) Develops plot + creates suspense. Is the ghost honest? Reveals a crafty and theatrical facet of Hamlets character. Neat + suitable link to continue on to Act 3. 1) Reveals Hamlets nature regarding retributive justice. Characterises him in a tragic light, creates sympathy. Tension building. 2) Brings in the theme of classical vs. Christian values, dealing with retribution and justice. Emphasises the significance of fate. 1) Emphasises Hamlets deep disillusionment with the world, and his feelings of angst. Existentialist ideas presented, he is a philosopher. 2) Portrays his inner struggle to come to terms with himself and the reasons for his delaying. Characterises him as a very selfcritical man.

Destiny + Fate or Meaningles sness

A central concern is the meaning of life, and whether it is purposeful or merely a product of chance. In the end, there does seem to be a force that shapes our existence.

1) Rhyming couplet -Tone of despair

1) The time is out of joint: O cursed spite, /That ever I was born to set it right. (Act 1 Sc 5 Ln 189) 2) Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell (Act 2 Sc 2 Ln 537)

2) Religious allusion -Image of heaven and hell -Metaphorical language -Alliteration

The Self in the World

Everyone is faced with tragedy, or a search for place, at some stage or other. It comes down to whether you choose to value existence, or through the attainment of knowledge, become forever disillusioned.

1) -Punctuation -Rhetorical question -Image of decay -Reference to death

1) What a piece of work is man! [] and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? (Act 2 Sc 2 Ln 286) 2) O what a rogue and peasant slave am I! [] Am I a coward?[] A scullion! (Act 2 Sc 2 Ln 502)

2) -Soliloquy -Metaphor -Emotive language -Tone of anguish -Rhetorical question

Context
Renaissance humanism- generated a new interest in human experience, and also an enormous optimism about the potential scope of human understanding. As the Renaissance spread to other countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, a more skeptical strain of humanism developed, stressing the limitations of human understanding. The world of experience was a world of appearances, and human beings could never hope to see past those appearances into the realities that lie behind them. This is the world in which Shakespeare places his characters. Hamlet is faced with the difficult task of correcting an injustice that he can never have sufficient knowledge ofa dilemma that is by no means unique, or even uncommon. The play as a whole chiefly demonstrates the difficulty of knowing the truth about other people their guilt or innocence, their motivations, their feelings, their relative states of sanity or insanity. The world of other people is a world of appearances, and Hamlet is, fundamentally, a play about the difficulty of living in that world.

Dramatic techniques
Soliloquy/aside Tone + Humour Dramatic Irony + play within the play Character contrast Scene juxtaposition Visual Images

1. Structure
ACT I- Exposition
Scene 1: Guards + ghost + Horatio, tension building, atmosphere of anxiety permeates the play (night time, cold, outside, dark) *Setting, characters and mood of play introduced Scene 2: Contrast/juxtaposition with previous scene, inside castle, bright, crowded, festive + mournful (Claudiuss speech) *Introduced to main characters +Hamlets depression Scene 3: Another contrast and therefore comparison between the father-son relationship between Laertes and Polonius, as opposed to Hamlet and Claudius and/or Old Hamlet. *Ophelias submissive, subservient and nave character is developed + Laertes and Polonius both give her advice (patriarchal society) Scene 4: Back to the ghost, eerie + suspicious atmosphere of tension and mystery *Hamlet goes after the ghost Scene 5: MAIN CONFLICT INTRODUCED By the end of this act, everything has been set in place, and the action can now proceed. *Ghost informs Hamlet of Claudiuss deeds, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, and tells Hamlet to avenge this foul and most unnatural murder.

ACT II- Rising action

Scene 1: The sneaky, cunning plans of Polonius in this scene compliment and reinforce the sense of corruption and disease introduced in Act 1. Madness and the theme of seeming are also further developed, with Ophelias distress over seeing Hamlet putting on an antic disposition. *Polonius concludes that Hamlets madness is caused by his love for Ophelia Scene 2: A LOT HAPPENS!!!! -Claudius has Rosencrantz and Guildenstern spy on Hamlet, echoing previous scene with Polonius sending men to spy on his own son. -Polonius informs and King + Queen of his theory regarding Hamlets madness, then talks to Hamlet, who is reading words, words, words. First encounter of seeing Hamlet acting mad (rather humorous) -Rosencrantz and Guildenstern talk to Hamlet, who suspects them, and delivers a short speech about how the world appears to him, a sterile promontory, a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours, a quintessence of dust. -The players enter and Hamlet asks them to perform a speech about the fall of Troy and the death of the Trojan king and queen, Priam and Hecuba, and then asks them to perform The Murder of Gonzago for the next night. -Hamlets soliloquy, cursing himself. Bitterly remarking that the player could summon a depth of feeling and expression for long-dead figures that mean nothing to him, while Hamlet is unable to take action even with his far more powerful motive.

2. Language
PROSE: dramatic feeling is less intense e.g. Hamlets advice to the Players is in prose which help contrast against and heighten the remoteness of the language in the speech about the fall of Troy. BLANK VERSE: written in iambic pentameter to add rhythm, fluidity and continuity. RHYME: rhyming couplets (usually at the end of a scene) add a sense of completion, emphasise an idea, and/or summarise the scene or passage. E.g. The plays the thing/Wherein Ill catch the conscience of the king. Rhyme contributes to flow and continuity. DESCRIPTIVE PASSAGES + IMAGERY: (using adjectives, often accumulative) To help the audience visualise an idea or scenery, paint a vivid picture. E.g. Horatio []the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets; As stars with trains of fire, and dews of blood, Disasters in the sun; and the moist star, Upon whose influence Neptunes empire stands, Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. (Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 116) But look, the morn in russet mantle clad/Walks oer the dew of yon high eastward hill. (Act 1 Sc 1 Ln 166) QUESTIONS, RIDDLES, ABSTRACT IDEAS: Sets mood in the opening, anxious questions, tone of anticipation, e.g. Horatio What art thou that usurpst this time of night. Hamlets riddles + puns bewilder Polonius (fishmonger) and R+G. The ghost causes Hamlet to express abstract ideas, as he is incapable to displaying the depth of his emotions, e.g. O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?/And shall I couple hell? (Hamlet appeals first to heaven to witness, then to earth as the scene of these crimes, and finally to hell as their source) REFERENCE TO CLOTHES: Polonius the apparel oft proclaims the man (Act 1 Sc 3 Ln 19) Seeming. IMAGES OF INFECTION/DECAY: Laertes The canker galls the infants of the spring/Too oft before their buttons be disclosed (Act 1 Sc 3 Ln 39) Ghost [] than the fat weed/That roots itself in ease on Lethe Wharf. (Act 1 Sc 5 Ln 32) Lethe-a River in Hades. The spirits of the dead, waiting to cross, drank its waters and so became oblivious of their previous existence.

CLASSICAL ALLUSIONS: Hyperion, Jove, Mars, Mercury, Julius Caesar, Neptune, Niobe, Hercules, Nemean lion. Famous Roman playwrights: Seneca and Plautus referred to by Polonius.