Friday, March 6, 2020

British Drama Hamlet Summary, Character, Themes


About Hamlet

The story of the play originates within the legend of Hamlet (Amleth) as recounted within the twelfth-century Danish History, a Latin text by Saxo the Grammarian. This version was later adapted into French by Francois de Belleforest in 1570. In it, the unscrupulous Feng kills his brother Horwendil and marries his brother's wife Gerutha. Horwendil's and Gerutha's son Amleth, although still young, decides to avenge his father's murder. He acts the fool so as to avoid suspicion, a technique which succeeds in making the others think him harmless. together with his mother's active support, Amleth succeeds in killing Feng.

He's then proclaimed King of Denmark. This story is on the entire more straightforward than Shakespeare’s adaptation. Shakespeare was likely conscious of Saxo's version, along side another play performed in 1589 during which a ghost apparently calls out, "Hamlet, revenge!" The 1589 play is lost, resulting in much scholarly speculation on who may need authored it. Most scholars attribute it to Kyd , author of The Spanish Tragedy of 1587. The Spanish Tragedy shares many elements with Hamlet, like a ghost seeking revenge, a secret crime, a play-within-a-play, a tortured hero who feigns madness, and a heroine who goes mad and commits suicide.

The Spanish Tragedy
The Spanish Tragedy was one among the primary and hottest Elizabethan "revenge tragedies," a genre that Hamlet both epitomizes and complicates. Revenge tragedies typically share a couple of plot points. altogether of them, some grievous insult or wrong requires vengeance. Often in these plays the traditional means of retribution (the courts of law, generally speaking) are unavailable due to the facility of the guilty person or persons, who is usually noble if not royal. Revenge tragedies also emphasize the subjective struggle of the avenger, who often fights (or feigns) madness and usually wallows within the moral difficulties of his situation. Finally, revenge tragedies find yourself with a dramatic bloodbath during which the culprit is horribly and sometimes ritualistically killed.

Hamlet isn't Shakespeare's first revenge tragedy - that distinction belongs to Titus Andronicus, a Marlovian horror-show containing all of the weather just mentioned. But Hamlet is usually considered the best revenge tragedy, if not the best tragedy, if not the best play, ever written.

The central reason for the play's eminence is that the character of Hamlet. His brooding, erratic nature has been analyzed by many of the foremost famous thinkers and artists of the past four centuries. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described him as a poet - a sensitive man who is just too weak to affect the political pressures of Denmark. Austrian psychoanalyst Freud viewed Hamlet in terms of an “Oedipus complex,” an awesome concupiscence for his mother. This complex is typically related to the wish to kill one’s father and roll in the hay one’s mother. Freud points out that Hamlet's uncle has usurped his father's rightful place, and thus has replaced his father because the man who must die. However, Freud is careful to notice that Hamlet represents Homo sapiens sapiens precisely because he doesn't kill Claudius so as to roll in the hay his mother, but rather kills him to revenge his father’s death.
Political interpretations of Hamlet also abound, during which Hamlet stands for the spirit of political resistance, or represents a challenge to a corrupt regime. Stephen Greenblatt, the editor of the Norton Edition of Shakespeare, views these interpretive attempts of Hamlet as mirrors for the interpretation within the play itself - many of the characters who need to affect Hamlet, including Polonius, Claudius, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, also develop theories to elucidate his behavior, none of which really succeeds in doing so. Indeed, nothing sure are often said about Hamlet except that it's been a perennial occasion for brilliant minds to explore a number of the unanswerable questions of human existence.

Hamlet Characters

The son of Old Hamlet and Gertrude, thus Prince of Denmark. The ghost of Old Hamlet charges him with the task of killing his uncle, Claudius, for killing him and usurping the throne of Denmark. Hamlet may be a moody, theatrical, witty, brilliant young man, perpetually fascinated and suffering from doubts and introspection. it's famously difficult to pin down his true thoughts and feelings -- does he love Ophelia, and does he really shall kill Claudius? actually , it often seems as if Hamlet pursues lines of thought and emotion merely for his or her experimental value, testing this or that concept with none interest in applying his resolutions within the practical world. the variability of his moods, from manic to somber, seems to hide much of the range of human possibility.

