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Introduction to William Shakespeare's, Hamlet

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Ali Wortman

on 24 September 2013

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Transcript of Introduction to William Shakespeare's, Hamlet

Introduction to William Shakespeare's, Hamlet
Types of Shakespearean Plays:
Overview of Hamlet: CHARACTERS
Hamlet -
The Prince of Denmark, the title character, and the protagonist. About thirty years old at the start of the play, Hamlet is the son of Queen Gertrude and the late King Hamlet, and the nephew of the present king, Claudius. Hamlet is melancholy, bitter, and cynical, full of hatred for his uncle’s scheming and disgust for his mother’s sexuality. A reflective and thoughtful young man who has studied at the University of Wittenberg, Hamlet is often indecisive and hesitant, but at other times prone to rash and impulsive acts.

Claudius -
The King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle, and the play’s antagonist. The villain of the play, Claudius is a calculating, ambitious politician, driven by his sexual appetites and his lust for power, but he occasionally shows signs of guilt and human feeling—his love for Gertrude, for instance, seems sincere.

Gertrude -
The Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, recently married to Claudius. Gertrude loves Hamlet deeply, but she is a shallow, weak woman who seeks affection and status more urgently than moral rectitude or truth.

Polonius -
The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court, a pompous, conniving old man. Polonius is the father of Laertes and Ophelia.

Horatio -
Hamlet’s close friend, who studied with the prince at the university in Wittenberg. Horatio is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play. After Hamlet’s death, Horatio remains alive to tell Hamlet’s story.

Ophelia -
Polonius’s daughter, a beautiful young woman with whom Hamlet has been in love. Ophelia is a sweet and innocent young girl, who obeys her father and her brother, Laertes. Dependent on men to tell her how to behave, she gives in to Polonius’s schemes to spy on Hamlet. Even in her lapse into madness and death, she remains maidenly, singing songs about flowers and finally drowning in the river amid the flower garlands she had gathered.

Laertes -
Polonius’s son and Ophelia’s brother, a young man who spends much of the play in France. Passionate and quick to action, Laertes is clearly a foil for the reflective Hamlet.

Fortinbras -
The young Prince of Norway, whose father the king (also named Fortinbras) was killed by Hamlet’s father (also named Hamlet). Now Fortinbras wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his father’s honor, making him another foil for Prince Hamlet.

The Ghost
- The specter of Hamlet’s recently deceased father. The ghost, who claims to have been murdered by Claudius, calls upon Hamlet to avenge him. However, it is not entirely certain whether the ghost is what it appears to be, or whether it is something else. Hamlet speculates that the ghost might be a devil sent to deceive him and tempt him into murder, and the question of what the ghost is or where it comes from is never definitively resolved.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern -
Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, who are summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior.

Osric -
The foolish courtier who summons Hamlet to his duel with Laertes.

Voltimand and Cornelius -
Courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking.

Marcellus and Bernardo -
The officers who first see the ghost walking the ramparts of Elsinore and who summon Horatio to witness it. Marcellus is present when Hamlet first encounters the ghost.

Francisco -
A soldier and guardsman at Elsinore.

Reynaldo -
Polonius’s servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes.
Productions of Hamlet:
William Shakespeare was an
English poet and famous play writer
and is known as the greatest writer in the
English language.

Shakespeare’s Comedy Plays

All’s Well That Ends Well
The Comedy of Errors
As you Like It
Love’s Labours Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merchant of Venice
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona

He was born in center England and baptized at a young age in 1564. However, after this time there was not much more record of him until 1582 when he married and then had 3 children
Life and Time of William Shakespeare:
Shakespeare continued to write until at
least 1613, where he later died in 1616
and is buried in the Holy Trinity Church.
- He became apart of the London theater scene.
- his plays began to get published and Shakesp- eare was an actor in his own plays.
Shakespeare’s History Plays

Henry IV Part 1
Henry IV Part 2
Henry V
Henry VI Part 1
Henry VI Part 2
Henry VI Part 3
Henry VIII
King John
Richard II
Richard III

Shakespeare’s Tragedy Plays

Romeo and Juliet
King Lear
Titus Andronicus
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

Shakespeare had seven siblings. They were: Joan (1558); Margaret (1562); Gilbert (1566); Joan II (1569); Anne (1571); Richard (1574) and Edmund (1580)
Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was 18. She was 26 and she was pregnant when they married. Their first child was born six months after the wedding. They had three children together: a son, Hamnet, and two daughters, Judith and Susanna
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets. Which was on average 1.5 play written each year, since he started writing.
Some of Shakespeare's most famous plays include: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Midsummer Night's Dream.
Comedies typically had happy endings - usually seen with the marriage of unmarried characters.
These tragedies usually shows that the protagonist has a 'tragic flaw' that leads to his ultimate destruction.
Overview of Hamlet: SETTING
Shakespeare`s play Hamlet is set in the late middle ages- which is around the 14/15th centuries, or 1300 to 1499.
It is set in and around the royal palace in Elsinore, a city in Denmark.
The main theme in the historic plays, is the loss and gain of power, and the theme of divine right. Shakespeare spends a lot of time discussing what makes a good, wise, and successful ruler in these specific kinds of plays.

Overview of Hamlet: SUB-PLOTS
There are six subplots to the play Hamlet.

These plots include Fortinbras Incursion, Ophelia’s Story, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s story, Polonius’ espial on Hamlet, the Play Within the Play, and Hamlet’s banishment to England.

These subplots are all stories within the play that each have their own tragic endings.

All six subplots have to do with the main character of the play, Hamlet, and his need to know the truth about his father’s death.
There have been over 50 films of Hamlet that have been made since 1990. However, because of the length, almost each one of these films have been shortened drastically and cuts are made. -Branagh`s 1996 version of Hamlet is said to be the only one that did use the entire text.

This presents a serious action and maintains a mood throughout that shows the play's serious intention, although there may be moments of comic relief throughout the play as well.

It also raises important questions about the meaning of man's existence and his moral nature.

It shows interaction between cosmic and human forces if written before 18th century: a god, providence, or some moral power independent of man usually affects the outcome of the action as much as do the human agents.

It implies, in many tragedies, that the protagonist has violated a moral order which must be vindicated or re-established

It also evokes the two emotions of pity and fear: pity by apprehension of , some pain or harm about to befall someone like ourselves; fear by our empathy with an endangered character in the play

Often these plays will have a protagonist / a tragic hero--whose characteristics are:

superior without being perfect
sufficiently imperfect to be believable
encounters disaster through his pursuit of a worthy aim, but in following one idea, he violates some other moral or social law which overpowers him
is a member of a ruling class
has a tragic flaw or weakness which brings about his downfall
has a downfall from his high place in society to a lowly place
The Nature of Tragedy



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