Honors English: Hamlet

the great chain 1) god: perfection 2) angels: intuition3) man: existence, growth, passion, reason4) animals: existence, growth, passion5) plants: existence, growth6) minerals: existence -most heavenly on top, basest creatures on bottom
links in the chain -each separate link (or sub-class) in the Great chain bears its own inner hierarchy -Angels= Powers, Virtues, Archangels, etc-Plants: roses are the highest
The Human Link -most important was hierarchy in human chain; a chain of social status and power-status in the Great Chain is immutable (unchangeable) because it was formed by God (Royal Absolutism) 1) Queen Elizabeth (close to Angelic) 2) Knights3) Monks 4) craftsman (skilled laborers) 5) serfs (unskilled laborers)
Human Chain -we find many of the elements of interest to Shakespeare’s plays (especially if they apply to royalty)-displacement within chain (king giving up his God-given power) leads to suffering -Tampering with Great Chain can lead to chaos (Hamlet)
Don’t Mess With The Chain -this chaos fits in with Elizabethan ideas of status mobility; cannot move on social ladder (serfs remain serfs)-God established Chain and God is perfect = Chain and social order is perfect-Chaos is punishment for tampering with Chain (when monarchy suffers, whole town suffers)
The Basics -An Elizabethan philosophy popular in Shakespeares time (worked its way into literature and entertainment)-Primary focus of Great Chain: everything on earth and in heaven is linked and orderly, all people and things have their place in a grand scheme, gave sense, order, and meaning to life
Historical Background -written by Shakespeare-16th century Elizabethans believe in Ghosts-Marriage to in-laws was considered incest-Suicide was forbidden; could not have holy burial-stay in purgatory to work off sins not confessed before death-believed god would forgive all sins one sincerely repented of -mourning was for two years
Claudius king of Denmark and Hamlet Jr. uncle-poisoned Hamlet Sr (his brother), and married his wife-villian of the play-ambitious politician (manipulative) -drive by sexual appetite and lust for power-occasionally shows signs of guilt and human feeling; does love for Gertrude, but married her to steal throne from hamlet -fear of Hamlet’s insanity; when Gertrude tells him about polonius, he worries that he himself would have been in danger, not his wife-doesn’t really love gertrude because he let her drink poision (only cares about throne)
Hamlet son of late king (Hamlet Sr) & Queen Gertrude; prince of Denmark (nephew of present king, Claudius) -very sensitive-indecisive/hesistant but also impulsive (eg. stabbing polonius) -popular-can be cruel; hatred for his uncles scheming and disgust for his mothers sexuality and all women (obsessed with proving him guilty)-very mysterious -a university student; studies are interrupted by fathers death; philosophical and questions many things about life -doesnt think much about Denmarks threats
Polonius father of Laertes and Ophelia-chief advsior; Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court-pompous, nosey and foolish
Horatio Hamlet’s faithful and brave friend (studied with him at University of Wittenberg)-remains alive to tell Hamlet’s story
Laertes Polonius’s son, Ophelia’s brother-tricked by Claudius-acts before thinking-spends time in France-passionate and quick to action-foil for the reflective Hamlet
Gertrude widow of late king & wife of present king (Queen of Denmark)-weak-seeks affection more than the truth-concerned about her son-best in social situations; graceful and charming-downfall: reliance on men-no evidence she helps with murder; suspects it, but did not want to reveal affair
Ophelia Polonius’ daughter, Laerte’s sister-beautiful young woman whom Hamlet falls in love with-sweet and innocent (obeys father and brother, Laertes)-Dependent on men to tell her how to behave; gives in to Polonius’s schemes to spy on Hamlet-Lapse into madness and death
Ghost is ghost of the murdered king-seeks revenge for murder (claims to have been murdered by Claudius); calls Hamlet to avenge him-Hamlet is unsure if the ghost is really his dad; could be a devil to tempt him to murder-The question of who he is is never solved
Fortinbras prince of Norway whose father was killed by Hamlet’s father-wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his fathers honor (foil for Prince Hamlet)-takes over Denmark
Osric a foolish courtier who summons Hamlet to his duel with Laertes-Hamlet makes fun of him
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern school friends of Hamlet-betrayers; summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior
Motifs: Revenge Hamlet is to take revenge on Clauidus for Hamlet Sr. murder (will he?)
Motif: Morality what is the meaning of life?
