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Hamlet. Theme “Steadfastness of Purpose” 2010. Health Warning!!!. I got a bit carried away. Again. There is an awful lot here; you probably can’t do it all under timed conditions (unless you are Haider or Hannah or Elise or…ok so you probably all can. Never mind.).

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hamlet

Hamlet

Theme

“Steadfastness of Purpose”

2010

health warning
Health Warning!!!
  • I got a bit carried away. Again.
  • There is an awful lot here; you probably can’t do it all under timed conditions (unless you are Haider or Hannah or Elise or…ok so you probably all can. Never mind.).
  • I would suggest that you certainly need to talk about how the theme is introduced and the final scene but you probably can’t do everything else. You can shorten discussion of soliloquies or even just focus on Act 2, Scene 2.
  • You could also omit some of the points I’ve made about Act 3, Scene four.
question
Question
  • Choose a play which explores one of the following as a central concern: sacrifice,

courage, integrity, steadfastness of purpose.

Show how the dramatist introduces and develops the central concern in a way which you find effective.

question1
Question
  • Choose a play which explores one of the following as a central concern: sacrifice,

courage, integrity, steadfastness of purpose.

Show how the dramatist introduces and develops the central concern in a way which you find effective.

part one
Part One
  • What do we mean by “steadfastness of purpose”
  • staying the same for a longtime and not changingquickly or unexpectedly: a steadfast friend/allysteadfast loyalty.

The groupremained steadfast initssupport for the new system, even when it was criticized in the newspapers.

slide6
What is Hamlet’s purpose?

To avenge the murder of his father by killing Claudius

Does he remain “steadfast” in this purpose?

Em, not really, no! He keeps changing his mind, or PROCRASTINATING.

Does this tie in with Shakespeare’s overarching theme of Man’s ability to reason and make decisions? Can we ever truly know what the right course of action is?

slide7

Your line of argument throughout your essay is that Hamlet, rather than being steadfast of purpose, is quite the opposite: he doesn’t know what course of action to take. Shakespeare is allowing us to explore the idea that is it part of the human condition not to know what to do all the time and for us to be searching for the “right” course of action.

  • You should give examples when Hamlet is clearly not “steadfast of purpose” and explain what this tells us about Hamlet and why he finds it difficult to fulfil his task. You should also explain what Shakespeare is telling us about human nature in general.
slide8
Show how the dramatist introduces and develops the central concern in a way which you find effective.
  • Show how the dramatist introduces…
  • So, how does Shakespeare introduce the idea of “steadfastness of purpose”

When Hamlet first meets the Ghost and resolves to avenge his Father’s death. Initially, we think Hamlet is really going to go for it! At this point he does, indeed, seem to be quite determined.

But

It doesn’t take him long to change his mind. By the end of Act One, Scene Five, he is wishing he wasn’t the one to have to “set it right”

develops the central concern in a way which you find effective
…develops the central concern in a way which you find effective
  • Having suggested that Hamlet, having been given the job of killing Claudius, is not overly thrilled by the idea, we now have to go on and suggest how Shakespeare continues to demonstrate Hamlet’s inability to make up his mind, throughout the rest of the play (develops).
develops the central concern in a way which you find effective1
…develops the central concern in a way which you find effective
  • What are the key scenes in the novel where we see Hamlet procrastinate, demonstrating a lack of purpose?
  • Act Two, Scene Two - The Second Soliloquy.(pages 61-63)

Choose a quotation which demonstrates that Hamlet is aware that he lacks steadfastness of purpose and that he is ashamed of his lack of action. In fact he really gives himself a hard time for not doing it. (quote)

  • But then, ironically, he changes his mind again. Find a quotation to explain why he changes his mind and explain how this helps us understand how conscience or our ability to reason makes it so hard for Hamlet to take action and know what the right thing to do is.
  • Again, Shakespeare shows us that Hamlet is not steadfast in his purpose; at the end of the soliloquy he comes up with another reason for not doing it. He sets himself another obstacle which must be overcome before he can fulfil his purpose. Quote. Again, explain what this teaches us about the character of Hamlet and the theme of knowing what is the right thing to do.
possible next section
Possible next section…
  • Topic sentence saying explaining that the soliloquy in Act 3, Scene One gives further explanation as to why Hamlet finds it so difficult to remain steadfast in his purpose.
  • You should take perhaps one or two quotations from this soliloquy and analyse each one to explain why all of us, not just Hamlet, find it difficult to resolve ourselves on one course of action.
  • In themselves, these soliloquies suggest how reflective and introspective Hamlet is; he is clearly a man of thought rather than of action. This is enough reason in itself that Hamlet cannot seem to carry out the killing of Claudius.
and the next
And the next…
  • Key scene in Act 3, scene 3 when he fails to kill Claudius.
  • It is important to explain the context of this scene (Hamlet has just witnessed Claudius’ reaction to the “play within the play”; he has just sworn to “drink hot blood”; he’s feeling feisty!)

But,

he has the perfect opportunity to kill Claudius immediately afterwards and fails to do it. Why? What does this tell us about Hamlet and what do we learn about the theme of “Steadfastness of purpose”

slide13
Not only is Hamlet not able to remain steady in his purpose but he also acts impulsively throughout the play; this is most significant when he kills Polonius as Polonius hides behind the arras in Act Three, Scene Four.

Hamlet can only act when he acts on impulse/ emotion (not terribly steadfast at all!); he is in a rage and stabs the “unseen good old man”, believing him to be Claudius. You should discuss what this action tells us about the character of Hamlet and go on to further explain how it shows he cannot be steadfast in his purpose as he is has not the character for it.

You can also suggest that another reason that Hamlet Is not steadfast in his purpose is that he is not clear about the motivation for his revenge. Father’s murder? Mother’s remarriage? You could briefly explain that the Ghost comes back to tell H. to get on with it. Mayb eHamlet has yet to kill Claudius because he is not sur ein his own mind why he should do so; what is upsetting him the most/!

slide14
Possibly quote from soliloquy in Act 4, scene 5. Look at your notes. Again, Hamlet berates himself for his lack of action. Once again, he resolves to get on with it.
act five scene 2
Act Five, Scene 2
  • The full development of Hamlet’s character. He is very different since he came back from being at sea; he is more accepting, tries less to control to pre-empt what will happen.
  • Quote to show the change in Hamlet; explain that by the final scene he seems to have found more purpose by thinking less. In this way, he does, eventually manage to fulfil his purpose of killing Claudius and destroying the source of the corruption In Denmark.