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Hamlet
The Question of Character
Day 2 – January 18, 2017
Sheila Jones, South
Elements to Consider
• How will director/actors interpret
characters and their motivations?
• Will director select one or more
dominant themes to guide
interpretations?
• What symbolism and imagery are
used?
• Does the production follow the usual
conventions of tragedy, especially
revenge tragedy, or does this production
deviate from these conventions?
Elements to Consider
• How will director/actors interpret
characters and their motivations?
• Will director select one or more
dominant themes to guide
interpretations?
• What symbolism and imagery are
used?
• Does the production follow the usual
conventions of tragedy, especially
revenge tragedy, or does this production
deviate from these conventions?
Characters to Explore
Hamlet
Prince of Denmark.
Son of Hamlet
Senior (the ghost)
and Gertrude.
Stepson/nephew
to Claudius.
Claudius
Newly elected king.
Brother of Hamlet Sr.,
whom he murdered.
New husband of
Gertrude.
Ghost
[Hamlet Sr.]
Murdered King.
Hamlet’s father.
Late husband of
Gertrude.
Characters to Explore
Polonius
Lord High Chamberlain.
Father of Laertes and
Ophelia.
Ophelia
Daughter of Polonius.
Hamlet’s girlfriend.
Laertes’ sister.
Gertrude
Queen of Denmark.
Widow of Hamlet Sr.
New wife of Claudius.
Hamlet’s mother.
Hamlet
Melancholic/Depressed
“an intellectual…with a
proportionate aversion to real
action consequent upon it.”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“the prince of philosophical
speculators” – Wm. Haziltt
Cruel, brutal
“polished by nature, courteous
from the heart” - Goethe
“A Renaissance man”
Driven by
Oedipal passions
A coward
“quick and impetuous
in action” – A.C. Bradley
Mad [Angry? or Crazy?]
Scheming
OTHERS?
Hamlet
_______________________________________
_______________________________________
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
_______________________________________
Cruel Too good for world
Crazy Mad Angry
Hamlet: As I perchance hereafter shall think meet /To put an antic disposition
on – I:v:171-172
Gertrude: Alas, he is mad! III:iv:105
Hamlet: Unhand me gentlemen. By heaven I’ll make a ghost of him that let’s
me! I say, away! I:v:94-96.
Hamlet: The time is out of joint. O curséd spite/That ever I was born to set it
right. I:v:189-190.
Impulsive Deliberate
Emotional IntellectualDetached
<Play Clips of Hamlet - Discuss>
Note: One way to look at the various ways is to consider Hamlet’s most identifiable traits
along a continuum of interpretation. Many characters refer to him as “mad”. Does
“mad” mean mentally ill, insane, crazy? Or does it mean some degree of anger? And to what
degree? In each of the clips we viewed, we saw each actor interpret the answers very differently.
Hamlet in relation to other
characters
FOILS
Characters who contrast with other characters in order to
highlight particular personality traits and qualities.
[Note: As directors view the character of Hamlet differently along the continuu
interpretation seen on previous slides, the characterization of Hamlet’s foils w
change also, not only with him, but with other characters as well. This is one
reason why each production of Hamlet is different.]
The Ghost
Elizabethans had three views on ghosts:
• Catholics believed they were spirits released from Purgatory for a
specific purpose — to bring a message or a warning.
• Protestants held that they were devils or demons to lure people to
their destruction.
• Sceptics thought them to be illusions of melancholy minds.
This is Hamlet’s dilemma – Is the ghost who he says he is?
“Be thou a spirit of health or a goblin damned? Bring with thee airs of
heaven or blasts from hell? Be thy intents wicked or charitable? Thou
com’st in such a questionable shape/That I will speak to thee.”
His solution? “The play’s the thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of
the king.”
The Ghost
So…how should the ghost be enacted?
• Is it real or imagined?
• Is it a good presence to be heeded? Or a
demon that will lead one to hell?
• Does it speak the truth? If, indeed, it is the
truth, do we, as audience, feel sympathetic or
fearful? <Play Clip #3 – Branaugh vs. Gibson version
Tracing Motifs in Branaugh
• Disease and body blemish
• Rot (foods and plants)
• Poison
• Clothes, cosmetics, makeup, etc.
• Acting
• War/Violence
• Condition of the world
• Spying
• Frailty
Next Week
• Act II – Read and/or watch Tennant version
• The Question of Character – continued,
focusing on Gertrude, Polonius, and Ophelia
• Optional: Read article I emailed this morning
on “To Sell or not to Sell? How would you sum
up Hamlet?”

