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Intro to Hamlet

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by

Carolyn Herman

on 6 November 2014

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Transcript of Intro to Hamlet

It's just not that simple.
The Problem of the Ghost
The person who tells Hamlet about his father's murder is...his dead father.
Also, the murderer is his father's brother, Claudius, whom his mom has just married.
The Problem of Morality
Is it ethical to kill another human if that human has wronged you?

Is it ethical to
not
kill someone who murdered your father?

If this is all just trickery, will the insanity defense work for you?
Duty to the Public and to Family
OMG, do the people deserve to have a murderer as king?
Hamlet
What's the big deal?
At first glance, the play's central conflict is ridiculously simple:

1. His father was murdered in a horrible manner and has therefore come back from the dead to haunt him.
Hamlet, a prince, is told that Claudius has murdered his father
Bummer.
which would be bad.
You can see why
he's a tad indecisive.
ERGO,
Hamlet should kill Claudius in revenge.
However...
Then you add in those pesky questions:
But OMG, killing the current king would totally upset the balance of the kingdom and we're already almost at war with Norway :(
Gah, triple OMG, Hamlet's girlfriend's (Ophelia) dad is totally involved with Claudius and we don't know if he can be trusted.
Crap.
Unit Themes
Impossibility of Certainty
Revenge
Misogyny
Death
Fear of change
Appearance vs. Reality
Healthy/Unhealthy Relationships
Essential Questions
Whose fault is all this, really?
Do revenge and vengeance provide satisfaction?
How can uncertainties influence our actions?
Can the other main characters (Polonius, Gertrude, Ophelia) be trusted?
Was the Ghost really a demon?
Is Hamlet really crazy?
Short Version:
Scholars dig Hamlet because 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.
Oh man, and Hamlet's mom is totally in love with Claudius now and Hamlet has kind of a weird obsession with that fact.
This means one of three things

2. The devil/a demon is trying to trick Hamlet into committing murder, thereby damning him to hell for all eternity.
3. He's gone totally insane.
1. Why is this play such a big deal?
The play's complexity also supports many different interpretations of the characters' motivations and themes, meaning that we can learn hundreds of lessons about humanity, all in the same play
Also, the language is thunderously beautiful
Full transcript