AP English: Literature and Composition
Major Works Data Sheet
Date of Publication:
Biographical information about the author:
William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest writer inthe English language and praised throughout theworld, was an English poet and playwright. Helived from 1564 to 1616. At first, Shakespearewrote mainly comedies, but towards the later yearsof his life shifted to works of tragedy. His playshave been translated into every language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. In Europe he is regarded as the “Bardof Avon," national poet. He lived in Stratford-upon-Avon with his wife and three children, wherehe partly owned a playing companycalled theLord
Historical information about the period of publication:
Hamlet was published in the early seventeenthcentury, London England. This period sparkeda growth of population, an increase in tradeand commerce, more respect for merchants,the wealthy upper class began building grandhomes and males attended grammar school.Francis Bacon enforced that people should notaccept that a theory is true just because aGreek philosopher stated it. He argued thatcareful observation and experiment wasessential to finding out how the natural worldworks.
Characteristics of the genre:
Shakespeare’s most admired tragedies were writtenin a between 1601 and 1608. In order for a work to be a tragedy, the protagonist must be an admirable but flawed character, with the audience able tounderstand nothing and sympathize with thecharacter. All of Shakespeare's tragic protagonistsare caable of both ood and evil.
Hamlet, the son of the late King Hamlet of Denmark, is the protagonist of the play and is dealing with both inner and outer conflicts due to the recent death of his father. After King Hamlet's death, his brother,Claudius, is given the crown and weds King Hamlet's widow, Gertrude (Queen of Denmark and Hamlet’smother). Hamlet fears that Claudius murdered his own brother to become king of Denmark, and feels betrayedand agitated. Two officers, Marcellus and Barnardo, gather Hamlet's friend Horatio, and Hamlet to see the lateKing Hamlet's ghost appear at midnight. Hamlet claims the ghost informs him that Claudius has murderedKing Hamlet by poisoning him. Hamlet is left feeling more anger than he already felt and plans revenge for his father’s murder.In planning his revenge, Hamlet appears to be acting like a mad man. Hamlet persuades an actingcompany to reenact the King's death before Claudius, in the hopes of causing Claudius to mentally collapseand admit to murdering the King. Though Claudius grows angry, he does not admit to the murder. Hamlet'smother tries to reason with Hamlet after the play, while Polonius spies on them from behind a curtain. Hamlethears Polonius, thinking it is Claudius, and kills him through the curtain. Hamlet regrets the murder when hefinds out it was not Claudius. Claudius then sends Hamlet to England, accompanied by Rosencrantz andGuildenstern. Claudius instructs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that the English kill Hamlet when they arrivein England.While traveling to England, Hamlet finds Claudius’s orders and changes them so that Rosencrantz andGuildenstern are instructed to be killed. After this occurs, Hamlet is taken by pirates who return Hamlet toClaudius for a ransom. Claudius, who has already planned Hamlet’s death, arranges a sword duel betweenLaertes and Hamlet. Claudius plans to again use poison in murdering Hamlet. Hamlet switches swords withLaertes, and cuts and poisons Laertes undermining Claudius’s plan and Hamlet’s mother dies also being poisoned mistakenly. As Laertes dies, he admits of Claudius' evil. Hamlet stabs Claudius and begins to reflecton the many deaths which have just occurred. Hamlet instructs Horatio to share the true story of King Hamlet'sdeath along with
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's deaths to the people. Fortinbras, the prince of Norway,arrives from a conquest of England, and Hamlet's last dying wish is for Fortinbras to be crowned the new Kingof Denmark, and Hamlet dies after achieving his revenge and sharing his wishes.