Old Hamlet
The former King of Denmark. Old Hamlet appears as a ghost and exhorts his son to kill Claudius, whom he claims has killed him so as to secure the throne and therefore the queen of Denmark.
Hamlet fears (or a minimum of says he fears) that the ghost is an imposter, an spirit sent to lure him to hell. Old Hamlet's ghost reappears in Act Three of the play when Hamlet goes too far in berating his mother. After this second appearance, we hear and see no more of him.

Old Hamlet's brother, Hamlet's uncle, and Gertrude's newlywed husband. He murdered his brother so as to seize the throne and subsequently married Gertrude, his erstwhile sister-in-law. Claudius appears to be a rather dull man who is keen on the pleasures of the flesh, sex and drinking. Only because the play goes on can we become certain that he's indeed guilty of murder and usurpation.
Claudius is that the only character apart from Hamlet to possess a soliloquy within the play. When he's convinced that Hamlet has found him out, Claudius eventually schemes to possess his nephew-cum-son murdered.

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Old Hamlet's widow and Claudius' wife. She seems unaware that Claudius killed her former husband. Gertrude loves Hamlet tremendously, while Hamlet has very mixed feelings about her for marrying the (in his eyes) inferior Claudius after her first husband's death. Hamlet attributes this need for a husband to her lustiness. Gertrude figures prominently in many of the main scenes within the play, including the killing of Polonius and therefore the death of Ophelia.

Hamlet's closest friend. They know one another from the University of Wittenberg, where they're both students. Horatio is presented as a studious, skeptical young man, perhaps more serious and fewer ingenious than Hamlet but quite capable of trading witticisms together with his good friend.
During a moving tribute just before the play-within-the-play begins, in Act Two scene two, Hamlet praises Horatio as his soul's choice and declares that he loves Horatio because he's "not passion's slave" but is quite good-humored and philosophical through all of life's buffets. At the top of the play, Hamlet charges Horatio with the task of explaining the pile of bodies to the confused onlookers in court.

The father of Ophelia and Laertes and therefore the chief adviser to the throne of Denmark. Polonius may be a windy, pedantic, interfering, suspicious, silly old man, a "rash, intruding fool," in Hamlet's phrase. Polonius is forever fomenting intrigue and hiding behind tapestries to spy. He hatches the idea that Ophelia caused Hamlet to travel mad by rejecting him. Polonius' demise is fitting to his flaws. Hamlet accidentally kills the old man while he eavesdrops behind an arras in Gertrude's bedroom. Polonius' death causes his daughter to travel mad.

The daughter of Polonius and sister of Laertes. Ophelia has received several tributes of affection from Hamlet but rejects him after her father orders her to try to to so. generally , Ophelia is controlled by the lads in her life, moved around sort of a pawn in their scheme to get Hamlet's distemper. Moreover, Ophelia is often mocked by Hamlet and lectured by her father and brother about her sexuality. She goes mad after Hamlet murders Polonius. She later drowns.

Polonius' son and Ophelia's brother. Laertes is an impetuous young man who lives primarily in Paris, France. We see him at the start of the play at the celebration of Claudius and Gertrude's wedding. He then returns to Paris, only to return in Act Four with an angry entourage after his father's death at Hamlet's hands. He and Claudius conspire to kill Hamlet within the course of a duel between Laertes and therefore the prince.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Friends of Hamlet's from the University of Wittenberg. Claudius invites them to court so as to spy on Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are often treated as comic relief; they're sycophantic, vaguely absurd fellows. After Hamlet kills Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are assigned to accompany Hamlet to England. They carry a letter from Claudius asking English king to kill Hamlet upon his arrival. Hamlet discovers this plot and alters the letter in order that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are put to death instead. We learn that they need indeed been executed at the very close of the play.

The Prince of Norway. In some ways his story is parallel to Hamlet's: he too has lost his father by violence (Old Hamlet killed Old Fortinbras in single combat); he too is impeded from ascending the throne by an interfering uncle. But despite their biographical similarities, Fortinbras and Hamlet are constitutional opposites. Where Hamlet is pensive and mercurial, Fortinbras is all action. He leads a military through Denmark so as to attack disputed territory in Poland. At the top of the play, and with Hamlet's dying assent, Fortinbras assumes the crown of Denmark.

