Hamlet Information

Context Elizabethan Theater
Queen Elizabeth Reign 1558-1603, Protestant
Defeat of Spanish Armada 1558
Company male actors performed in London during winter and spring
Players actors who also served as playwrights, directors, and producers
Context of Elizabethan Theater open to all classes, morally & physically dangerous place, loose morality, disease
Upstart Crow well known critic, Robert Greene, attacks Shakespeare in 1592. This is the first reference to Shakespeare. Upstart: someone who rose economically / sociallyCrow: boaster / stealer
The Chamberlain’s Men Shakespeare’s Company
The Kings Men Name change to Shakespeare’s Company in 1603
Bad Quarto 1603; pirated version of play
Good Quarto 1604/5
First Folio 1623
Comedy plot twists, mistaken identities, satirical, complex web of desire, lovers overcome obstacles, wedding at endPMSALE
History historical figures as protagonist (monarchs), patriotic & propaganda, dramatizes hundreds years war MPPHW
Tragedy Conventions of classical tragedy, vengeance & cyclical violence as themes, protagonist diesCCVPD
Shakespearean Tragedy no unity of time/place/actionlanguage of nobles and commoners (soliloquies and comic routines)onstage death and violence
State of Denmark Play is personal and political
Horatio “what art thou, that usurp this time of night, together with that fair and warlike form in which THE MAJESTY OF BURIED DENMARK did sometimes march?”
Horatio “this does some strange eruption to our STATE”
Claudius “Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras…thinking by our late dear brother’s death, OUR STATE to be DISJOINT and OUT OF FRAME”
Horatio “what if I tempt you toward the flood, my lord…and there assume some other horrible form, which might DEPRIVE YOUR SOVEREIGNTY OF REASON and draw you into a madness”
Marcellus “Something is rotten in THE STATE OF DENMARK”
Ghost “Let not THE ROYAL BED OF DENMARK be a couch for luxury and damned incest”
Polonius “this is the very ECSTASY of love, whose violent property fords itself and leads the will to desperate undertakings as oft as any passion under heaven that does afflict our nature”
Ecstasy used to mean insanity / madness, although it currently means intense feelings of joy or grief
Ophelia “o WHAT A NOBLE MINDE IS HERE OVERTHROWN…now see that NOBLE and most SOVEREIGN REASON, like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh; That unmatched form and feature of blown youth blasted with ECSTASY. O, woe is me that have seen what I have seen, see what I see!”
Body Natural The King’s mortal body, subject to all the infirmities that come by Nature of Accident, to the imbecility of Infancy or old age, and to the like defects that happen to the natural bodies of other people.
Body Politic The King’s body that cannot be seen or handled, consisting of policy and government, utterly devoid of infancy, old age, and other natural defects or imbecilities. ^means that what the king does in this body cannot be invalidated or frustrated by any disability in his natural body.
“canker of our nature” imagery to refer to decay and decadence
Madness and Melancholy Hamlet’s ‘ecstasy’
“The play’s the thing” phrase to reference the role of performance in Hamlet
revenge tragedy a genre of tragedy popular in 16th and 17th century english drama
Spanish Tragedy considered the first early modern revenge tragedy, written by Thomas Kyd and published in 1587
Conventions of revenge tragedy 1. main character motivated by a desire to avenge a grievance2. grievance usually committed against a family member of the main character3. multiple gory scenes (1+)4. Play within a play5. scenes portray main character’s “madness” AGGPPM
Hamlet “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world! Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely”referencing post-father death
Hamlet “tis now the very witching hour of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world”referencing ghost
Lucianus “thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing; confederate season, else no creature seeing; thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected, with Hectate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected, the natural magic and dire property, on wholesome life usurp immediately. “referencing on stage drama (play within a play) in which he pours poison into the King’s ear. Demonstrated Claudius doing so to his father.
Claudius “O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven…a brother’s murder. What if this cursed hand were thicker than itself with brother’s blood. Is there not rain enough in sweet heavens to was it white as snow?”referencing Claudius assumed gilt and subsequent prayer post brother murder
4 Humors of Hamlet 1. Yellow Bile2. Blood3. Black Bile4. Phlegmemotional states that have physical manifestations
Yellow Bile short-tempered, wrathful humor 1
blood happy, generous, optimistic humor 2
black bile melancholic, introspective, sentimentalhumor 3 MOST IMPORTANT
phlegm sluggish, cowardlyhumor 4
verisimilitude “truth seeming” ; resemblance to a true situation, believability, plausibility