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Hamlet lesson 2 slideshare

  • 1. Hamlet The Question of Character Day 2 – January 18, 2017 Sheila Jones, South
  • 2.
  • 3. Elements to Consider • How will director/actors interpret characters and their motivations? • Will director select one or more dominant themes to guide interpretations? • What symbolism and imagery are used? • Does the production follow the usual conventions of tragedy, especially revenge tragedy, or does this production deviate from these conventions?
  • 4. Elements to Consider • How will director/actors interpret characters and their motivations? • Will director select one or more dominant themes to guide interpretations? • What symbolism and imagery are used? • Does the production follow the usual conventions of tragedy, especially revenge tragedy, or does this production deviate from these conventions?
  • 5. Characters to Explore Hamlet Prince of Denmark. Son of Hamlet Senior (the ghost) and Gertrude. Stepson/nephew to Claudius. Claudius Newly elected king. Brother of Hamlet Sr., whom he murdered. New husband of Gertrude. Ghost [Hamlet Sr.] Murdered King. Hamlet’s father. Late husband of Gertrude.
  • 6. Characters to Explore Polonius Lord High Chamberlain. Father of Laertes and Ophelia. Ophelia Daughter of Polonius. Hamlet’s girlfriend. Laertes’ sister. Gertrude Queen of Denmark. Widow of Hamlet Sr. New wife of Claudius. Hamlet’s mother.
  • 7. Hamlet Melancholic/Depressed “an intellectual…with a proportionate aversion to real action consequent upon it.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge “the prince of philosophical speculators” – Wm. Haziltt Cruel, brutal “polished by nature, courteous from the heart” - Goethe “A Renaissance man” Driven by Oedipal passions A coward “quick and impetuous in action” – A.C. Bradley Mad [Angry? or Crazy?] Scheming OTHERS?
  • 8. Hamlet _______________________________________ _______________________________________ ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– _______________________________________ Cruel Too good for world Crazy Mad Angry Hamlet: As I perchance hereafter shall think meet /To put an antic disposition on – I:v:171-172 Gertrude: Alas, he is mad! III:iv:105 Hamlet: Unhand me gentlemen. By heaven I’ll make a ghost of him that let’s me! I say, away! I:v:94-96. Hamlet: The time is out of joint. O curséd spite/That ever I was born to set it right. I:v:189-190. Impulsive Deliberate Emotional IntellectualDetached <Play Clips of Hamlet - Discuss> Note: One way to look at the various ways is to consider Hamlet’s most identifiable traits along a continuum of interpretation. Many characters refer to him as “mad”. Does “mad” mean mentally ill, insane, crazy? Or does it mean some degree of anger? And to what degree? In each of the clips we viewed, we saw each actor interpret the answers very differently.
  • 9. Hamlet in relation to other characters FOILS Characters who contrast with other characters in order to highlight particular personality traits and qualities. [Note: As directors view the character of Hamlet differently along the continuu interpretation seen on previous slides, the characterization of Hamlet’s foils w change also, not only with him, but with other characters as well. This is one reason why each production of Hamlet is different.]
  • 10. The Ghost Elizabethans had three views on ghosts: • Catholics believed they were spirits released from Purgatory for a specific purpose — to bring a message or a warning. • Protestants held that they were devils or demons to lure people to their destruction. • Sceptics thought them to be illusions of melancholy minds. This is Hamlet’s dilemma – Is the ghost who he says he is? “Be thou a spirit of health or a goblin damned? Bring with thee airs of heaven or blasts from hell? Be thy intents wicked or charitable? Thou com’st in such a questionable shape/That I will speak to thee.” His solution? “The play’s the thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
  • 11. The Ghost So…how should the ghost be enacted? • Is it real or imagined? • Is it a good presence to be heeded? Or a demon that will lead one to hell? • Does it speak the truth? If, indeed, it is the truth, do we, as audience, feel sympathetic or fearful? <Play Clip #3 – Branaugh vs. Gibson version
  • 12. Tracing Motifs in Branaugh • Disease and body blemish • Rot (foods and plants) • Poison • Clothes, cosmetics, makeup, etc. • Acting • War/Violence • Condition of the world • Spying • Frailty
  • 13. Next Week • Act II – Read and/or watch Tennant version • The Question of Character – continued, focusing on Gertrude, Polonius, and Ophelia • Optional: Read article I emailed this morning on “To Sell or not to Sell? How would you sum up Hamlet?”

Editor's Notes

  1. Olivier Version: So oft it chances in particular men that through some vicious mole of nature in them. By the o’ergrowth of some complexion /Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason. Or by some habit grown too much: That thesehese men/ Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect. Their virtues else — be they as pure as grace. Shall in the general censure take corruption From that Particular fault. This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.
  2. 1. In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character. In some cases, a subplot can be used as a foil to the main plot.