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Hamlet
It Begins with a Question
January 11, 2017
Sheila Jones, OLLI South
Introductions
1. What is your name and one sentence of
personal experience with Shakespeare or
Hamlet in particular?
2. What you are most looking forward to in taking
this course?
Purpose – General
• Wrestling with many possibilities is stimulating.
• Arriving at consensus is probably out of the
question.
• Understanding our own human connections to
the themes heightens our enjoyment as the play
unfolds.
• Recognizing the ambiguities guides our
understanding of the director’s/actor’s creative
scope of interpretation.
Purpose – more specifically
• Using your knowledge of Shakespeare’s dramatic style and
conventions to unlock the play’s meaning in new
productions
• Understanding how both the director’s and actors’
interpretations of and decisions about the characters,
themes, and design influence how the play is produced
• Discovering some of the deeper connections and meanings
to gain a richer appreciation of the play and of
Shakespeare’s genius.
• Seeing Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a product of its own age,
but also recognizing that the character and the play remain
relevant to humans across time and cultures.
Slide deleted because of copyright
• This slide contained a 3:18 minute cartoon of
Hamlet as portrayed by the Simpsons. If you
wish to view it, please do a Google search
using the keywords: Hamlet, Simpsons
Getting on the same page
• Shakespearean Conventions – see handout*
• Characteristics of a Shakespearean Tragic Hero
– see handout*
• Tracing images and motifs to unlock meaning
– see handout
• Your mission, if you choose to accept it!?!
• previously emailed
Getting on the same page
Common Sources for Shakespeare’s plays:
Holingshed’s Chronicles
of England, Scotlande,
and Irelande
Two editions: 1577 and 1587
From an exhibit at the University of Colorado,
Aug. 22, 2016. Manuscripts on loan from
Folger Shakespeare Library.
Getting on the same page
Common Sources for Shakespeare’s plays:
Left to right:
• King James Daemonologie, 1597
• Holingshed’s Chronicles
• The Works of Shakespeare –
aka The First Folio, 1623
Getting on the same page
• The REAL Hamlet…more the LEGEND
• Based on 11th Century
Scandinavian legend that
originated from a Norse poem
• Shakespeare used early 13th
century version from Danish
historian, Saxo Grammaticus
in Gesta Danorum.
• Both have very similar plots.
Getting on the same page
• Ur-Hamlet, (alleged). Possible author was
Thomas Kyd • Kyd is best know for
The Spanish Tragedy
• B. 1158 – D. 1594
• Central figure in Elizabethan
drama
• The ghost allegedly added
to Ur-Hamlet
Getting on the same page
Versions of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
No ONE definitive version of Hamlet
The 1st Quarto – “Bad” 1603
The 2nd Quarto, 1604/1605
First Folio 1623 (posthumously)
Taking a
BREAK!
See you in 10 min.
Hamlet, as Shakespearean Tragedy
Hamlet is a play about…
Public Concern Private Concern
Public
Concern
Rainbow = a
symbol of
Peace.
Latin
inscription
Non sine
Sole iris
Means “No
Rainbow
Without the
Sun.
•
C
o
n
s
p
i
r
a
c
i
e
s
•
Public
Concern
•
C
o
n
s
p
i
r
a
c
i
e
s
•
Youthful
face = vitality
and strength
of Queen.
Crown:
Pearls =
her virginity,
Crown = her
position and
power.
Public
Concern
•
C
o
n
s
p
i
r
a
c
i
e
s
•
Eyes and
ears on the
lining of her
orange cloak
= She sees
all, knows
all. Symbolic
of her
intricate
spy network
Private
Concern
Some claim
the death of
Hamnet,
Shakespeare’s
11-year-old
Son in 1596
may have
influenced
his writing
of Hamlet.
•
R
e
f
l
e
c
t
i
o
n
s
o
n
For next week
• Read or watch Act 1 – Last lines…
“The time is out of joint. O cursed spite/That I was
ever born to set it right.”
• Begin tracing your chosen imagery/motif.
• If reading, how do you imagine the characters to
be? If watching the Tennant version online, how
are the characters portrayed?
