Hamlet Learning Objective: students will understand the development of the play including plot, development, and themes.
Act 1, Scene 1: Brief summary • During the changing of the guard in the middle of the night; the soldiers are discussing the appearance of a ghost that looks like the dead King Hamlet dressed in battle gear. • The ghost appears but does not speak to the characters present. The characters speculate about what the ghost wants and what they should do. • They decide to tell Prince Hamlet that his father’s ghost has returned.
Act I-- Exposition • Scene 1 begins with servants– idea of equality and merit of man, appeals to a broad audience. • There are a series of unanswered questions which creates an overall tone of questioning and uncertainty. We as the audience are now questioning everything. • The entire play begins with a dark scene in the middle of the night and set the tone for a tragedy. • Introduced to Horatio (a scholar) and other characters (soldiers). • Keep in mind: Horatio becomes an anchor for reality and reason (as a scholar).
Horatio’s monologue • Establishes: • Setting– Denmark, at a castle… so we are dealing with royalty. 16th century setting– Denmark is Protestant (historical) • Conflict– Prince Fortinbras, son of Norway’s king is seeking revenge because King Hamlet killed King Fortinbras in a duel. • Conflict– King Hamlet is dead • Conflict– a ghost is haunting the parapets • Tone: dark, somber, Gothic, uncertain (is the ghost real?)
Theme: Father and son motif • The story about Fortinbras seeking revenge is important because it establishes father-son relationships and the father archetype– what are you willing to do for your father’s honor? • We will quickly learn that Hamlet must decide whether to seek revenge for the death of his father; Fortinbras situation will parallel Hamlet’s situation and we can evaluate Hamlet’s character compared to Fortinbras (and later Laertes) • Fortinbras is a character foil for Hamlet because he acts with decisiveness which will force us to evaluate why Hamlet delays his plans for vengeance and develops a deeper layer of character development for the play.
Ghost is important!!! • The ghost introduces the idea of uncertainty– the theme of reality versus illusion (insanity) is established. • The ghost indicates that the death of someone was unnatural and there is no closure for the dead. This establishes for the audience that something is terribly wrong and sets the action for the play in motion. • Believing in ghosts is a Catholic notion. Protestants do not believe in purgatory or lingering on Earth after death. The appearance of the ghost would be highly controversial in Shakespeare’s time. This is a questioning of the certainty of the Catholic faith • Protestant Reformation, • King Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s mother, • James I ascension to the throne, publishing Protestant bible
Act I, Scene 2: Brief summary • We are introduced to all of the key players. • Claudius (the new King) gives a speech acknowledging his brother’s death and his marriage to Queen Gertrude. He dispenses royal decisions (showing his immediate authority as ruler). • We are introduced to Polonius and Laertes; another father-son relationship built on deception and spying which becomes a key element throughout the play and gives us another relationship as a foil to compare Hamlet and his relationships. (This also segues into Ophelia) • Claudius and Gertrude want to know why Hamlet is so moody and they tell him to act like a man and get over his father’s death already. • We learn that Hamlet is contemplating suicide and that he feels depressed and deeply betrayed by his mother. • Hamlet’s friends tell him about his father’s ghost and Hamlet decides to go see for himself.
Hamlet soliloquy: • We learn that Hamlet is contemplating suicide, • he won’t because it violates his religious beliefs • this is important in that he will challenge other Protestant beliefs, but suicide is universally taboo in all Christian religions– creating religious ambiguity • Is this a sign of character weakness? Is Hamlet a weak male? • During the soliloquy, we also learn a lot about Hamlet and his perspective regarding everyone around him (including himself) which leads to character development. • Perceives his mother as deceptive: generalized to all women. • Views himself as weak, ineffective, self-doubt • Establishes Claudius as the antagonist/villain
Themes established through character development • Gender roles: • Male archetypes: • Hamlet: First words are an aside; Hamlet is emotional and very moody. He has a dark humor. • He is indecisive, introverted, intellectual, Typical Protestant son. • He idolizes his father and is struggling with his father’s death. • He resents Claudius and his mother’s marriage. He feels betrayed by his mother, and his family. • Hamlet is not considered “manly” because he is more intellectual and emotional. (side note: we do not ever really know how old Hamlet is… 15-30). • Intelligence versus action. What if he acts hastily and he is wrong or mad? State consequences larger than the individual • Compares self to Hercules (not): lacks self-esteem and self-worth. Establishes self-doubt before Hamlet’s journey.
