William Shakespeare emerges as a playwright and poet
Starts as an actor
Eventually becomes a financially
successful playwright who owns a controlling interest in his own theatre (The Globe)
Elizabethan Theatre I
If you were a writer during this period and wanted to tell a story, you either:
wrote a long narrative poem
Shakespeare did both, but he
made his real money investing in the theatre
The majority of plays were written
mostly in verse (poetry)
Plays appeared in many genres
Elizabethan Theatre II Day performances, bearbaiting Roles were played by male actors, which means boys were taking on the parts of women Little scenery was used; plays were not concerned about realism or consistency
Jacobean Theatre Theatre continues much the same as it was in the Elizabethan Age Revenge tragedies like Hamlet become very popular
The Tragedy of Hamlet, I A revenge tragedy, possibly written in 1602 & published in 1624. Characters:
Ghost of Old Hamlet – Former king, Hamlet’s father
King Claudius – Hamlet’s uncle and stepfather, Gertrude’s husband
Queen Gertrude – Hamlet’s mother, widow of Old Hamlet, married Claudius just before the start of the play
Hamlet Gertrude and Claudius Hamlet and Ghost
The Tragedy of Hamlet, II More Characters:
Polonius – Advisor to King Claudius
Laertes – Son of Polonius, attends university in France, returns home for a funeral
Ophelia – Daughter of Polonius, probably somewhere between 14 and 19 years of age
Horatio – Hamlet’s best friend, visiting from university
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – childhood friends of Hamlet
Ophelia and Polonius Laertes
Hamlet: Important Plot Points Imagine you are Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, maybe just 16 years old…
Your father is an incredible king, a military hero whom you adore.
You are closer to your mother Gertrude, a beautiful queen who raised you herself, than to anyone.
Hamlet: Important Plot Points, I
When you are away at school the King suddenly dies…
Arriving home for the funeral, you discover that your uncle Claudius, the new king, has married your mother!
Soon, a ghost appears who looks just like your father and says that your uncle killed him! The ghost, your late father, demands that you avenge his murder.
Hamlet: Important Plot Points, II
But your uncle is now the King and it is medieval times…
The King is the government
No courts, attorneys- no legal options!
Mother can’t help- wives must obey their husbands
Claudius is not a bad king: he’s popular among the people.
Devil = force out in the world ready to deceive and tempt one to sin. Is the ghost a devil, a demon sent from Hell?
Hamlet: Questions to Consider, I Why does Hamlet not succeed his father on the throne?
In Denmark at this time, the government is not a hereditary monarchy but an elective one.
A council selected Claudius as successor, not Prince Hamlet.
While Hamlet seems to have accepted this situation, we can imagine it could cause friction between Hamlet and his uncle.
Hamlet: Questions to Consider, II How old is Hamlet?
Prince Hamlet has been recalled from university in Wittenberg (Germany) for his father's funeral. Is Hamlet somewhere between sixteen and twenty (the appropriate college age for a male noble of his time),
or is he thirty (a graduate student)? This age question presents a problem: Is Hamlet more of an adolescent, teenager? That age makes some of his behavior make more sense.
Hamlet: Motifs(Repeated Ideas, Words, Images, Symbols) Revenge Poison Suicide/Death (Dust/Dirt) (Violent) Sexual Imagery and Oedipus Myth (Incest) Imagery of Weeds/Compost & Sterility Thinking/Contemplation (Inaction) vs. Acting/Action (Philosopher vs. Warrior) Appearance/Illusion vs. Reality Certainty vs. Uncertainty Vs. Trust vs. Distrust Honesty/Truth vs. Dishonesty (Deception/Spying) Misogyny (Note: Hamlet’s hateful attitude toward women as exemplified in his treatment of Ophelia and Gertrude)
Uncertainty, Insecurity, Change, I Hamlet raises these existential questions:
In a world of uncertainty, in a world where things are not often what the appear to be, what & whom can I trust?
Who am I?
What is my purpose? How can I know?
Uncertainty, Insecurity, Change, II Religious Turmoil, uncertainty
The division of the church in England divided the people into Catholics & Protestants.
Assassination attempts on Elizabeth & James resulted in cruel and brutal retaliations.