Textual analysis 101 knowing the story
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Textual Analysis 101 - ‘Knowing the Story’. Textual Analysis 101 - ‘Knowing the Characters’. Textual Analysis 102… ‘Identifying the Conflicts’. Brainstorm some of the key ideas. What notions are at the heart of the play?. Textual Analysis 102… ‘Understanding Prose and Verse’. Hamlet.

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Textual analysis 101 knowing the story

Textual Analysis 102… ‘Identifying the Conflicts’

Brainstorm some of the key ideas

What notions are at the heart of the play?


  • Firstly, a quick reminder of the key terminology with which you need to be familiar (and able to identify).


‘And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose/Will be some danger’


‘My words fly up, my thoughts remain below’


(Claudius) ‘with all my heart,/It doth much content me’[to watch the play]’

Dramatic Irony

(Hamlet) ‘…the stamp of one defect, being nature’s livery … shall … take corruption from that particular fault’


‘But look, the morn in russet mantle clad/Walks o’er the dew…’


  • and…


‘But look, the morn in russet mantle clad/Walks o’er the dew…’


(Claudius) ‘…Hamlet, my son…’ (Hamlet) ‘…too much in the sun.’


‘Now see that noble and most sovereign reason/Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh’


The Ghost - ‘Be thou a spirit of health/Or goblin damned?’


‘How weary, stale , flat and unprofitable/Seem to me all the uses of this world…’tis an unweeded garden’


Hamlet’s fathers:

Both Old King Hamlet and Claudius expect Hamlet’s loyalty:

(Act I. Sc v): (Act I. Sc ii. Li 86 – 145):

Who IS Hamlet beholden to obey? Why?

Polonius and Laertes:

(Act I. Sc iii. Li 54 – 83):

(Act IV. Sc v. Li 111 – 216):

‘my blessing with thee – and these few precepts in thy memory…’


Explain the expository role of the Ghost – How does he/it inform the audience?

Passage 7

‘Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest’

Passages 2 and 4

‘Let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark… we beseech you, bend you to remain’

Passage 23

‘Let comes what comes, only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father’


Hamlet and Ophelia:

Passage 14:

Is Hamlet punishing Ophelia for his mother’s actions/sins - ’incest’.


Is Hamlet ‘pushing her away’ so that he can fulfil this duty (which he knows will destroy him)?

(Passage 8)

Hamlet and Gertrude:

Passages 15 & 16:

How are we to understand his castigation of his mother?

Is his anger morally charged? Is he acting in defence of the State, or out of personal grief?

And - What is the significance of the Ghost’s reminder?





Laertes’ pro-activity:

Act IV. Scv. Li 135:

“let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged”

Hamlet’s passivity:

Act II. Sc. Ii. Li 590(ish):

“must like a whore unpack my heart with words”

It is vital that we consider the CAUSE of his inaction;

Dithering procrastination?

Noble quest for the truth?

Fortinbras’ pro-activity:

Act IV. Sc iv. Li 48-51:

“…tender prince … with divine ambition puffed, makes mouth at the invisible event, exposing what is mortal … even for an eggshell”

The growth of hamlet
The Growth of Hamlet

Throughout the play we see glimpses of the ‘old’ Hamlet; passionate man of action:

(eg: Act I. Sc iii. Li 87 - )

  • For the majority of the play we witness a melancholic, philosophical Hamlet:

  • (eg: Soliloquies 1 – 6)

“Oh that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self slaughter”

“To be or not to be, that is the question whether tis nobler to suffer the slings & arrows…

“Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio”

“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow”

The (psychological) Growth of Hamlet