Uploaded by Ryan Miguel


A Play by William
Key Facts
• Full Title: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
• Author: Will Shakespeare
• Type of Work: Play
• Genre: Tragedy, revenge tragedy
• Time and Place Written: London, England (16001602)
• Date of Publication: 1603
• Protagonist: Hamlet
• Setting (Time): late medieval period
• Setting (Place): Castle Elsinore, Denmark
• Tone: Dark, ironic, passionate, desperate, violent
Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy
• Revenge play popular in English theater from
late 1500s to early 1600s.
• Can be traced back to Roman dramatist Seneca
• Seneca drew the line of action and his ability to
drench the stage in gore
– This appealed to the Elizabethan audience
• Hamlet= intense emotion and physical violence
• Through characters and actions Shakespeare
probes the nature of death, fate, and madness.
The Formula
• 1. A ghost who demands revenge
• 2. Hero disguises himself to get info to justify his
acts of revenge
• 3. Female character goes mad due to grief
• 4. Scheming politician, king, or military leader
murders for lust and power
• 5. Some circumstance delays the consummation
of his plot
• 6. The act of revenge demands the death of the
Shakespeare’s Tragedies
• Most powerful studies of human nature
and literature
• Will’s plays stand as the greatest
achievements of dramatic artistry
• Hamlet, most famous play
• There are 9 tragedies
All the World’s a Stage
• The Globe Theater
– Built in 1599
– Capacity 1,200
– Performances held only in
the day
– Scenery minimal
• Very few props
– Burned in 1613 due to
canon in the production of
Henry VIII
– Rebuilt in 1614
– Burned 30 years later by
– 1997 rebuilt
Royals and Rich sit here
•Some with money sit here
• Commoners and
Peasants stand on
ground for 2 pence
Not Totally Original, But…
• Play based on story of Amleth, 9th century
Danish prince
• French story (1576) by Francois de Belleforest
• Some scholars believe Shakespeare most
influenced by a play about the Danish work
• Play is lost
– How much of Hamlet is really original?????
• Shakespeare’s characters more thoughtful and
• Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most intellectually
engaging play
The Players
Cast of Hamlet
• Protagonist
• Son of Queen Gertrude
and the late King
Hamlet, nephew to
present king
• Student at the
University of
• 30 years of age
• Prone to rash and
impulsive acts
• Antagonist
• Villain of the play
• Newly crowned king of
• Ambitious politician
driven by sexual desires
and a lust for power
• Does show signs of
human feeling
– Love for Gertrude seems
Queen of Denmark
Hamlet's mom
Loves Hamlet
Weak, needs
• Cares more for
status then truth
and morals
• Polonius’s daughter
• Hamlet’s off-againon-again girlfriend
• She is sweet and
• Obeys the men in
her life
– Dependent on the
men to tell her how
to behave and what
to think
• Hamlet’s best friend
• 30 years old
• Studies with him at
the university
• Loyal and helpful to
Hamlet throughout
the play
• Lord Chamberlain of Claudius's court
• Ophelia and Laertes’ father
• Conniving and pompous old man
• Spends much of the
play in France
• He is passionate
and quick to action
• Serves as a foil to
• Ghost of King Hamlet,
Hamlet’s father
• Not sure to trust the
• Hamlet suspects that
it might be there to
trick him into murder
• Why and where it
comes from, never
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
• Think…Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and
• Former friends of Hamlet from
• Summoned by Claudius and Gertrude
to discover cause of Hamlet’s behavior
Fortinbras (Prince)
• Prince of Norway
• King Hamlet killed
King Fortinbras
• Prince wants
• Wishes to attack
• Foil to Prince
Themes and Motifs
• 1. The Impossibility of Certainty– Hamlet questions:
Certain knowledge about ghosts
Ghost- is a friend or a foe
Certain crime facts if no witnesses
Can he know the state of Claudius’s soul by
watching his behavior
• Can we know if our actions will have the
consequences we want them to have
– The play shows us how many uncertainties our lives are
built upon
• 2. The Mystery of Death– Hamlet obsessed with death after his father’s death
– Death tied to themes of spirituality, truth, actions and
– Will death bring answers to Hamlet’s deepest
– Death both cause and consequence of revenge
– Hamlet contemplates suicide- is it morally legit action
in a painful world?
Recurring structures, contrasts, or lit devices that help develop and
inform the texts’ major themes
• 1. Incest and Incestuous Desire
– Claudius and Gertrude
– Laertes and Ophelia
– Hamlet and Gertrude
• 2. Misogyny
– Gertrude’s marriage causes Hamlet to become
cynical about women
• 3. Words and Language
– Hamlet’s difficulty in getting the truth comes from the
slipperiness of the language
– Words can be used to distort truth and manipulate
people (men use words to enhance their power)
Save Room For….
• Ophelia Syndrome
• Fratag’s Chart
• Garden of Evil Reference
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