Male archetypes: Claudius: • Traditional manliness: arrogant, bold, very masculine and aggressive. • Direct contrast to Hamlet. • His opening monologue establishes his authority and his determination to move beyond his brother’s death and deal with Fortinbras. • Comparison to satyr suggests that no one is who they seem to be (appearance v. reality). • Father archetype: Antithesis • Not sympathetic or nurturing to Hamlet. • Focuses on state business. • Can be compared to King Hamlet (ghost). • Typical Shakespeare father– unreliable, unsympathetic • Shakespeare’s son had recently drowned in real life.
Themes established through character development • Female archetypes: • Queen Gertrude: antithesis of a mother archetype, cold in tone, self-serving, and clueless, sexualized and simple. Happy over her wedding to Claudius and tells her son to get over father’s death. Establishes a conflict with Hamlet’s overgeneralization of his attitude towards women. • Mother archetype; Gertrude is not a good mother and is the antithesis of a nurturing mother. Gertrude is unnatural and expands a tone of unnaturalness to the play. • Compared to Niobe (allusion): 2 levels of analysis • Foil to Ophelia introduced later. • Contrast to Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth is recently dead)? • Acceptance of death: Is Hamlet weak because he loved his father and is mourning him? Should Hamlet have gotten over it after only a few months?
Themes continued: • Religious conflict and History lesson • Protestant Reformation (Wittenburg, Germany– Same place as Hamlet’s school): Martin Luther hammered the 95 Theses to the door of the Catholic Church demanding changes and an elimination of corruption. 1st challenge to the authority of the Catholic Church, establishment of Protestant faith. Rejected ideas of purgatory as superstitious; minimized authority of the church in daily life. • King Henry VIII, wants to divorce his wife. Catholic Church denies the divorce; King breaks away from Church and establishes the Church of England under the Protestant banner and himself as head of the Church. Throws country into religious civil war. • 2 issues: Purgatory and ghosts, Levirate v. Incest which will be addressed again in 1.5
Act 1, Scene 3: Brief Summary • We are introduced to Ophelia (sister of Laertes, daughter of Polonius, girlfriend to Hamlet). • Laertes is saying goodbye to his sister as he gets ready for school. He tells his sister that Hamlet will never marry her and only wants to have sex with her. He cautions Ophelia to protect her virtue because it defines her value. • Polonius shows up and dispenses with advice to his son as he begins his journey; then he questions his daughter about her relationship with Hamlet and reinforces her need to protect her virtue.
Ophelia: Character Development • Ophelia is important because she is a foil to Queen Gertrude • will be used to illuminate gender biases and Hamlet’s unnatural relationship with his mother. • Ophelia is warned to guard her virtue and not engage in sexual acts or her value will diminish. This is a direct contrast to the sexuality of the Queen who is overtly sexualized throughout the play suggesting we should question the queen’s morality and value. • Ophelia shows sassiness in her conversation with her brother because she declares he is a hypocrite engages in premarital sex with girls whose virtues should be protected. • This highlights the role of women in Shakespearean society: • Women have no social rights; property of men • Value is measured by virtue and dowry; what can they bring to an arranged marriage • Love is irrelevant and a “female” emotion • This forces us to consider sexuality, morality, innocence, family rights, etc. • Ophelia will be manipulated and used to manipulate Hamlet, suggesting that she has no rights or will of her own within society (especially when her dad tells her to break up with Hamlet and then uses her to spy.)
