The Oxford Shakespeare Hamlet
ISBN 0-19-283416-9

Hamlet Notes
All notes obtained here have been retrieved from “The Oxford Shakespeare Hamlet” for note intentional purposes for school work only. Nothing obtained has been plagiarised or been misused Hamlet himself is part of the consciousness of the modern world in more intimate/familiar way His experiences come closest to and impinges most intimately on that of men in general -> representative quality Universal appeal Most personal of the plays → conveys a sense of the playwrights involvement with his own creation Central soliloquy‟s lead us to believe hamlets sentiments reflect closely to Shakespeare‟s o To be or not to be o Tired with all these for restful death I cry Strong temptation to take Hamlets views on the art of acting as a faithful reflection of his authors as the very length of the tragedy almost invites one to speculate that Shakespeare composed it Practical limitations Pronounced overtones of the personal Hamlet = timeless o Preoccupation with the dilemmas and the uncertainties that are the heart of life and simultaneously very much of his own time Within the framework of its author career as a practising dramatist Most fitting therefore should have been composed at almost the exact midpoint of its authors career as a playwright

Exactly when hamlet was composed depends in part on which Hamlet is under consideration… the1st, 2nd or 3rd Quarto Shakespearian Hamlet been written and performed by 26 July 1602 Allusions within the tragedy itself suggest a further refinement is possible o Polonius after admitting with pride that he did some acting in his student day replies to the prices question. “and what did you enact?” with “I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed I’th’ Capitol. Brutus killed me.” o Answer appeals to serve 3 different purposes at one and the same time o Acts as advertisement for Julius Caesar o Reminds the audience -> Burbage/Brutus killed Heminges/Caesar so Burbage/Hamlet will kill Heminges/Polonius o Hamlet written soon after Julius Caesar A tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind Recognising the impossibility of his holding his tongue after he has heard the Ghosts story, he adopts the role of fool/madman in order to attract the Kings attention and lead him to show his hand o “a little more than kin, and less than kind” soliloquy At the same time this role playing will also serve to lure the King away from any suspicion of the great secret hamlet has learnt from the ghost Hamlet belongs to a time when old certainties and long established ways of thinking began to collide with new doubts and revolutionary modes of thinking Court where hamlet unfolds is a Renaissance court -> seat of centralised personal government Preoccupation with statecraft, intrigue assassination, poisoning and lechery Embodiment of Renaissance ideal of I'huomo universale "th'expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mould of form" (3.I.I 53-4)
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dberetov Own direct observation of the world he lived in At the time so many of Shakespeare's other plays hamlet underwent no radical alteration after the restoration. Above all is the hero‟s struggle with and reflections on the world in which he finds himself Page 2 of 3 .a. Claudius and hamlets death at the end o “Of carnal.k. in this upshot. to the elementary desire to find out what will happen next in the remitting battle of wits between the two „mighty opposites‟. more than revenge that still provides the basic structure but also showing intense human relationships that are created and explored. casual slaughters. 'improved' I. It was not 'adapted' . It was however very heavily cut. works out a plan or speculates on the human condition in general → basic appeal is to the curiosity of the audience. Polonius accidental murder) The play ends in the complete destruction of the two houses that are concerned and not simply the deaths of the villain and the hero Original hamlet story transformed into something different. bloody. Nor is all Plays main concern is death o Begins with combat between old king of Denmark and old king of Norway in which is latter killed o Murder of old king of Denmark by brother Claudius o Ophelia‟s death o Polonius‟s death o Gertrude. Of accidental judgements. significant and positive experience that means something even though or perhaps because that „something‟ admits of no ready or simple definition → Hamlet despite its concerns with death is bursting with life This linguistic inventiveness is more than a matter of vocabulary alone → phrases and even whole sentences have become indispensable parts of the language we speak o “frailty.2. the tragedy comes over to us as an intensely exciting. dreary.334-8) Though the play is full of dismal. hamlet and the king as the advantage shifts from one to the other and back again. senseless chain of activity. thy name is woman” o Drawing heavily on the proverb lore o Issue of revenge alone seems and improbable matter Not so much the concern with the duty of revenge as such but the situation within that duty arise o Dutiful son who idealizes his dead father o Fratricidal usurping uncle o Adulterous incestuous mother Complex situation o Born of political ambition coupled with unbridled sexual passion o Rich in its potential for conflict o Involving moral decisions of an extremely difficult/distressing kind for the son o Love/distrust/rejection (Ophelia) o Further revenge (a. And.” (5. it's storyline was left untouched. Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause. nothing more than yet another instance of the wickedness and folly of mankind which is all to familiar. and unnatural acts. purposes mistook Fallen on the inventor’s heads. Laertes. At many 'coarser' expressions were 'refined' and 'modernised' Play full of riddles and paradoxical enigmatic statements Time after time the action pauses while the hero gives vent to his feelings.

dberetov These additions/alterations make and shift the focus from the traditional revenge tragedy posed → extremely complicated situation demands a full and detailed exposition unlike other revenge tragedies that where more straight forward Prince‟s consciousness is play‟s centre → motives and concerns nagging away at him (5. A regenerate spirit? A tragedy of thwarted love as well as a tragedy of revenge Hamlet behaviour around Ophelia strange as his appearance conforming to that of the distraught lover of convention → plainly adopted an antic disposition but more than mere play acting seems to be involved Unfortunately Hamlet bents his bottled up emotions upon Ophelia It is Ophelia‟s tragic fate to pay the price in pain and suffering for Gertrude‟s sins and for the corrosive cynicism those sins have engendered in Hamlet The songs she sings are the effusions of a diseased mind but there are no madness in them Hamlet leaves his mothers closet a saner and more mature man than he was when he entered  from this point onwards he is no longer preoccupied with the frailty of woman and ultimately by the side of Ophelia‟s grave comes to acknowledge his own love for her and to see it as something positive and good Claudius with ever material advantage on his side is desperately afraid Page 3 of 3 .2.64-71) The play invites speculation Shakespeare subtly combines learned theological ideas about ghosts and their place of origin with popular beliefs and superstitions concerning then The ghost‟s precise nature left mysterious and uncertain.

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