Motif: appearance vs. reality -Claudius lies constantly-Polonius spies-Ophelia lets herself be used-Concealed disease of body and of mind-HAMLET TALKS TO GHOST (LACK OF FEAR)
Motif: corruption something is rotten in Denmark (THE KING)
motif: madness -Hamlet’s behavior-Ophelia’s inability to cope-Gertrude’s “love” for her son
motif: sexuality and incest -Hamlet and the ghost -Hamlet and Gertrue-Hamlet thinks he loves Ophelia (but he is not treating her right)
imagery word pictures of disease and decay-puns and word play
frame story the theater “dumb show”within the larger story (mirrors main story)
allusions mythological, Biblical, historical
style Iambic pentameter-with end rhymes, relieved by passages of prose and blank verse-meter: emphasis is placed on second syllable (daDUM, daDUM)-sonnets: 14 lines of iambic pentameter with three quatrains and a couplet (ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG)-sonnet sequence: two or more sonnets linked together
soliloques long solo speeches that express the inner thoughts and emotions of characters
tragedy everyone dies
Setting -Denmark (castle in Elsinore)-Open plain in Denmark-A churchyard
Voltimand and Cornelius courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking
Marcellus and Bernardo officers who first see the ghost walking the ramparts of Elsinore and who summon Horatio to witness it-marcellus is present when Hamlet first encounters the ghost
francisco soldier and guardsman at elsinore
Reynaldo Polonius’s servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes
theme: uncertainty -Hamlet postpones his actions while he tries to obtain more certain knowledge about what he is doing: Hamlet fails to act appropriately -poses many questions about ghosts, crime and evidence-shows how many uncertainties our lives are built upon
theme: complexity of action -when hamlet does act, he does it blindly, recklessly and violently-all actions miscarry: Claudius marries Gertrude boldly, but he is tormented by his conscience
Theme: Mystery of Death -After his fathers murder, Hamlet is obsessed with idea of death -Considers death from many perspectives: ghost vs. corpse -the cause and consequence of revenge; tied to theme of revenge and justice (Claudius’s murder initiates Hamlet’s quest for revenge, Claudius’ death ends it)-hamlet questions whether suicide is moral (does not do it because he does not want to go to hell)-fear interferes with capacity for action
symobl: Yorick’s Skull -Hamlet finds in graveyard-Hamlet thinks about deaths unavoidability and disintegration of the body-fascinated by physical consequences of death (decay)
Class notes: justice vs. revenge -Hamlet Sr. is bad dad; tells Hamlet to seek revenge (causes his downfall); good parent tell you to seek justice-Hamlet & Laertes want revenge, Fortinbras wants justice (why he wins)
Trinity 1) Father (hamlet sr.)2) Son (hamlet jr.)3) Holy Spirit (ghost)-also trinity of revenge for dads: laertes & polonius, fortinbras & father, hamlet jr. & sr
Ophelia class notes -doesn’t obey: no longer pure (most important to women) & speaks back to Laertes (independent)
to be or not to be soliloquey pretends to sound insane (soliloquey but he knows they can hear)-says ophelia reminds him of his sins (you are keeping me evil)-Hamlet starts being very mean to her; you = informal, thou = formal-tells her to go to a nunnery (pretending he is hurt when she dies?)
why crazy -pretends to be crazy so they don’t think he is a threat: king ends up thinking he is more of a threat
Disordered State: act 1 scene 1 “this bodes some strange eruption to our state”State= state of being or physical1) state of being:-emotional: mental, crazy (all characters)-metaphysical: ghost, Great chain of being2) physical -country, kingdom, government, king-war, fortinbras
disordered state act 1 scene 2 “with mirth in funeral with dirge in marriage”-war; fortinbras-Elizabethan ideals: 1) mourning time: Hamlet’s emotions (depressed; in mourning); mad at his mom: she is weak and a ho (so all women are) 2) incest: Gertrude marries Claudius3) ghost
disordered state act 1 scene 3 “Given private time to you”-ophelia’s relationship with hamlet; different classes (great chain of being)-difference in advice-ophelia talks back to brother/lying to polonius
disordered state act 1 scene 4 “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”-ghost; hamlet follows: sanity vs. insanity, illusion vs. reality
disordered state act 1 scene 5 “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”-“his” -> who? (don’t know identity of ghost)-justice vs. revenge
wind hawk and handsaw
who dies 8 people; claudius is last
you vs. thou you = informal, thou = formal