Polonius: parallel to Claudius-- • Polonius offers his son advice “This above all, to thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” (Act 1, Scene 3) • Suggests Polonius believes in truth and honor: behavior is contradictory and hypocritical (continues this theme introduced by children). • Reveals he was spying on his children because he knew about the conversation about Hamlet. • Will later send spies to watch his son. • Tone is different than his conversation with Ophelia; gender roles. This introduces the themes: • Privacy vs. spying which is pervasive throughout the entire play. Everyone is spying and watching everyone else (including us as the audience watching the play; so everyone is playing a role assuming they are being watched; therefore what is real? • What information can be trusted? Can we trust what people are telling us as the audience? (Hint: if Horatio is there, it is reliable… otherwise, you decide). • This pushes (plot development) Hamlet throughout the play as he is manipulated, watched, and “handled” and he is forced to question who he can trust (tremendous pressure).
Act 1, Scenes 4 and 5: brief summary • Hamlet confronts his father’s ghost at midnight. • He goes with the ghost even though his friends beg him not to go. • Meanwhile, Claudius is inside having a party. • The ghost reveals that Claudius poisoned him and demands that Hamlet seek revenge for his death. • Ghost reveals that he believes the affair between Claudius and Gertrude started before his death. • Hamlet swears he will avenge his father. • Hamlet forces his friends to swear to secrecy and sets his plan in motion by telling his friends he may act strange in the near future.
Scene 4: Questions, questions: Technique of questioning • Just like the opening scene (and any scene with the ghost), this scene begins with questions (what time is it? And more). • These questions establish a tone of uncertainty and hesitation (lack of clarity) that is very important. • We are dealing with the Gothic, supernatural ideas of the witching hour (similar to Hawthorne). Anything can happen, but what is real and what is imagination (remember the witch on my porch). • Expansion of religious discussion from earlier scene. • Despite being Protestant, Hamlet accepts the presence of the ghost (and it appears others can see it too). • Is this acceptance of the ghost Hamlet’s acceptance of his father’s death, but lack of closure over death? • Does this scene actually reflect Hamlet’s fears of life after death? What happens after we die? Do we go to heaven? Do we go to purgatory? Do we just disappear? Hamlet wants to know why we are afraid of death? Does he go with the ghost to seek answers to these questions or does he genuinely believe it is his father?
Don’t go: other characters: • Horatio (as the voice of reason) questions Hamlet’s decision to go with the ghost and suggests he is afraid the ghost will possess him and make Hamlet insane and establishes uncertainty for the audience. • This introduces the theme of madness more prominently and plays out during the conversation between Hamlet and the ghost: • Is Hamlet already insane which is why he will accept the ghost?
Meanwhile, Claudius is throwing a party; Hamlet is disgusted with the excess. • When Hamlet criticizes Claudius, this illuminates the conflict between the two characters and further shows us that Hamlet does not trust or value Claudius as a king or as a father. • Contrast between values of characters. Is Claudius excessive? Is Hamlet too pious? How does this conflict with the previous scene and the accusations of Polonius and Laertes on Hamlet’s character? • Historically, this criticism of the royal excess is a reflection of the criticism towards the English crown for generations. • Henry was criticized for his excess and abuse of power. • Elizabeth was criticized for her excess and controversial reign. • James I was criticized for his excess and patronage of the arts and writing (specifically the theater). • All three of these rulers are Protestant. Is Shakespeare suggesting something here? What do you think is his purpose for this commentary? Religious, political, other? Or is it just a moment where a young man is being critical of someone he is angry at?