The ludicrous, flowery, stupid courtier who invites Hamlet to fence with Laertes, then is referee during the competition .

The gravediggers
Two "clowns" (roles played by comic actors), a principal gravedigger and his assistant. They figure only in one scene -- Act Five scene one -- yet never fail to form an enormous impression on readers and audience members. the first gravedigger may be a very witty man, macabre and intelligent, who is that the only character within the play capable of trading barbs with Hamlet. they're the sole speaking representatives of the lower classes within the play and their perspective may be a remarkable contrast thereto of the nobles.

The players
A group of (presumably English) actors who arrive in Denmark. Hamlet knows this company well and listens, enraptured, while the chief player recites an extended speech about the death of Priam and therefore the wrath of Hecuba. Hamlet uses the players to stage an adaptation of "The Death of Gonzago" which he calls "The Mousetrap" -- a play that reprises almost perfectly the account of Old Hamlet's death as told by the ghost -- so as to make certain of Claudius' guilt.

A Priest
Charged with performing the rites at Ophelia's funeral. due to the doubtful circumstances of Ophelia's death, the priest refuses to try to to quite the bare minimum as she is interred.

Polonius' servant, sent to see on Laertes in Paris. He receives absurdly detailed instructions in espionage from his master.

A soldier who is among the primary to ascertain the ghost of Old Hamlet.

Hamlet Summary

Something is amiss in Denmark -- for 2 successive nights, the midnight guard has witnessed the looks of the ghost of Old Hamlet, the previous King of Denmark who has recently died. The guards bring Horatio, a learned scholar and friend of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, to witness this apparition. Though skeptical initially , Horatio sees the ghost and decides to report its appearance to Hamlet.
A replacement king of Denmark has been crowned: Claudius, Old Hamlet's brother. Claudius has taken Old Hamlet's widow, Gertrude, as his wife. We watch their marriage celebration and listen to a few threat from the Prince of Norway, Fortinbras, which Claudius manages to avoid by diplomacy. Hamlet is attending at this wedding celebration; he's hardly in joyous spirits, however. he's disgusted by his mother's decision to marry Claudius so soon after his father's demise. Horatio tells Hamlet of the looks of the ghost and Hamlet determines to go to the spirit himself.
The court adviser, Polonius, sends his son, Laertes, back to Paris, where he's living. Laertes and Polonius both question Ophelia (sister and daughter, respectively) about her relationship with Hamlet. Ophelia admits that Hamlet has been wooing her. They tell her to avoid Hamlet and reject his amorous advances, emphasizing the importance of protecting her chastity. Ophelia agrees to chop off contact.