• Read or watch for the gist of the play – the plot.
Make note of any questions you have to discuss in
class next Wednesday.
Elizabethan World View – the basics
• During Elizabethan times, people believed that
everyone and everything was arranged in a
certain order – a hierarchy.
• It was this order, known as the Great Chain of
Being, that was threatened by new and exciting
discoveries in science and astronomy.
• According to this idea, everything in the world
had its position fixed by God:
– The Earth was the centre of the universe and the
stars moved around it in fixed routes.
– In Heaven God ruled over the archangels and angels.
– On earth there was order everywhere. Society
reflected this order with its fixed classes from the
highest to the lowest – kings, churchmen, nobles,
merchants, and peasants.
– The animals had their own order too, the lion being
the “king”.
– Plant life and minerals also reflected this order.
Among the trees, the most superior
was the oak; among flowers, it was
the rose.
– Among the minerals, gold was the
most superior.
Cherubs
Archangels, Angels
Star controllers of Destiny
Moon
King
Church
Princes
Nobles
Man
Lion
Other Animals
Oak and Rose
Other Plants
Gold
Other Minerals
GodOutsideofchain:Nothingness/chaos
• The Chain of Being served to create social
stability – everyone knew their places on the
chain and interacted with the other levels:
– The people higher up on the chain were
responsible to provide for or care/protect
those below them.
– The people lower down had a responsibility to
obey and serve those above them.
The Chain of Being world view created the
beliefs and values for individuals and the
society of Shakespeare’s time.
• The chain was a transactional sort of system –
“I do this for you if you do this for me”
• If someone in the chain doesn’t fulfill their
responsibility, they are considered to be
“breaking the chain.”
• Any attempt to break the Chain of Being
would upset the established order and bring
about universal disorder.
• The Chain of Being represents the social
order of the time.
• Anything that is outside the chain is
considered to be chaos/nothingness/
madness/evil.
• Therefore, by implication, if the chain
is broken the order in the world is
broken, and it can descend into chaos.
• Nothingness, chaos, madness, evil – all of
these things are outside the chain and are
not considered to be made by God.
*Everything within the
chain is created by God.
*Therefore everything
within the chain is
good.
*Therefore there is no
evil in the chain.
*As evil doesn’t exist
within the chain, it can
only enter if the chain
is broken.
The Divine Right of Kings
• It was believed that the King was divinely chosen by God.
• As God’s chosen representative on earth, the King was the
supreme upholder of order on earth.
• If his position was violated it would destroy the perfect
order in the universe and bring strife and chaos to the
world.
• Any act of treason or treachery against the King was
considered indirectly to be a mortal sin against God. The
penalty was death.

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Hamlet lesson 1- 1/11/17

  • 1. Hamlet It Begins with a Question January 11, 2017 Sheila Jones, OLLI South
  • 2. Introductions 1. What is your name and one sentence of personal experience with Shakespeare or Hamlet in particular? 2. What you are most looking forward to in taking this course?
  • 3. Purpose – General • Wrestling with many possibilities is stimulating. • Arriving at consensus is probably out of the question. • Understanding our own human connections to the themes heightens our enjoyment as the play unfolds. • Recognizing the ambiguities guides our understanding of the director’s/actor’s creative scope of interpretation.
  • 4. Purpose – more specifically • Using your knowledge of Shakespeare’s dramatic style and conventions to unlock the play’s meaning in new productions • Understanding how both the director’s and actors’ interpretations of and decisions about the characters, themes, and design influence how the play is produced • Discovering some of the deeper connections and meanings to gain a richer appreciation of the play and of Shakespeare’s genius. • Seeing Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a product of its own age, but also recognizing that the character and the play remain relevant to humans across time and cultures.
  • 5. Slide deleted because of copyright • This slide contained a 3:18 minute cartoon of Hamlet as portrayed by the Simpsons. If you wish to view it, please do a Google search using the keywords: Hamlet, Simpsons
  • 6. Getting on the same page • Shakespearean Conventions – see handout* • Characteristics of a Shakespearean Tragic Hero – see handout* • Tracing images and motifs to unlock meaning – see handout • Your mission, if you choose to accept it!?! • previously emailed
  • 7. Getting on the same page Common Sources for Shakespeare’s plays: Holingshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande Two editions: 1577 and 1587 From an exhibit at the University of Colorado, Aug. 22, 2016. Manuscripts on loan from Folger Shakespeare Library.
