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Transcript of Hamlet
*With what do they introduce the play?
Acts II and III
David Tennant's Hamlet, I.1 (0-4, 10-17)
Acts I-IV: Review and Discussion
Act IV (and III)
2. Virtue, Madness: What do you think of Hamlet and why?
a. See his conversation with Gertrude
b. See Ophelia's songs
"By the Lord, Horatio, this three years I have took note of it, the age is grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls his kibe" (V.1.130).
Act V, Scene 1
Who speaks to class difference and how? What complaints arise?
Act V (IV, III, II, I)
Elsewhere in the text, the play broaches the issue of class difference: for example, Laertes's advice to Ophelia.
The question becomes, Is the play subversive, radical, conservative on the issue of class difference?
Workshop: Interpretation and Performance
1. Distribute roles, and read out loud your assigned passage. (10 min)
*What questions of why or what come up? (5 min)
*How does your assigned passage resonate with the issue of remembrance? (5 min)
3. Decide how you will use the stage, how characters will approach one another, how the actors will modulate their voices, and so on. (10 min)
-Is Laertes "splenitive and rash" or justified?
-Is Hamlet mad? Suicidal? Clear and decisive?
-Who is on whose side, really, finally, and why?
Perform. (5 min)
Let's assess Fortinbras's description of Hamlet as a man who "was likely, had he been put on,/To have proved most royal" (380-381).
centuries old material
*traced to Norse sagas
*included in Grammaticus's Historiae Danicae
*possibly continued by Shakespeare himself in an Ur-Hamlet from the 1590s
*"labyrinthine ironies of human purpose and human error"
burlesques, satires, novels, films
*revenge: platform for "insoluble questions," for inexplicability and ambiguity
*wild justice, corrective wrong
*what is the past?
*what does it demand, force?
*how is its effect on the present?
*deceit "as artistry" or "threat"
*truth < falsehood
While the play is interested in knowledge--its limits, its moorings, its objects, sites, and processes--it is too simple to say that "the play portrays Hamlet's quest for self-knowledge..." (1343).
1. Skinhead Hamlet
2. Hamlet and Ophelia:
*What do we know for sure about their relationship?
*What's our textual evidence?
*Is she "honest" (III.1.103)?
*Is he "indifferent honest" (122)?
*What do you make of their exchanges during the playlet?
*If "[t]his nothing's more than matter" (IV.5.169), what might we glean from Ophelia's songs?
Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes
Similarity of experience and response?
L: (IV.5.130); O: (IV.7.164); H: (IV.4.33)
"What is a man" (IV.4.33)?
Act V: Workshop in the juxtaposition of authorial experience and textual concern
What questions or possibilities arise when we consider Shakespeare's loss of his son, Hamnet, in 1596, and his loss of his father in 1601? Find two passages that seem especially resonant of what we might call Shakespeare's own inward disturbance.
"maimed rites" (V.1.208)
"What ceremony else?" (V.1.212)
criminalization of Catholic rites of remembrance
"Remember me" (I.5.91)
"[T]ell my story" (V.2.330)
How interesting, tragic, that, in remembering his father, Hamlet loses his own life. Why might remembrance be so dangerous?
Scene of skulls: tone?
V.1.70-79, 91-103, 171-205
Thomas More, a Catholic, heard the dead admonishing the living to "remember" them.
-remembrance: prayers, alms, special Masses
-1533, Henry VIII
-1590s: prayer for the dead is illegal
Earlier Catholic doctrine and ghosts: souls come from Purgatory to request help.
Laertes: "What ceremony else?"
-truncation of Ophelia's rites, of the Old Hamlet's rites, of Hamnet's rites
-insufficiency of all remembrance
Why write this scene? What is its place in narrative structure? What characters does it develop?
Direction<Indirection: What connections do you see between scene 1 and 2?
Why give the player so many lines?
What is a woman?
Workshop: The Tonsured Hamlet
1) List words, phrases, or sayings that you might use to condense your assigned act of Hamlet in the way that Richard Curtis does in The Skinhead Hamlet (5 min)
2) Choose the best option from your list and rewrite one scene from the act. (15 min)
3) Perform; give one student the role of announcing the scene and setting (5 min)
How is Hamlet doing?
What is his relationship with his mother like?
"[F]railty, thy name is woman."
And thus do we.../.../By indirections find directions out" (II.1.63-5).
What is Hamlet's relationship with his father like?
"The time is out of joint. Oh cursed spite/That ever I was born to set it right" (191-2).
"I am but mad north-northwest" (II.2.321).
Hamlet's character, Hamlet's quandary
"Am I a coward?" (510).
Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet
Why the surveillance cameras?
What do you think of Tennant's performance? Or how does he "read" Hamlet's character?
Tennant's Hamlet, III.2
Why the camera?
How is Hamlet doing?
Self-reflexivity: Performance is
itself a subject in this play. What might be the thematic assertions made about performance?
"I loved you not" (III.1.119)
"[L]et not ever/The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom" (III.2.386-7)
"A king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar" (IV.3.30).
Richard Curtis's parody