“Something is rotten in the State of Denmark” Marcellus, Act 1, Scene 4 • The diction of this quote is significant: • Something= ambiguous referring to more than the ghost which forces us as the audience to question everything. • Rotten= not just “bad” or “wrong” but decaying. Living, organic. Continuation of earlier statement from Hamlet about unweeded garden. • State of Denmark= more than location, referring to State (govt) of Denmark which is the King Claudius, King Hamlet, Prince Hamlet, Queen Gertrude, Counselors, etc. • Foreshadow of Claudius as the murderer and the deceptions that will drive the plot of the play • Nothing is what it seems and we must be careful to identify what is real and what is a deception.
Scene 5; the talk and learning from the ghost • Is the ghost real? Is the ghost really Hamlet’s father? Is the ghost a manifestation of Hamlet’s thoughts and fears? • The ghost reveals all thoughts Hamlet already feared and revealed during the soliloquy (argument ghost is not real). • If the ghost was really Hamlet’s father, why is he willing to sacrifice his son’s Christian soul by asking him to avenge him by committing murder? • Murder will not release a ghost from purgatory (religious theme) Is this misrepresentation intentional? Religious commentary again? Or just good plot development? • If the ghost is in purgatory, does that mean it is a Catholic ghost? If so, can it be Hamlet’s father who would be a Protestant King? • What does this suggest about the certainty of religion and faith? • Hamlet is aware of this uncertainty and this is one suggestion to explain why he hesitates in his quest for vengeance (delay). • Note: other characters can see the ghost, but never talk to the ghost and are not able to overhear the conversation between Hamlet and the ghost. This will be relevant later.
More Religious allusions: • The ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius killed King Hamlet while the king was napping in the garden. He says that Claudius poured poison in his ear. The king refers to Claudius as a serpent. • Shakespeare makes common allusions to: • The Garden of Eden. • The serpent tempts Eve to break God’s law and commit the first sin which gets them thrown out of Paradise and makes them mortal. • This suggests that Kings are mortal men who can be tempted to sin and/or killed. • Questions divine right… early Enlightenment, Age of Reason • Cain and Abel: • Children of Adam and Eve • Cain kills his brother Abel because he is jealous. • Cain is a symbol of the first murder, jealousy, ambition • Abel is a symbol of martyrdom and the first death. • Cain is cursed for killing his brother • How are these biblical stories relevant?
Queen Gertrude: • During the conversation, the ghost reveals that he feels betrayed by Gertrude’s fickleness by marrying Claudius and further suggests he believes that Gertrude was having an affair before he was killed. But, he makes Hamlet swear he will leave Gertrude out of the situation because he loves her and feels she will face judgment when she gets to heaven. He places the blame on Claudius as a seducer rather than Gertrude • Like father like son? • Insanity and illusions? • Does the ghost really love with Gertrude and want to protect her even in death? • Is this a fair double standard? What does this suggest about archetypes? Is this a suggestion that women are really weak and can not resist moral temptations? • Is the betrayal of a brother (blood) worse than the betrayal of a spouse? • Is this a manifestation of Hamlet’s beliefs and his accusations that his mother’s marriage is wrong? • Is the ghost’s insistence that Gertrude not be harmed really Hamlet’s hesitance to harm his own mother?
“Adieu, Adieu! Hamlet, remember me!”-The Ghost (King Hamlet) -- Act I, Scene 5 • Although a short statement, this command is very significant: • Reflects themes: • Acceptance of death; universal fear of dying; and fear of being forgotten. • Father-son motif: what are you willing to do to honor your father? Pressure on Hamlet to avenge his father. • Somber tone: very sad, father is saying goodbye.
Hamlet declares he will act strange as part of his plan and makes his friends swear (repeatedly) not to tell… • Three concerns (problems): • He repeatedly tells his friends to swear on the sword (why the sword and not the bible?) • Hamlet shows us that he is already developing his sense of paranoia and he doesn’t trust the people around him (even though the people immediately around him have seemed reliable, including Horatio) • The ghost is demanding that they swear also, but it is unclear whether anyone else hears the ghost (remember the ghost has not spoken to anyone else in the play. Is only Hamlet hearing the ghost? • This sets us up as the audience to dwell in the uncertainty of the entire play. (the fallibility of certainty– performance versus reality) • We will constantly be forced to question whether Hamlet is acting or if his behavior is real. • Is he already mad and in his madness is planning to pretend to be mad even though it really isn’t pretending, but he doesn’t know that because he’s mad?! OORRRR… is this scene the first time Hamlet pretends to madness to establish with “friends” (that he doesn’t trust) that he is unstable creating credibility for the idea that he is already mad?