  • 8. Getting on the same page Common Sources for Shakespeare’s plays: Left to right: • King James Daemonologie, 1597 • Holingshed’s Chronicles • The Works of Shakespeare – aka The First Folio, 1623
  • 9. Getting on the same page • The REAL Hamlet…more the LEGEND • Based on 11th Century Scandinavian legend that originated from a Norse poem • Shakespeare used early 13th century version from Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus in Gesta Danorum. • Both have very similar plots.
  • 10. Getting on the same page • Ur-Hamlet, (alleged). Possible author was Thomas Kyd • Kyd is best know for The Spanish Tragedy • B. 1158 – D. 1594 • Central figure in Elizabethan drama • The ghost allegedly added to Ur-Hamlet
  • 11. Getting on the same page Versions of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark No ONE definitive version of Hamlet The 1st Quarto – “Bad” 1603 The 2nd Quarto, 1604/1605 First Folio 1623 (posthumously)
  • 13. Hamlet, as Shakespearean Tragedy Hamlet is a play about… Public Concern Private Concern
  • 14. Public Concern Rainbow = a symbol of Peace. Latin inscription Non sine Sole iris Means “No Rainbow Without the Sun. • C o n s p i r a c i e s •
  • 15. Public Concern • C o n s p i r a c i e s • Youthful face = vitality and strength of Queen. Crown: Pearls = her virginity, Crown = her position and power.
  • 16. Public Concern • C o n s p i r a c i e s • Eyes and ears on the lining of her orange cloak = She sees all, knows all. Symbolic of her intricate spy network
  • 17. Private Concern Some claim the death of Hamnet, Shakespeare’s 11-year-old Son in 1596 may have influenced his writing of Hamlet. • R e f l e c t i o n s o n
  • 18. For next week • Read or watch Act 1 – Last lines… “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite/That I was ever born to set it right.” • Begin tracing your chosen imagery/motif. • If reading, how do you imagine the characters to be? If watching the Tennant version online, how are the characters portrayed? • Read or watch for the gist of the play – the plot. Make note of any questions you have to discuss in class next Wednesday.
  • 19. Elizabethan World View – the basics • During Elizabethan times, people believed that everyone and everything was arranged in a certain order – a hierarchy. • It was this order, known as the Great Chain of Being, that was threatened by new and exciting discoveries in science and astronomy.
  • 20. • According to this idea, everything in the world had its position fixed by God: – The Earth was the centre of the universe and the stars moved around it in fixed routes. – In Heaven God ruled over the archangels and angels. – On earth there was order everywhere. Society reflected this order with its fixed classes from the highest to the lowest – kings, churchmen, nobles, merchants, and peasants. – The animals had their own order too, the lion being the “king”. – Plant life and minerals also reflected this order. Among the trees, the most superior was the oak; among flowers, it was the rose. – Among the minerals, gold was the most superior.
  • 21. Cherubs Archangels, Angels Star controllers of Destiny Moon King Church Princes Nobles Man Lion Other Animals Oak and Rose Other Plants Gold Other Minerals GodOutsideofchain:Nothingness/chaos
  • 22. • The Chain of Being served to create social stability – everyone knew their places on the chain and interacted with the other levels: – The people higher up on the chain were responsible to provide for or care/protect those below them. – The people lower down had a responsibility to obey and serve those above them.
  • 23. The Chain of Being world view created the beliefs and values for individuals and the society of Shakespeare’s time. • The chain was a transactional sort of system – “I do this for you if you do this for me” • If someone in the chain doesn’t fulfill their responsibility, they are considered to be “breaking the chain.” • Any attempt to break the Chain of Being would upset the established order and bring about universal disorder.