That night, Hamlet accompanies the watch. The ghost appears another time . Hamlet questions the ghost, who beckons Hamlet faraway from the others. once they are alone, the ghost reveals that Claudius murdered him so as to steal his crown and his wife. The ghost makes Hamlet promise to require revenge on Claudius. Hamlet appears to concur excitedly. He has Horatio and therefore the guards swear to not reveal what they need seen.
Act Two finds us some indefinite time within the future. Hamlet has been behaving during a most erratic and alarming way. Claudius summons two of Hamlet's school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, so as to get the meaning of this strange behavior. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's attempts to get the rationale for Hamlet's madness are met with evasion and witticism. Meanwhile, Polonius hatches a theory of his own: he thinks that Hamlet is insane thanks to Ophelia's rejection of his love. He arranges to check his theory by setting Ophelia on Hamlet once they are apparently alone then observing the proceedings with Claudius.
Hamlet's only consolation appears to be the approaching of a troupe of players from England. Hamlet asks the player's whether or not they could play a rather modified version of a tragedy. We realize that Hamlet plans to place on a play that depicts the death of his father, to ascertain whether Claudius is basically guilty, and therefore the ghost is basically to be trusted.
In Act Three, Ophelia approaches Hamlet once they are apparently alone; Claudius and Polonius hide behind a tapestry and observe. Hamlet behaves extremely cruelly toward Ophelia. The king decides that Hamlet isn't mad for love of her except for another hidden reason.
Hamlet prepares to place on his play, which he calls "The Mouse Trap." After instructing the players in their parts, Hamlet retires to the audience, where Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, and Polonius have gathered, along side many others. within the course of the play, both Gertrude and Claudius become extremely upset, though for various reasons. Gertrude is flustered by Hamlet's unspoken accusation that she was inconstant and hypocritical for remarrying after Old Hamlet's death; Claudius is shaken because he's indeed guilty of his brother's murder. Claudius decides that he must get obviate Hamlet by sending him to England.
Following the play, Gertrude calls Hamlet to her room, meaning to berate him for his horrible insinuations. Hamlet turns the tables on her, accusing her of a most grotesque lust and claiming that she has insulted her father and herself by stooping to marry Claudius. within the course of their interview, Polonius hides behind a tapestry; at one point, he thinks that Hamlet goes to attack Gertrude and cries for help. Hamlet stabs Polonius through the tapestry, thinking he has killed Claudius. When he finds that he has merely killed a "rash, intruding fool," Hamlet returns to the business of "speaking daggers" to his mother. even as Gertrude appears convinced by Hamlet's excoriation, the ghost of Old Hamlet reappears and tells Hamlet to not behave so cruelly to his mother, and to recollect to hold out revenge on Claudius. Gertrude perceives her son discoursing with nothing but air and is totally convinced of his madness. Hamlet exits her room, dragging the body of Polonius behind him.
After much questioning, Claudius convinces Hamlet to reveal the topographic point of Polonius' body. He then makes arrangements for Hamlet to travel to England immediately, amid Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Claudius writes a letter to English court asking them to kill Hamlet immediately upon his arrival and places the letter together with his two cronies. On their thanks to the ship, Hamlet and his entourage pass Fortinbras' Norwegian army on the way to a Polish campaign.
Back at Elsinore (the Danish palace), Ophelia has gone mad following her father's death. She sings childish and bawdy songs and speaks nonsensically. Laertes soon returns to Denmark with a mob in tow, demanding an evidence of Polonius' death. Claudius gingerly calms the young man and convinces him that Hamlet was the culprit .

Letters arrive attesting to a wierd turn of fortunes on the ocean . Hamlet's ship to England was attacked by pirates, who captured Hamlet and arranged to return him to Denmark for a ransom. Hamlet sends Claudius an aggravating letter announcing his imminent return. Claudius and Laertes decide that Hamlet must be killed. They plan to arrange a duel between Laertes and Hamlet during which Laertes' sword is secretly poisoned so on guarantee Hamlet's immediate death. As backup, Claudius decides to poison a cup of wine and offer it to Hamlet during the competition .
Just as Act Four involves an in depth , more tragic news arrives. Gertrude says that Ophelia has drowned while playing during a willow by the river.
Act Five begins at a graveyard. Two gravediggers joke about their morbid occupation. Hamlet and Horatio arrive and converse with them. Soon, Ophelia's funeral begins. Because there are doubts about whether Ophelia died accidentally or committed suicide, her funeral lacks many of the customary religious rites. Laertes bombastically dramatizes his grief, prompting Hamlet to reveal himself and declare his equal grief at the loss of his erstwhile beloved. After a brief tussle, Hamlet and Laertes part.

Later, Hamlet explains to Horatio that he discovered Claudius' plot to possess him killed in England and forged a replacement letter arranging for the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. While they're conversing, Osric, a ridiculous courtier, approaches and proposes the duel between Laertes and Hamlet. Hamlet eventually accepts this challenge.
The duel begins with Osric as referee. Hamlet wins the primary two passes, prompting Claudius to resort to the poisoned drink. Hamlet refuses the drink. In his stead, Gertrude drinks a toast to her son from the poisoned cup. After a 3rd pass also goes to Hamlet, Laertes sneak-attacks the prince and wounds him. A scuffle ensues during which Hamlet finishes up with Laertes' sword. He injures Laertes. Just then Gertrude collapses. She declares that she has been poisoned. Laertes, also dying, confesses the entire plot to Hamlet, who finally attacks Claudius, stabbing him with the poisoned sword then forcing the poisoned toss off his throat. Hamlet too is dying. He asks Horatio to elucidate the carnage to all or any onlookers and tell his story. Hamlet dies.

Just then, Fortinbras arrives at the court, accompanying some English ambassadors who bring word of the death of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. With all the immediate royalty of Denmark dead, Fortinbras asserts his right to the crown. He arranges for Hamlet to receive a soldier's burial.

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