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William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Lecturer: Audrey Tinkham April 13, 2004. Themes in Hamlet. Fortune, Fate, Providence Impossibility of Certainty Mortality Complexity of Action. Revenge Religion & the Otherworldly Disease and Corruption Appearance vs. “Reality”.

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william shakespeare s hamlet prince of denmark

William Shakespeare’sHamlet, Prince of Denmark

Lecturer: Audrey Tinkham

April 13, 2004

themes in hamlet
Themes in Hamlet
  • Fortune, Fate, Providence
  • Impossibility of Certainty
  • Mortality
  • Complexity of Action
  • Revenge
  • Religion & the Otherworldly
  • Disease and Corruption
  • Appearance vs. “Reality”
hamlet act i
Hamlet, Act I
  • Scene 1: The Ghost, the setting & context
  • Scene 2: Claudius, Gertrude, & Hamlet
  • Scene 3: Laertes, Ophelia, & Polonius
  • Scenes 4 & 5: Hamlet and the Ghost
hamlet act ii
Hamlet, Act II
  • Scene 1: Polonius and Reynaldo
  • Scene 2:
    • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
    • Polonius, Gertrude, and Claudius
    • Polonius and Hamlet
    • Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern
    • Hamlet and the Players
hamlet act iii
Hamlet, Act III
  • Scene 1: The plot thickens; Hamlet and Ophelia
  • Scene 2:
    • Hamlet and the Players
    • Hamlet and Horatio
    • Hamlet and Ophelia
    • The Play within a Play
  • Scene 3: Claudius’s Prayer
  • Scene 4: Hamlet & Gertrude; Polonius slain
hamlet act iv
Hamlet, Act IV
  • Scene 1: Disposing of the corpse
  • Scene 2: Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildlenstern
  • Scene 3:
    • In search of the corpse
    • Hamlet and Cladius
    • Hamlet departs for England
hamlet act iv1
Hamlet, Act IV
  • Scene 4: Fortinbras marches; Hamlet reflects
  • Scene 5:
    • Ophelia’s “madness”
    • Laertes “storms” the castle
    • Laertes and Ophelia
  • Scene 6: Letter from Hamlet re: pirate ship
  • Scene 7:
    • Cladius and Laertes conspire
    • Ophelia dies
hamlet act v
Hamlet, Act V
  • Scene 1:
    • Clown and gravedigger
    • Hamlet and Yorick
    • Ophelia’s burial
  • Scene 2:
    • Hamlet explains his trick
    • Osric invites Hamlet to fencing match
    • Madness and mayhem ensue
    • Fortinbras claims Denmark
critical perspectives
Critical Perspectives

We are now come to a scene which I have always much admired. I cannot think it possible that such an Incident could have been managed better, nor more conformably to Reason and Nature. The Prince, conscious of his own good Intensions and the Justness of the Cause he undertakes to plead, speaks with that Force and Assurance which Virtue always gives, and yet manages his Expressions so as not to treat his Mother in a disrespectful Manner . . . . And his inforcing the Heinousness of his Mother’s Crime with so much Vehemence, and her guilty Confessions of her Wickedness . . . Are all Strokes from the Hand of a great Master in the Imitation of Nature . . . . The Ghost’s not being seen by the Queen was very proper; for we could hardly suppose that a Woman . . . Could be able to bear so terrible a Sight. (George Stubbes, 1736)

critical perspectives1
Critical Perspectives

The queen was not a bad-hearted woman, not at all the woman to think little of murder. But she had a soft animal nature, and was very dull and very shallow. She loved to be happy, like a sheep in the sun; and, to do her justice, it pleased her to see others happy, like more sheep in the sun. She never saw that drunkenness is disgusting till Hamlet told her so; and, though she knew that he considered her marriage “o’er-hasty,” she was untroubled by any shame at the feelings which had led to it. It was pleasant to sit upon her throne and see smiling faces round her and foolish and unkind of Hamlet to persist in grieving for his father instead of marrying Ophelia. [She is] genuinely attached to her son (though willing to see her lover exclude him from the throne); and, no doublt, she considered equality of rank a mere trifle compared with the claims of love. The belief at the bottom of her heart was that the world is a place constructed simply that people may be happy in it in a good humoured sensual fashion. (A. C. Bradley, 1904)

something is rotten in the state of denmark
Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark
  • Foreshadowings: I.i.69-83, 116-129
  • “Unweeded garden”: I.ii.133-37
  • “They clepe us drunkards”: I.iv.17-38
  • “Smiling, damnèdvillain”: I.v.106-10
  • “I lack advancement”: III.ii.335-43
  • “Those many many bodies”: III.iii.8-23
  • “Through the guts of a beggar”: IV.iii.19-32
  • “‘Th election and my hopes”: V.ii.57-70
hamlet s issues
Hamlet’s “Issues”
  • What troubles Hamlet? I.ii.129-59
  • “Unmanly grief”: I.ii.87-97
  • “What an Ass am I!” II.ii.549-88
  • “A consummation devoutly to be wished”: III.I.57-91
  • “When honor’s at the stake”: IV.iv.33-67
  • “Our indiscretion”: V.ii.4-10
  • “Let be”: V.ii.207-22
hamlet ophelia
Hamlet & Ophelia
  • What transpires in their relationship?
    • I.iii.29-44, 100-35
    • II.ii.182-86
    • III.i.89-164
    • III.ii.107-126
  • Ophelia’s “madness”:
    • IV.v.46-74
hamlet in performance
Hamlet in Performance
  • In preparation for the next two classes, make a few notes for yourself on how you stage the following scenes in your mind’s eye. (How you stage them depends, of course, on how you interpret them):
    • Hamlet and the Ghost
    • Ophelia and Polonius
    • Hamlet’s soliloquy in III.i
    • Hamlet and Ophelia
    • Hamlet and Gertrude
    • Scenes concerning Fortinbras