End of Act I Breathe! We are just heating up. ;)
Act II, Scene 1 • If Act I is all about exposition, what is the purpose of Act II in regards to plot structure? • Act II is very short: only two scenes. Why do you think Shakespeare kept this section shorter?
Act II, Scene 1 • Polonius sends spies to watch his son. • We learn that Hamlet is acting crazy. Ophelia says that Hamlet burst into her room and wept over her hand. He’s been giving her gifts and inappropriate letters. • Polonius tells the Royals that Hamlet is really crazy and says he’s planning on using his daughter to bait Hamlet and prove the crazy.
Beyond the previous discussions • Polonius, spying, deception… blah blahblah. • Ophelia tells us that Hamlet has put his plan in motion… or has he? • Costume change (Hamlet is no longer wearing black)… is it a performance or is he so focused on his revenge plot, he’s getting over his grief? • What about Ophelia? Why is she going along? How will this affect her character later?
Act II, Scene 2 • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern show up. Minor characters, interchangeable… • Betray Hamlet… continued development of madness, pressure, paranoia, who to trust? • Polonius shows up… Fortinbras is under control, his uncle told him to chill… (That’s all it took to get Fortinbras, a character of action to back down from his revenge plot?) • Focus on Polonius!! Tells king and queen about Hamlet’s insanity and gives them inappropriate love letters supposedly written to Ophelia from Hamlet (sexual). • King and Queen are shocked and appalled (and secretly glad Hamlet is showing interest?) • Polonius plots to use Ophelia to set Hamlet up to prove he’s crazy… • Polonius runs into Hamlet. Let’s pause here and talk about this scene. Open your books.
Gross imagery!! • Fishmonger • Hamlet’s playing games with someone who is playing games with him • References to a dead dog rotting in the sun. Asks if Polonius has a daughter- makes a connection between two (calling Ophelia a female dog in heat– babies/pregnant= rot, maggots. • Polonius is trying to determine if Hamlet is really crazy. Hamlet is messing with Polonius… or is he?
Friends… true friends • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive. Hamlet is genuinely happy to see them, until he very quickly realizes they are there to spy on him (they even admit it). • This will be a plot device to push Hamlet over the edge of trusting anyone. • Hamlet learns that actors are coming to the castle. Second part of plan emerges.
Hecuba! • The arrival of the players signals the beginning of the play within the play. • Theme: Performance versus reality– we are all actors performing in our lives. • Character development: Hamlet is obviously literate, educated, cultured because he knows much about literature (everyone who knows about literature is cultured and refined ;) ). • Hamlet asks the leader of the group to recite a monologue from a play. Let’s look:
Twas Aeneas tale to Dido… Priam’s slaughter. • Allusions • Greek tragedy: • Pyrrhus is hunting for Priam • Priam is killed by Pyrrhus while Hecuba (Priam’s wife) watches during the battle of Troy (remember the deceptive Trojan horse thing? • Hecuba is devastated! Describes her anguish. • Makes Hamlet cry! (Important!!) • How is Polonius reacting? • “Murder of Gonzago” plans soliloquy
What does the soliloquy mean? • Self-loathing • (calls himself a rogue, peasant, slave, coward, whore, villain, ass… wait a whore?) • An actor can mourn for Hecuba more than he has mourned for his father (back to the delay question) • Suggests that the actor can never really “show” the depth of despair that he is feeling. • Questions what the actor would do in his position (suggests that Hamlet must play the role of a hero?) • Hamlet is building up to action…. But needs definitive proof of Claudius’ guilt: devises plan. • Murder of Gonzago (aka The Mousetrap)
Act III • If Act I is exposition; Act II is the rising action; what is Act III? What should we be looking for? • Scene 1: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report to the Royals: nothing to report– except he’s excited about the actors • Royals agree to go to the play if it makes Hamlet happy… (awww, does this sound like mean parents? Let’s discuss) • Wait! Claudius and Polonius move forward with their plan to trap Hamlet using Ophelia. Everyone agrees with this plan… • Polonius makes a terrible joke that “piety and devotion are often a good cover for wicked deeds.” Let’s discuss this. • How does Claudius react? (conscience, makeup) • What could this mean?
