What do Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo call the Ghost? “thing””dreaded sight””apparition””it” – dehumanisation represents an attempt to confine the Ghost to their imagination
What theme is established at the beginning of the play? Appearance and reality
What atmosphere is created at the beginning of the play? Gothic
What tone is created at the start of the play? – A tone of uncertainty and fear is established through the question: “Who’s there?” This begins the search for personal identity and for the reality behindt he appearance. – An anxious tone is created through the successive use of simple sentences which creates an uneasy rhythm.
Technical term to describe the way in which Shakespeare begins the play In medias res – so as to capture the audience’s attention through the suspense of Barnardo’s ghost story. Through lulling the reader into Barnardo’s story, the dramatic impact of the Ghost is increased.
Setting at the beginning of the play One of transition:- Transitory nature of the Ghost – Set at midnight, the liminal hour when ghosts were believed to visit the earth
When and how does Hamlet appear in the play? – Hamlet does not make an appearance with the masculine characters of Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo. – Instead he appears in the Danish court wearing his “nighted colour” in Act 1 Scene 2 which instantly separates him from the other characters.
Significance of Wittenberg University Associated with Martin Luther, the epitome of the Reformation
Why do Marcellus, Barnardo, and Horatio try to dissuade Hamlet from following the Ghost in Act 1 Scene 4? They are worried that the Ghost is trying to lead him into suicidal madness.
When and why does Hamlet say that he will put on an “antic disposition”? – Hamlet says that he will put on an “antic disposition” on in Act 1 Scene 5 because the Ghost has just instructed him to take revenge on Claudius for the crime he has committed. Hamlet swears to do so. – However, the fact that Hamlet asks Horatio and Marcellus not to tell any of the characters about his “antic disposition” reinforces the idea that he really is not mad at all.
Types of madness in the play Hamlet:- Real madness- Feigned madness: “antic disposition”- Love sickness, as declared by Polonius in Act 2 Scene 1 when Ophelia describes Hamlet’s behaviour in her private-roomOphelia:- Real madness
Spying in the play – Claudius sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet in Act 2 Scene 2. – Polonius sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes.
Name of the play that Hamlet plans to put on The Murder of Gonzago – an example of metatheatre, in which Hamlet will deliver an additional speech that he has written himself
Hamlet’s soliloquys 1st soliloquy: Act 1 Scene 2: “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt”2nd soliloquy: Act 1 Scene 5: “O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?”3rd soliloquy: “Ay, so, God buy to you. Now I am alone.”4th soliloquy: “To be, or not to be: that is the question.”
Theme of Hamlet’s 1st soliloquy – Suicide: “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew”, where ‘solid’ nicely predicts ‘melt’ and draws a juxtaposition between life and death. – Corruption: “an unweeded garden / That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature”, where the inversed imagery of the Garden of Eden picks up on the idea that even what seems pure at first could be corrupt. – Hamlet’s father: “Hyperion to a satyr”, where Hamlet praises his father to the point where he becomes a sun-god. This explains why Hamlet claims that he is “too much in the sun” in Act 1 Scene 2 in response to Claudius’ questioning of his melancholic mood, suggesting that he feels a sort of spiritual unity with his father and does not want to break away from it. This also plays on the homophone: ‘son’, bringing up the theme of incest as he is now Old King Hamlet’s son and Claudius’ step-son. – Incest: “With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!”; the fact that Hamlet’s sentences become increasingly disjointed when he talks about his mother suggests that he is more preoccupied with his mother than his father.
Theme of Hamlet’s 2nd soliloquy – Reference to the theatre in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed: “In this distracted globe.” The transferred epithet implies that it is really Hamlet himself who is distracted by the ‘psychic domination’ of his mother, rather than taking revenge on Claudius on behalf of his father. – Anger towards his mother: “O villain, villain, smiling damned villain!”
Theme of Hamlet’s 3rd soliloquy – Isolation: “Now I am alone.” This short emphatic statement reinforces the idea that Hamlet is alone on the stage and about to deliver a soliloquy, however it also reinforces his separation from the other characters. – Passion: “What would he do, / Had he the motive and the cue for passion, / That I have?” Here, Hamlet questions why he is unable to muster a willingness to take revenge on his father, whilst the actor can act more impassioned than Hamlet without any motive. Hamlet refers to himself as being “pigeon-livered”, suggesting that he lacks the courage to stick to his promise.
