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The Deconstruction of Hamlet by Shakespeare
Transcript of The Deconstruction of Hamlet by Shakespeare
Jacques Derrida influenced creation of it through
Of Grammatology (1966)
Response to Structuralism
A literary criticism that emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression (“Deconstructionism” 3).
This can be done using binary oppositions (one cannot live
without the other) (Balkin 2)
“To be or not to be--that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them” (Shakespeare 3.1.57-61).
Hamlet claims that “Claudius is a coarse, sensual man who drinks too much and leads a filthy life with the queen” (Jones 7).
through a deconstructive critique, readers can break down the motives and perspectives of the royal family to find instability within the text, thus proving that there is no definite meaning to the play.
The Deconstruction of
by William Shakespeare
I wonder when
I think I understand!
Do you understand?
Let's get some examples going!
King Claudius is an evil human being, according to the ghost, that looks like the late King Hamlet.
“Hamlet reluctantly agrees
to stay at Elsinore instead
of returning to study at
Wittenburg” (Shakespeare 1.1)
“Of all the days i’ th’ year, I came to ‘t that/day that out last King Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.../Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton/here, man and boy, thirty years” (Shakespeare, 5.1.146-147,164-165).
Balkin, Jack M. Deconstruction. London: Academy Ed.,
1994. Yale. Yale, 1995. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Bhuyan, Rashed. "Deconstruction: Its Relevance in
Architecture (review)." Academia. Academia, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"Deconstructionism." The Basics of Philosophy. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"Deconstructionism." Kids.Net.Au. N.p., n.d. Web. 16
Garrett, J. "Deconstruction Simplified." (n.d.): n. pag.
Cal State LA. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"Hamlet Haven: Gertrude." Hamlet Haven: Gertrude.
N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"An Introduction to Literary Theory." (n.d.): n. pag.
Saylor. The Saylor Foundation. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Jones, Howard M. "The King in Hamlet." Shakespeare
Online. Austen, University Press, 2 Aug. 2011. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Mabillard, Amanda. "Introduction to Gertrude." Shakespeare Online. N.p., 15 Aug. 2008. Web. 16 Dec.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Men are stronger than women
← “common chauvinistic knowledge” (Garrett 2).
Women are stronger than men.
Men's strength is dependent on a belief that women are weak.
Cowboys are the true heroes against Indians/Native Americans
Native Americans are more heroic than cowboys.
"Cowboy heroism" cannot exist without "bad Indians."
, it is unlikely to find major characters within the plot who speak an “absolute truth” since the text's meaning can fluctuate every time someone else reads it, thus there cannot be a definite meaning to the play; this does not mean there is no significant meaning to Hamlet, but its themes are not stable due to the nature of written literature.
The Queen tends to shift blame away from a character and to a different source (O’Brien 3).
-The term “be” is so universal, its restricted, contextual use could stray off into any meaning that it ultimately becomes meaningless in the context of the soliloquy.
-Hamlet's use of the word “noble” could be misconstrued, as his state of mind is all but deteriorated, which could mean that his value system differs from the average readers’. Furthermore, we are unsure if Hamlet aims to end his “sea of troubles” either by committing suicide or killing Claudius.
"There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
Wen down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping broook. Her clothes spread wide...
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death" (Shakespeare 4.7.175-85)
-Although there are implications that Hamlet is somewhere around thirty years old and a college member, there is no concrete foundation that neither solidifies nor denies that he is exactly that age and/or a college
; he could be a professor, for all we know (Saylor Foundation, 14).
-Since there is nothing “outside of the text,” according to
Deconstructionism, the readers can only assume that Hamlet is thirty years of age and indeed a college student, though our modern interpretation of a college student can differ greatly from Elizabethan perspectives.
While Hamlet spends a lot of time emphasizing how he is angry at Claudius and Gertrude for being in an incestuous behavior--an idea further established once he interacts with the ghost of his father, there is actually no sign of incest since Claudius is not related by Gertrude by blood, but by law; this was broken the moment the late king died so they are technically no longer related. The only thing that would be the symbol of Claudius and Gertrude being incestuous would be Hamlet, who is related to both of them by blood (Mabillard 1).
The relationship is additionally not considered evil as well because while many would interpret “adulterate beast” as a sign that Gertrude is in cahoots with Claudius, this is not specified, but rather grazed over in the play. Gertrude remains relatively pure instead of being sullied with intentions--her own possible sins would be not being considerate of her son’s personal feelings.
Hamlet is not an actual hero, but a vigilante, who tries to kill King Claudius in response to the death of his father, thus making King Claudius not the only villain in the text.
to be fact, and therefore you base whatever follows on the acceptance of that as fact.
There is nothing in the text that specifies the details of what occurs in the royal bedroom of Queen Gertrude and King Claudius, undermining the structure of Hamlet's path to revenge (Jones 7).
Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,--
O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power
So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen (Shakespeare 1.5.42-5).