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Intro to Hamlet

Background information on Shakespeare's play
by

John Curtis

on 3 February 2013

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Transcript of Intro to Hamlet

Hamlet William Shakespeare 1590 Henry VI, Part I
1590 Henry VI, Part II (Honigmann 1590)
1590 Henry VI, Part III
1592 Richard III
1592 The Comedy of Errors
1593 Titus Andronicus
1593 Taming of the Shrew
1594 The Two Gentlemen of Verona
1594 Love's Labour's Lost
1594-95 Romeo and Juliet
1595 Richard II
1595 A Midsummer Night's Dream
1596 King John
1596 Edward III
1596 The Merchant of Venice
1597 Henry IV, Part I
1594-1597 Love's Labour's Won
1598 Henry IV, Part II
1599 Henry V
1599 Julius Caesar
1599 Much Ado About Nothing
1599 As You Like It
1597-1600 The Merry Wives of Windsor

1599-1600 Hamlet

1602 Twelfth Night
1602 Troilus and Cressida
1603 All's Well That Ends Well
1603 Othello
1603 Measure for Measure
1603-06 King Lear
1603-05 Macbeth
1606 Antony and Cleopatra
1607 Coriolanus
1607 Timon of Athens
1608 Pericles, Prince of Tyre
1609 Cymbeline
1609-10 The Winter's Tale
1611 The Tempest
1612 Henry VIII
1612 The Two Noble Kinsmen SUPER NATURAL After a visit from a spirit who claims to be his father's ghost, Hamlet believes (sort of) that his uncle has poisoned his father. REALITY vs. IMAGINARY The play focusses on "madness". What drives people insane? How can we tell when people are insane? Can people "imagine" themselves into insanity? Death threads its way through the entirety of "Hamlet", from the opening scene's confrontation with a dead man's ghost to the bloodbath of the final scene. "Hamlet" is interesting for the way it explores 16th Century Christian attitudes toward murder, suicide, and revenge, which don't necessarily square with the basic tenets found in the genre of Revenge Tragedy. The PLAY WITHIN THE PLAY Hamlet decides to have a travelling theatre group perform a play that will incriminate his uncle. CAUTION: GIRLS WILL CRINGE! Hamlet's attitude toward women is notoriously sexist and stems from his disgust at his mother's sexuality and seeming unfaithfulness to his dead father. This outlook eventually spills over to include all women! Hamlet's attitude toward women reveals something about him more than it reveals women's true nature. "TO BE OR NOT TO BE" The play dwells on family issues such as loyalty and even incest--- between wife and brother-in-law, mother and son, brother and sister, and, especially the way politics impacts the dynamics of family relationships, especially when domestic harmony is sacrificed for political gain. Shakespearean Tragedy Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, plots revenge for his father's death after learning---from a ghost---that his uncle killed his father. After his father's death, Hamlet mourns unnaturally, wearing black, acting moody, even crazy, and depressed, so everyone around him tries to cheer him up. But, as the audience, we have to decide if he's only acting or actually insane! The most complex character IN LIterature The play marks the beginning of a new kind of literature that focuses on the struggles and conflicts within a single individual, rather than the external conflicts between individuals.Hamlet was one of the first characters ever to have a developed and mysterious inner life. Hamlet, more than almost any character in literature, hates deception and craves honesty. However, deception is necessary for and used by every character in Hamlet, for every purpose ranging from love to parenting to regicide. LIES AND DECEPTION Hamlet dates back to a 9th century story that centers on "Amleth", a young man who fakes being crazy in order avenge his father's murder. FAMILY ISSUES
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