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How Has Culture and Context Influenced William Shakespeare's Hamlet?

English 20-1 IB Individual Oral Presentation

Jonathan Tam

on 14 December 2015

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Transcript of How Has Culture and Context Influenced William Shakespeare's Hamlet?

The Tragedy of Hamlet
Religious Context of The Elizabethan Era
Protestantism was the official religion as Queen Elizabeth I took over the throne.
Hamlet was written at a time in which the English Reformation was taking place. There was tension between the Catholic and English Churches which sparked religious and political movements
People were persecuted if they did not attend Protestant services of the Church of England.
William Shakespeare
renowned playwright and poet born on April 23, 1564 and passed away on his birthday at the age of 52.
lived in Stratford-upon-Avon of the United Kingdom where the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is dedicated to him
his early childhood and education is uncertain in accuracy as there is little to no records or evidence
married Anne Hathway. They had three children, his only son being Hamnet, and two daughters Susanna and Judith.
William Shakespeare's language is known to be complicated, complex and difficult for contemporary society to understand.

Shakespeare uses many well-integrated metaphors, similes, allusions, puns and various other literary techniques to shape the skilled masterpiece play that is produced.
Role of Women in The Elizabethan Era
Women had no way of public education, military and political involvement.
They were raised to be obedient and taught to serve men as it was against religious beliefs to do otherwise.
After marriage, they were expected to raise the children and run the households.
Adaptations of
remains the most produced play in the world.

It is the second most filmed story in the world after
. Disney's
The Lion King
is evidently also based off of Shakespeare's

Also influenced Charles Dickens to write his
The Great Expectations
as well as plays like
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
by Sir Tom Stoppard.
How has the cultural context and setting of Elizabethan times influence William Shakespeare's
William Shakespeare's
Shakespeare changes his writing styles throughout the span of his life.
His life is a division of four periods:
Before 1595 - Youthful liveliness, love and strong sense of imagination (Romeo and Juliet, A Mid-Summer Night's Dream).
1595-1601 - More dramatization, as emphasis on less exaggeration but including a broader insight towards human nature (Henry IV, Henry V, As You Like It).
1601-1608 - Shakespeare's life can be described as being dark and astray, while he is drifting, wandering in search for a greater purpose. It is seen how he begins to portray life as miserable with its many tragedies (Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear).
1608-1613 - Shakespeare's fierceness, tragic and powerful messages appear to disappear as his works become more sweet, calm and soothing. Perhaps this is due to his mother's death and the time, where he recollects her kindness (The Tempest, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale).
The early death of his son (age 11) and significance of the passing of Shakespeare’s father, mother and sister proves to play a crucial role in Shakespeare’s view on death and life.

William Shakespeare’s witnesses of these deaths may perhaps serve to have some connection with the death of Polonius, Hamlet, Gertrude, Laertes and Ophelia.
Another arguable belief is that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet in lieu and to highlight the tension, and pressure of the English Reformation during the Elizabethan Era.
The Tragedy Of Hamlet
Jonathan Tam
Individual Oral Presentation - English 20-1 IB
Shakespeare interestingly uses a literary stage device called an "
" in which the character speaks to the audience while being unheard by other actors on stage. One primary example of this includes Hamlet's first line "a little more kin, and less than kind".
"Women in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man." -John Knox, Scottish Protestant Leader
Old Modern English

Shakespeare adopted many other ideas, stories, songs from older works into his literature. Researchers and professors believe that
was inspired and based off on the
Tale of Amleth
Gesta Danorum
and several other books written by Saxo Grammaticus around 1200 Anno Domini (A.D.).

Scholars are still far from consensus on the truth and existence of William Shakespeare due to lack of evidence. Some experts believe that his plays were written by someone else, such as the Earl of Oxford.
William Shakespeare leaves an everlasting legacy through his thirty-seven plays and one hundred and fifty-four sonnets.
His literary works continue to influence contemporary culture and literature.
Because of his outstanding commentary on human nature, condition, moral decay, truth and life on Earth.
William Shakespeare's Hamlet is influenced through many cultural and contextual factors, a few of which include:
Religious Beliefs of the Elizabethan Era
Arts (Stages and Theatres)
Culture in Elizabethan society
Role of Women in Elizabethan society
Language and Literature
This is evidently seen through characters of Ophelia and Gertrude, as both women seem to struggle with their dependence on men. They are unable to live a life of their own as societal influences pressure them to marry, give birth and raise the children.
, Christian notions and practices are displayed through the acts of repentance, as King Claudius is seen praying for forgiveness.

Protestant ideals are also in place as the after-life and one's mortality are commented on by Hamlet. The idea of Catholic purgatory should be noted as Hamlet believes it is where the Ghost of his father resides.
Bibliography and Citation

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Doubt Thou The Stars Are Fire. Digital image. Https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f7/cd/5d/f7cd5d5a2ea4d7eb88ac1bba1da81f7e.jpg. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
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Halleck, Reuben Post. Halleck's New English Literature. New York: American Book Company, 1913. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2015
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