the tragedy of hamlet prince of denmark
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The tragedy of Hamlet, prince of Denmark. William Shakespeare 1604. Before you Read…. The story of Hamlet was well over 700 years old at the time that Shakespeare wrote it. It first appeared in Historia Danica written by Saxo Grammaticus, a 12 th C Danish historian and monk.

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before you read
Before you Read…
  • The story of Hamlet was well over 700 years old at the time that Shakespeare wrote it. It first appeared in HistoriaDanica written by Saxo Grammaticus, a 12th C Danish historian and monk.
  • Saxo’s story was retold by the Frenchman Francois de Belleforest who included it in his 1576 publication of HistoiresTragiques.
you need to know
You need to Know:

Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most famous, most written-about, most complex play.

Themes of death, corruption, evil, immortality, the nature of man, the search for self-identity, and the making of moral choice all appear in the play and are important for an understanding of it.

why hamlet
Why Hamlet?
  • Hamlet, the character, has always been the chief interest of scholars. A study of Hamlet must include an examination of his melancholy, his indecision, his fatalism, his cynicism, his general disillusionment with humanity, the question of his sanity or insanity, and the revenging of his father’s death. He is a scholar turned courtier, a mourner turned revenger, a lover turned lunatic.
to soliloquy or not to
To Soliloquy or nOt To…
  • Hamlet is full of questions: How should one behave? What should one believe? How can one live in an inherently evil world? How should parents treat their children and children treat their parents? How should one address morality questions such as suicide, corruption, evil, loyalty, and fate?
  • Shakespeare uses soliloquies to develop Hamlet’s character and the action of the play. (There are seven in total.)
and now for revenge
And now for Revenge!

Sir Francis Bacon was a very influential writer in the Elizabethan period (In other words, a contemporary of Shakespeare). In one essay in his book, entitled "Of Revenge," Bacon outlines his argument against revenge. His main ideas in this essay, paraphrased, include:

A man is superior to his enemy if he refuses to take revenge.

A man who focuses on revenge only exacerbates his own suffering. ("This is certain, that a man that studies revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal, and do well.")

People who take revenge end up being haunted by it.

does hamlet seek to revenge or avenge or is it tomatoe
Does Hamlet seek to revenge or avenge? Or is it tomatoe…
  • Revenge can be either a noun or a verb: • noun1 retaliation for an injury or wrong. 2 the desire to inflict such retaliation.

• verb1 (revenge oneself or be revenged) inflict revenge for an injury or wrong done to oneself. 2 inflict revenge on behalf of (someone else) or for (a wrong or injury)— ORIGIN Old French revencher, from Latin vindicare ‘claim, avenge’Revenge seems to stress the idea of retaliation a bit more strongly and implies real hatred as its motivation. The verb revenge is usually used with a reflexive pronoun: He revenged himself on those who had killed his parents.

  • Avenge is only a verb• verb inflict harm in return for (a wrong). — DERIVATIVES avenger noun. — ORIGIN Old French avengier, from Latin vindicare ‘vindicateBoth mean “getting even, punishing someone for having injured you or yours”.To avenge is “to get revenge” or “to take vengeance”; it suggests the administration of just punishment for a criminal or immoral act.
tragedy of blood
Tragedy of blood
  • Hamlet is the best example of a revenge play (written in English) as it is a tragedy. This genre is modeled loosely on the plays of the Roman playwright Seneca. A typical revenge plot would involve:
    • The ghost of the murdered man who seeks revenge and implores/ orders the protagonist to act;
    • Hesitation on the part of the protagonist seeking revenge;
    • Other delays that retard the accomplishment of the act of revenge;
    • Some dissimulation (such as plays within a play and feigned insanity by the protagonist) to deceive the clever, scheming, and villainous murderer;
  • Dramatic scenes of gore and horror, especially during the showdown between the protagonist and the villain;
  • Intrigue and lurid incidents such as adultery, suicide, and incest;
  • Philosophical soliloquies-brutal human impulses are the essential subject matter and it turns into complex, often deeply thought provoking aesthetic experiences;
  • The hero confronts the villain and overcomes obstacles standing in the way of revenge; and
  • Order should be restored at the end.
other themes to keep in mind
Other Themes to Keep in mind:
  • Appearance versus Reality
  • Life as theater
  • Corruption, disease, and death
  • Parents and children
  • Relationship of thought to action
act 1 readers
Act 1 Readers
  • Hamlet
  • King Claudius
  • Queen Gertrude
  • Horatio
  • Marcellus
  • Cornelius
  • Polonius
  • Laertes
  • Ophelia
  • Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
  • Voltemand
  • Barnardo
  • Francisco