To be, or not to be– that is the question • Most famous soliloquy! Or is it a soliloquy? • Contemplation of suicide and death? • About death in general? And why we are afraid? • Contemplation of action versus no action? • About accepting consequences? • Trying to decide whether to act against Claudius? Is he really indecisive? • Notice: he is interrupted at the end, we don’t actually know what he was going to conclude! • Does he know Ophelia is there? • Does he suspect that he is being watched? Remember, he was called for so he could “run into Ophelia” • How does this change our understanding of this speech?
Look at the language: • Flings and arrows of outrageous fortune • Arms against a sea of troubles • Bear the whips and scorns of time… • To grunt and sweat under a weary life Interpretations/perspective • Which is more noble? Not what he wants, but what he should choose… difference? • If this is it, why are we here? What’s the point? • He’s doomed if he chooses to live, he’s doomed if he chooses to die– his soul is on the line! Universality • No personal pronouns • Relevant and questioning all humanity • Creates pathos (haven’t we all been there?)
Confrontation with Ophelia: notice it’s the first time we actually see them together! • Ophelia enters and interrupts Hamlet’s deep contemplation. • Official break up: bad timing • Ophelia wants to give Hamlet back letters and stuff (so he did give her something? Hamlet says no– he did not give her anything… she insists… curious…) • Puns intended: honest/fair: Does Hamlet know? • Then Hamlet gets mean! “I did love you once.” HA! I’m lying, “I loved you not.”
“Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?” • (Side note: notice we are now back to back with intense and emotional scenes… what is Shakespeare doing?) • Nunneries were places where pious women went to become nuns. It was also a place where families could send “troublesome” daughters. • Women are breeders of sinners. Notice that this commentary is not solely against women. • Self-loathing: suggests it would have been better if Hamlet were never born at all. Who is he really mad at? • Curses Ophelia’s marriage (remember she wanted to marry him) and says women turn men into monsters. • Again women are terrible; but it’s in the creation of terrible men. Who is he really mad at in this scene? • Accuses women of being dishonest because they wear face paint and deceptive clothing.
Black moment? Wait for it? Don’t decide yet! • Ophelia’s shock suggests that in previous interactions Hamlet was never this cruel or behaved this way so Ophelia believes that Hamlet is truly mad… • Is he mad? • Is he acting because he knows he is being watched? • Is he projecting his anger towards his mother onto Ophelia? • Is he just angry and Ophelia is the target for Hamlet’s black mood. • Notice: Ophelia is genuinely upset to see Hamlet this way. She appears to have truly loved him and is baffled and hurt by his behavior. Yet, she is part of the deception… She blames herself… (uh oh) • (Side note: Notice how blunt and bold Hamlet is acting in Act II and Act III. Madness sets him free.) • This is not enough for Polonius and Claudius… now they will manipulate Hamlet’s relationship with his mother by plotting to have Hamlet talk to Gertrude while Polonius spies.
Act III, Scene 2: The play within the play • Act III begins with preparations for the play: • Hamlet is taking on the role of producer and director. • He tells to the first player: don’t over act the part and make it seem natural because it is very important. • Notice: Hamlet is very bossy! And knows the theater quite well! • Hamlet then asks Horatio to help him with his plan by watching Claudius’ reaction to the play. Notice: he’s asking Horatio (the voice of reason) to be his witness. • Notice what he says to Horatio: Let’s take a look… • He doesn’t trust his own perspective and judgment?
