Hamlet-Background Info

Basic Plot Setting Elsinore, Denmark; sometime between 700-1100; the chronology is notoriously impercise
Basic Plot Forward king hamlet (hamlet’s father) has killed king Fortinbras of Norway in a duel; also king hamlet has died of murder
Basic Plot the kings brother, Claudis, has married queen Gertude and assumed the throne. king hamlet’s ghost visits hamlet and asks for him to take revenge upon his murderer. He struggles with the duty to avenge his fathers murder and his consciousness.
The Hamlet Legend Scandinavian legend–> recorded in narrative in early 13th century by Grammaticus–> belleforest version–> Shakespeare’s infused plot, characters, and thematic variations
Main Ideas need for social stability and orderly succession; even when society can hide something rotten becomes a metaphor for what’s rotten in the human spirit. question revenge with all its psychological, spiritual, and political variations.emotional and intellectual questions about life.
Conflicts appearance v. reality.theater v. lifeparents v. childrenthought v. actionmadness v. insanity. impulsive actions v. thoughtful actions
Themes the importance of tradition and loyalty; individual intelligence and maintaining integrity diseased political body is the hidden source of evil. All are affected by evil. Authoritarian body with spies everywhere.
Hamlet’s language heavy use of puns, sarcasm, verbal irony, and double-meanings. wit reflects his emotional sensitivity and multi-faceted intellectunderstands ironic disparity btw appearances and realityuniversity intellect, which represents a new age of language: the renaissance man.
blank verse unrhymed iambic pentameter with occasional rhyming couplets.
doctrine of decorum’ formula followed by all reputable writers of the time. it related to the accepted hierarchical view of society. high ranking characters spoke in verse: rhythmic patterned lines, both rhymed and unrhymedlow ranking characters spoke in prose: sentences neither rhythmic nor rhymed
imagery associated with death, corruption, and disease to describe things.
comedy allows us to see human nature with all its flaws and foibles and helps us laugh at/accept ourselves
tragedy deals with the extreme emotions of life. one may reach the pinnacle of success, only to fall down to utter defeat and death.
Shakespearean tragedy expose the intimacies of the human mind and explore the workings of human behavior and human relationships
anachonism occurs when a character is placed in a location or situation that could not be possible during that person’s lifetime.
puritan influence considered acting as a form of deception, lies and unnecessary exposure of sins and negative behavior; encouraged a dissolute and irresponsible lifestyle. in 1642 theater was banned only to reopen in 1660.
ptolemaic model geocentric theory; earth centered universe; represents a hierarchical arrangement where everyone and everything has an exact place and order of being.
chain of being strictly structured. important to most Shakespeare plays. any violation was a seriously destructive act that could impair the whole.