  • 24. • The Chain of Being represents the social order of the time. • Anything that is outside the chain is considered to be chaos/nothingness/ madness/evil. • Therefore, by implication, if the chain is broken the order in the world is broken, and it can descend into chaos. • Nothingness, chaos, madness, evil – all of these things are outside the chain and are not considered to be made by God.
  • 25. *Everything within the chain is created by God. *Therefore everything within the chain is good. *Therefore there is no evil in the chain. *As evil doesn’t exist within the chain, it can only enter if the chain is broken.
  • 26. The Divine Right of Kings • It was believed that the King was divinely chosen by God. • As God’s chosen representative on earth, the King was the supreme upholder of order on earth. • If his position was violated it would destroy the perfect order in the universe and bring strife and chaos to the world. • Any act of treason or treachery against the King was considered indirectly to be a mortal sin against God. The penalty was death.

Editor's Notes

  1. Homework: Using the Tracing Motifs in Hamlet worksheet to be distributed in class, pick one or more motifs and make note of when a reference to that image/motif occurs. Note: reference with line number (can be circled in book), who the speaker is, who the receiver is (which character, or to audience as in aside, soliloquy), what’s happening at that point in play, and if possible, your explanation of the significance of the image/motif at this point in the play.
  2. Holingshed ChroniclesL Source for most of the history plays, portions of King Lear and Cymbeline, and most importantly for the story of Macbeth, though he changed key details significantly.
  3. King James VI & 1 wrote the Daemonology because of his strong interest in the subject. Shakespeare used this as one source for Macbeth. His fascination stemmed from his encounters with the North Berwick witches, who mixed political intrigue and witchcraft to threaten the royal family. While on trial for witchcraft and treason by the king and the privy council in 1590, the witches claimed credit for raising the storms in the North Sea that thwarted the arrival of James’ young bride, Anne of Denmark, the year before.
  4. Gesta Danorum = History of the Danes
  5. Some believe Shakespeare may have written Ur-Hamlet himself as a draft for this later Hamlet Ur means primordial, and is added to the name of something when the author is unknown.
  6. From the forward to the First Folio: To the great variety of Readers: From the most able, to him that can but spell: There you are numbered. We had rather you were weighed. Especially, when the fate of all Books depends upon your capacities: and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. Well! It is now public, and you will stand for your privileges we know: to read, and censure. Do so, but buy it first. That doth best commend a Book, the stationer says…. LOL: Some things never change.
  7. Rainbow portrait by either Isaac Oliver or Marcus Geerhaerts, the Younger, around 1600. As public concern, Shakespeare takes a medieval story of murder, conspiracies, spies, and disruption from the Middle Ages to explore the same sense of tension of Elizabethan England. Written between 1599 and 1601, this play’s themes parallel the concerns of the Elizabethans who feared what would happen when Elizabeth died. Which she did in 1603. As Public Concern, this is a play about grief, depression, suicide. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s own son had just died. Children – Susanna, Hamnet, his twin Judith
  8. Portrait = political propaganda. Rainbow: Latin inscription 'Non sine sole iris' ('No rainbow without the sun').  Themes and conflicts of Elizabeth’s reign parallel those that Hamlet faces. Thus, this medieval story of Hamlet is to some extent a commentary on contemporary England in Elizabeth’s waning reign Shakes does this with other plays too.
  9. Portrait = political propaganda. Rainbow: Latin inscription 'Non sine sole iris' ('No rainbow without the sun').  Themes and conflicts of Elizabeth’s reign parallel those that Hamlet faces. Thus, this medieval story of Hamlet is to some extent a commentary on contemporary England in Elizabeth’s waning reign Shakes does this with other plays too.
  10. Portrait = political propaganda. Rainbow: Latin inscription 'Non sine sole iris' ('No rainbow without the sun').  Themes and conflicts of Elizabeth’s reign parallel those that Hamlet faces. Thus, this medieval story of Hamlet is to some extent a commentary on contemporary England in Elizabeth’s waning reign Shakes does this with other plays too.
  11. Hamlet is more than one play. Yes, there is the play within a play – The Mousetrap – but there is also the external play of the court and its conflicts and the internal play of Hamlet struggling to find life’s meaning in a world he no longer understands.