Hamlet - introduction

Hamlet - the Prince of
An Introduction
 Written during the first part of the seventeenth century (probably
in 1600 or 1601)
 First performed in July 1602.
 It was first published in printed form in 1603 and appeared in an
enlarged edition in 1604.
 One of Shakespeare’s most popular works during his lifetime and
still one of his most performed plays.
 Hamlet is part of an old tradition of revenge plays, and is based on
an old oral legend about Amleth, a prince whose father was killed
by his uncle, who then married his mother.
 The cultural references to Hamlet are too numerous to count
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MavmON1goR4&feature=yout
 Denmark during the late middle ages (circa 1200), though
characters in the play occasionally reference things or events from
the Elizabethan Age (circa 1500).
 Elsingnore – the royal castle
 Tragic Hero
 Hamartia
 Peripeteia
 Denouement
 Resolution
 Catharsis
 Written in blank verse
Tragedy – the
 Prose is use at times
 Rhyme is used
 Revenge vs. Justice
What is the difference between revenge and justice? Is one
more moral than the other?
Does the act of revenge irrevocably change an individual?
Key thematic
questions to
 Action vs. Inaction
Is action always virtuous?
Is is possible to take action in a world where nothing is ever
certain (i.e. morally black and white)
 Fate vs. Autonomy
Do we have control over the shape of our own lives?
Are our roles in life always preordained?
 Appearance vs. Reality
Is deceit a fundamental part of the way society functions?
Is life a series of “parts” that we “act” in order to get by?
Is there a “truth” under all the appearances in our lives?
 Madness
Is insanity just a sane way of reacting to the madness of the
world around us?
Key thematic
questions to
 Loyalty and Betrayal
What constitutes loyalty?
To whom do we owe loyalty? Family? Lovers? State?
What happens when loyalties conflict?
 Old Worlds vs. New Worlds
How does one function when caught between two world
What are the emotional/psychological/physical costs of
this struggle?
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