Intro to Hamlet Info on the Play Full title: The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Genre: tragedy Written: between 1600-1602
Setting: late medieval period (1300-1500s), Denmark Shakespeare used versions of a floating legend of Prince Hamlet to complete the play. About the Setting: Denmark
Scandinavian country in northern Europe Ruling system is a constitutional monarchy Language is Danish (close to Norwegian and Swedish)
Medieval Denmark Before the time period of the play, Danes were considered Vikings (Anglo-Saxons) During the late medieval period (1300slate 1500s), country was ruled by powerful kings and the nobility Controlled the Baltic Sea Religion was originally Catholic (presently
Lutheran) Kronborg Castle Major Characters Prince Hamlet Son of Old King Hamlet and Gertrude
Visited by fathers ghost who asks him to seek revenge for his murder Driven by revenge, hatred Is extremely philosophical and moody Learns to be disgusted by women May have had an Oedipal Complex
Old King Hamlets Ghost Visits the castle Elsinore around midnight, seeking Hamlet Wants Hamlet to get revenge for his death Claudius
Brother of Old King Hamlet Uncle/stepfather of Hamlet Husband to Gertrude
Killed Old King Hamlet Gertrude Wife of Old King Hamlet; now wife of his brother, Claudius Was seduced into marrying Claudius by lust and gifts
Defined by her need for affection Extremely dependent on men Polonius The Lord Chamberlain (responsible for all court functions) Forces Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet
Father of Ophelia and Laertes Ophelia Daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes Is completely dominated by the men Goes insane
Laertes Son of Polonius Brother of Ophelia, whom he seems to have an incestuous lust for Wants to kill Hamlet for what happens to his sister
Horatio Hamlets best friend First to tell Hamlet about the ghost of his father Themes Uncertainty
The play shows how life is built upon uncertainties Some questions that arise: Can we believe in ghosts; Can we for certain know the details of a crime that has no witnesses; Can we know whether our actions will have the results we want them
to have Themes Reasonable, Effective Action The question that comes up is whether or not actions can really be reasonable, since emotions are almost always involved.
Revenge Is revenge justified? Is it really ok to kill in revenge? Themes Death
Hamlet is obsessed with death after his father dies; he becomes driven to kill Claudius; he ponders suicide; the death of several characters in the play Themes Incest and Incestuous Desire
-Claudius and Gertrude -Hamlets fixation on Gertrudes sex life and w/ her in general -Laertes fear of Ophelias relationship with Hamlet and the loss of her virginity Themes
Misogyny (hatred of women) -Hamlet turns misogynistic after his mother jumps into bed with Claudius -Hamlet tells Ophelia to become a nun so that she does not become corrupted by sex -Views women as weak and easily
persuaded Symbols The only physical object used as a symbol is Yoricks skull Represents the inevitability of death and decay of the body
Also shows that no matter who we are, we all end up the same: as dust
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