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Puns and Metatheatre. In Hamlet. Puns. What is a pun?

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Puns and Metatheatre


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    1. Puns and Metatheatre In Hamlet

    2. Puns • What is a pun? • a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic,, metonymic, or metaphorical language. Henri Bergson defined a pun as a sentence or utterance in which "two different sets of ideas are expressed, and we are confronted with only one series of words". Puns may be regarded as idiomatic constructions, given that their usage and meaning are entirely local to a particular language and its culture. For example, camping is intense (in tents).

    3. Puns in Hamlet • Why does Hamlet use puns? • What effect do the puns have on the play and meaning of his words or his intentions? • Read the article on Puns and annotate – star five important sentences in understanding the role of puns in Hamlet.

    4. Turn to Act 5 sc1 • I need volunteer actors: • Gravedigger • Helper • Hamlet • Horatio • Note the puns and humor used in this section and the effect. • Note how Hamlet talk about death in this section and the tone. • After, we will watch the Brahnagh version of this scene.

    5. Metatheatre • What is it? • Play within a play – where the audience becomes cognizant of the fact that we are watching characters watch a play • Cultivates self reflection on the part of the characters and audience • Cultivates catharsis (emotional purging) • Cultivates parody (mocking a technique and style) • Cultivates a microcosm of the theatrical situation and helps us separate reality from illusion (acting)

    6. Role-playing derives from the character not accepting his societal role and creating his own role to change his destiny. • Stuart Davis suggests that "metatheatricality" should be defined by its fundamental effect of destabilizing any sense of realism: " 'Metatheatre' is a convenient name for the quality or force in a play which challenges theatre's claim to be simply realistic — to be nothing but a mirror in which we view the actions and sufferings of characters like ourselves, suspending our disbelief in their reality. Metatheatre begins by sharpening awareness of the unlikeness of life to dramatic art; it may end by making us aware of life's uncanny likeness to art or illusion. By calling attention to the strangeness, artificiality, illusoriness, or arbitrariness — in short, the theatricality -- of the life we live, it marks those frames and boundaries that conventional dramatic realism would hide."

    7. Turn to Act 3 Sc 2 • Hamlet gives advice to the actors on how to act…ironic? • “speak the speech …as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue…do not saw the air too much with your hand…for in the very torrent, tempest and…whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness…be not too tame neither…suit the action to the word…hold…the mirror up to nature to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image… Oh, there be players that I have seen…imitate humanity so abominably…”

    8. Act 3 Scene 2 • We will watch the Branagh version of the play within a play • Analysis of Polonius as acting the traitor Brutus (stabbed soon after this scene, ironically). • Effect of metatheatre in this scene? • Watch how Hamlet acts during the play…is Claudius demonstrating guilt or just frustration at Hamlet’s obnoxious nature? • What do we learn about Claudius in his soliloquy in scene 3?