Themes of Hamlet’s 4th soliloquy – Suicide: “To be, or not to be: that is the question”; Hamlet debates whether it would be better if he was dead. However, contemplating suicide was viewed as a weakness, revealing Hamlet’s effeminate weakness. The fact that Ophelia’s death in Act 5 Scene 1 is “doubtful” and that she receives “maimed rites” rather than a full Christian burial reinforces the idea that suicide was associated with the weak. Suicide was also illegal in the Elizabethan era because it disgraced the body of one’s honour.- Thinking: “conscience does make cowards of us all”; this suggests that because Hamlet knows what happened to his father, he has become weakened.
The nunnery scene – Act 3 Scene 1- Hamlet unleashes his anger on Ophelia, aware that listeners are behind the arras. He issues his threat: “Those that are married already – all but one – shall live.” The fact that Hamlet has delivered such a threat against Claudius, that he has threatened Ophelia, his increasingly mad behaviour, and that he asks the question: “Where’s your father?” suggest that Hamlet knows Polonius and Claudius are behind the arras.
The performance of the playlet – Act 3 Scene 2- ‘The Murder of Gonzago’ is performed, however Shakespeare ensures that the spectators remain focussed on watching Claudius (imitating Hamlet and Horatio’s preoccupation) by rendering the playlet relatively uninteresting. – By the end of the first act, Claudius and Gertrude appear uncomfortable and by the beginning of the second act, Claudius declares: “Give me some light. Away.” He has convicted himself.
Hamlet’s response to Claudius’ behaviour during the playlet Hamlet appears to be in a heightened state of mind as he declares: “Now could I drink hot blood”, suggesting that he is thirsty for revenge. However, Hamlet allows himself to focus too much on his mother, rather than his father, and so he does not take revenge during this scene.
Claudius praying – Act 3 Scene 3- Claudius admits to himself in a soliloquy the crime that he has committed, raising the theme of corruption: “my offence is rank, it smells to heaven” where the juxtaposition of corrupt nature and the purity of heaven reinforces the gravity of the crime he has committed. – However, Claudius feels that he cannot pray, repent, or ask for God’s forgiveness because he is still in possession of the rewards of his crime, i.e. the throne and the Queen. – Hamlet catches Claudius when he thinks he is praying but he decides not to murder him at this point because Claudius would go to heaven if he was to die now and so this would not be true revenge. However, Claudius has really be unable to pray.
The closet scene – Act 3 Scene 4- Gertrude assumes her role and a discussion ensues between her and Hamlet. – Hamlet kills Polonius, thinking him to be Claudius. This means that Hamlet has unwittingly become part of another revenge plot. – Hamlet verbally assaults his mother until the Ghost arrives, which supposedly Gertrude cannot see.
Claudius’ reaction to Hamlet’s madness Claudius decides that Hamlet must be sent to England because he is a threat to everyone and so must be dealt with. This decision is taken because Claudius acknowledges that the royal household has not arrested the problem of Hamlet’s madness, but have just spied on him instead. Thus, Hamlet’s madness is escalating and is now threatening his own personal position, i.e. Claudius may be blamed for Polonius’ death because they have not contained him.
Structure of the play as of Act 4 Scene 1 The action of the play moves quickly after this point and so the conventional division into scenes can be seen as an interruption.
What strengthens Hamlet’s resolve to act? Fortinbras marches across the stage in Act 4 Scene 4, leading his army, on his way to fight in Poland. He needs to cross Denmark in order to get there; this shows how Shakespeare seemed to think that Poland was next to Denmark. Because Fortinbras is sent to engage in a battle of honour, Hamlet is further convinced that he must act.
Ophelia’s madness – Act 4 Scene 5- Laertes is full of anger and range over the suspicious circumstances of his father’s death and is refuelled when he sees Ophelia who is singing in madness of love and death.
The pirate scene – Act 4 Scene 6 – This suggests that Hamlet can only take revenge when it is spontaneous and so he does not have time to think, i.e. the murder of Polonius. – Hamlet has returned to Denmark.
When is it announced that Ophelia has died? Gertrude announces that Ophelia has drowned in Act 4 Scene 7.
When does the pace of the play slow down? As of Act 5 Scene 1, allowing time for some dark humour surrounding a gravedigger who is digging Ophelia’s grave.