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New Historicism: Hamlet

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Candace Hart

on 13 February 2013

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Transcript of New Historicism: Hamlet

New Historicism:
Hamlet Niobe Duke
Kyla Foreman
Candace Hart
Tyler Snowden New Historicism Applied Act IV; scene ii Analysis: Act IV; scene ii Analysis: Act II, scene ii Summary Act II, scene ii New Historicism:
Snow White The Literary Theory Thesis Definition Introduction Before New Historicism, literary criticisms ignored a text's relation to history. American and British critics were interested in a new form of criticism that took into consideration the historical aspects of the time period. New Historicism was developed in the 1980s and is focused on recovering lost histories while having a neutral stance on historical events. It tends to draw on the disciplines of political science and anthropology and focus on governments, institutions and cultures. New Historicism analyzes the text while acknowledging its historical context and the role history plays in shaping literature. It primarily focuses on power relationships depicted in texts (hegemony). In Shakespeare's play , New Historicism plays a large role in defining the king's authority and power through the use of hegemony. In the Grimm's tale , the kingdom prospers under Snow White's father, the king. His unjust death puts the kingdom's prosperity at risk when the new Queen (Snow White's stepmother) comes into power. She goes to extreme lengths for supremacy that she, in relation to the play , has the king poisoned in order to take control of the throne. Similarly, she takes authority away from the rightful heir, Snow White. The element of New Historicism used is hegemony, which plays a big part in power struggle portrayed in the story. focuses on the events surrounding the death of King Hamlet. After Hamlet sees his father's ghost and discovers that King Hamlet was killed by Claudius, he begins his journey of avenging his father's death. Throughout the play, Hamlet displays a facade of insanity and is sent to England by Claudius to be killed. Hamlet flees to Denmark and is set to duel Laertes, the brother of Ophelia, and the son of Polonious, the man Hamlet killed. In the end, Hamlet forces Claudius to drink the poison he intended for him, while dying from a wound from Laertes's sword. After all the main characters are dead, Horatio tries to tell the story of Hamlet. Hamlet: "It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark, and those that would make mouths at him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural if philosophy could find it out" (386-391) In the excerpt, Hamlet is referring to his former uncle (Claudius) about how he was ridiculed and spoken poorly of before his father died. However, once Claudius took power, anyone would do whatever they could to get a token of their king (i.e. purchase pictures of him). This exhibits New Historicism by portraying the role of king as a title held by an individual, rather than the actual qualities of the individual. During the time that this was written, the king was seen as a famous icon rather than a person with noble qualities. Hamlet: "The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body.
The king is a thing--" (24-26). In this excerpt, Hamlet reaffirms the idea that the king is nothing but an object. The king's body is but a shell that holds the title to the king's power. Regarding Queen Elizabeth's queen-ship at this time could suggest that Shakespeare saw the Queen as not an actual authority figure but instead just someone that had the title but not the qualities necessary to rule. The fact that he has the ruler in the play be a male instead of the actual female in power at the time also suggests gender played a key role in the underlying meaning of the gender switch. New Historicism is shown in through power relations depicted in the text. During the time the play was written, patriarchy was one of the most common ruling method of sovereign nations. Queen Elizabeth I's rule one surrounded by her title of "Virgin Queen". Her purity is what gave her power and what got her respect. Shakespeare's portrayal of the ruling figure in this play suggests that people only respected them for their titles. Regardless if they had valuable qualities, supposedly the people just followed the person in control blindly. Hamlet Hamlet Snow White Hamlet Hamlet A New Historicist would begin critically reading a novel through explanation of themselves, their backgrounds, and prejudices or environment changes that could have possibly influenced the work. New Historicists would analyze the text in relation to historical happenings and society at that time, along with looking into the way the writer expresses their ideas and opinions in their own writings. During the time this play was written, Queen Elizabeth I (Virgin Queen) was in power. Her title of pureness was what made people respect her. Whether or not she actually owned up to her title was unimportant. Following through with the supposed qualities that came with the title was not as important as the title itself. The gender switch may have been for anonymity, but the core idea of the ruler having no substance emphasizes Shakespeare's dislike for having a matriarchy; Queen Elizabeth I was just a woman holding a powerful title, but in fact had no power at all. Patriarchy was the socially acceptable form of ruling. The concept of hegemony comes into context when the power struggle, both in real life and the play, affect society's view of the person in power and the succession to the throne.
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