Everyone shows up to watch the play • Hamlet is acting erratic and strange again. • Messes with Polonius and refuses to sit with his mother. • Asks Polonius about theater he performed in college. • Julius Caesar • Historical allusion • Reference to betrayal
Interaction with Ophelia: public vs. private behavior • Hamlet is cruel to Ophelia and talks dirty to her. • “Lady shall I lie in your lap?” … very sexual • Public humiliation: • Everyone is watching them. • Hamlet can get away with it because he’s acting “mad” and is “excused”. • Ophelia can not respond– tries to ignore and deflect: • If she shows she knows what he is talking about, she is a whore, damages her reputation. • Discussion shifts to Gertrude… obsession with mother again. Sarcasm! • Throughout the play, he keeps making rude comments and barbed statements. • And we haven’t even gotten to the play yet. ;)
Let’s talk about the play within the play. • The Performers act out the first scene in the exact way that the King Ghost described it. • Then they perform a dialog between the dying king and his queen where they profess their undying love. • The dying king suggests the queen may remarry • The queen insists she will never remarry • The dying king tells her to be careful with what she promises. • The queen hysterically insists she will remain true • The king dies • The queen is woo’d into marrying her husband’s killer
As the play progresses, Hamlet asks his mother what she thinks. • Her reply: “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” • What does this mean? • What does this imply if we accept that the theater can illuminate truth? • The play continues on a bit more… Hamlet alternates between messing with Ophelia, Gertrude, and Claudius. He’s really enjoying himself! • the pretend king is killed… • And Claudius reacts! What happens? Is this a confession? Or just an annoyed king because of the innuendos? What do you think?
Hamlet believes he has his proof. • He is jubilant and excited (think of the relief of knowing he isn’t crazy and can now justify seeking vengeance and honoring his father!) • Hamlet has a confrontation with R + G. Calls them out for manipulating and lying to him. • Tells G to play the lute like they tried to play him. • Everyone tells him that the king is upset and his mother wants to speak to him. • Hamlet decides he will go see his mother and it’s time to confront her too!
But first: Act III, Scene 3 • This scene begins with Claudius telling R + G to prepare for a voyage to England because it is unsafe now for Hamlet to be “free”. Why is Claudius feeling this way? Because he thinks Hamlet knows his secret? Or because he thinks Hamlet is plotting to kill him like the play? • Hamlet is on his way to see his mother when he discovers Claudius is alone… in the church… praying…. • Let’s read: (pg. 165) line 40 (Notice two soliloquys… Claudius thinks he is alone and is talking quietly to himself – Hamlet can not hear what Claudius is saying. Hamlet is talking to himself and Claudius cannot hear what he is saying…) • Dramatic Irony.
“O my offense is rank” Rotting Denmark, • Allusion to Cain and Abel– religious conflict • Confession: Hamlet does not hear it! • Ear motif vs. certainty of sight? • Hamlet conflicted because vengence will send Claudius to heaven: going to wait until he can catch him in a sinful position: • Focus on mother’s sins again • Murder plan is premeditated • No concern for own soul in plan.
Act III, Scene 4 • Hamlet confronts his mother: Tone of rage! • Notice there is no filter any longer • Role reversal: Child is chastising parent. • Hamlet has crossed into boldness: no more asides or snarky comments. • Gertrude is genuinely confused, shocked and fears for her life. (character development) • Most of Gertrude’s lines are questions: confusion, uncertainty, reactionary (just like Ophelia) • She calls out; Polonius answers… weird… • Hamlet stabs the curtains… thinks he’s killed the king… nope… (how would the king get there so quickly?) • Hamlet is trying to determine if his mother was involved in the plot to kill his father.