[2015] Kandice Pettaway (AP Literature): Hamlet

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[2015] Kandice Pettaway (AP Literature): Hamlet

When he comes back from college, Hamlet learns of his mother and uncle's marriage. The ghost appears to Hamlet and tells Hamlet that he is the ghost of the late King Hamlet. He says that Claudius killed him by poisoning him while he was asleep in the garden. The ghost tells Hamlet to get revenge for his murder so that he can move on. Hamlet does not know if he can trust the ghost or whether it is right to kill Claudius. Throughout the play, Hamlet pretends to be mad, while he plans Claudius's death. Ophelia decides that Hamlet is mad after he says some horrible things to her. Gertrude and Claudius ask Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet to discover why he is crazy. Meanwhile, a letter is sent declaring that their will be no war with Fortinbras. Hamlet stages the mousetrap play to portray his father's death and watch Claudius's reaction. Hamlet finds Claudius guilty and plans to kill him. however, Hamlet accidentally stabs Polonius, when he really thought it was Claudius (climax). He then commits himself to overtly violent action and brings himself into unavoidable conflict with the king. Laertes finds out about his father's death thinking Claudius did it. Claudius tells Laertes it was Hamlet so Laertes wants revenge. Hamlet is then sent away to England and Ophelia drowns while he is gone. Claudius realizes the wrong he has done when he is praying one night. Hamlet returns and passes up the opportunity to kill Claudius when he sees him praying. Hamlet has Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed. Then, Hamlet confronts Laertes at Ophelia’s funeral. They have a fencing match and fall in the grave. Finally, everyone dies except Horatios (resolution). Gertrude drinks poisoned wine. Laertes and Hamlet stab each other with the poisoned sword. Hamlet stabs Claudius with the same sword and makes him drink the wine. Hamlet tells Horatio to tell this story to everyone and Fortinbras takes over the throne.

By William Shakespeare


"To be, or not to be"


Hamlet: Hamlet is the protagonist of the play. He is the son of Queen Gertrude and late King Hamlet, which makes him the Prince of Denmark. He does not approve of his mother and uncle's marriage. He wants his mom to mourn his father's death. He is 30 years old and is constantly grieving his father's death. While trying to avenge his father's death, he acts like a petulant teenager. He is also very reflective and witty, but sometimes he is too indecisive and acts too rashly.The Ghost: The Ghost is the spirit of the late King Hamlet (Hamlet's father). He tells Hamlet that he has been murdered by Claudius and asks him to avenge his death so that he can move on. It is unclear whether or not the ghost is actually real or just in Hamlet's head.Claudius: Claudius is the King of Denmark and Hamlet's uncle. He is married to Hamlet's mother. He can be considered the antagonist of the play. Claudius is a calculating, shrewd, and mischievous man obsessed with power.Getrude: Gertrude is the Queen of Denmark and Hamlet's mother. She is remarried to Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. She loves Hamlet dearly, but is a naive and weak woman who cares mostly about her high status.Ophelia: Ophelia is Polonius's daughter and Hamlet's girlfriend. She loves Hamlet greatly, but also honors her father and brother, Laertes. She is a sweet and carefree girl, but goes a little crazy after her father's death.Laertes: Laertes is Polonius's son and Ophelia's brother. He wants revenge after he learns about his father's death. His actions are very precise and quick, but are driven by his emotions.Polonius: Polonius is the father of Ophelia and Laertes. He is the Chief Counselor to Claudius. He is a conniving old man that does not like Hamlet and Ophelia's relationship. He is pretty protective of both of his children and tries to be very involved in their personal lives.Fortinbras: Fortinbras is the Prince of Norway. His father was killed by Hamlet's father so he wants to avenge his father's death by attacking Denmark. He is often compared Hamlet because of the similarities of their situations.Horatio: Horatio is Hamlet's best friend (one and only true friend really). He is loyal to Hamlet and is extremely sad when Hamlet dies. He has good judgement and is the only important person that survives in the play.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: They seem to be Hamlet's friends at first, but they really are not. The spy on Hamlet after the King and Queen order them to.


Laurence Olivier's 1984 Version

Point of ViewHamlet is written in third person, but because there is not really a narrator or a specific way to read the play, majority of the play and depictions of the characters are open to interpretation.

Themes1. Seeking revenge will untilmately leads to one's own downfall and suffering.2. Death is an escape from the suffering one faces in life.

Literary DevicesText Structure: Majority of the soliloquies in the play are iambic pentameter, which adds rhythm when reading them. Shakespeare also uses prose, while still keeping some of the same techniques used in poetry.Allusions: Shakespeare makes biblical and mythological allusions in the play to help. He alludes to the Garden of Eden when the ghost describes his murder. There is also an allusion to the Roman emperor Nero when Hamlet is saying that he wants to be cruel like him, but not inhuman and crazy.Tone: Shakespeare uses the imagery, diction, and the dialogue between characters to create many different tones. I think the tone of the play is overall uncertain, mysterious, angry, melancholy, and comical.Symbols: The ghost is a spiritual symbol for death. The skull Hamlet holds up also symbolizes the physical finality of death. Both of these symbols can be seen as foreshadowing. The flowers Ophelia gives out symbolizes many different things. Fennel symbolizes strength and praiseworthiness, columbine symbolizes folly, daisies symbolize innocence, and violets symbolize faithfulness and modesty. It unclear who Ophelia gives these flowers to so it open to interpretation. Hamlets clothes also symbolize his mood. He wears old black when he is grieving his father's death and ratty and torn clothes when he pretending to be mad. Foreshadowing: Throughout the play shakespeare is constantly hinting at death and something awful happening. At the beginning of the play, it is already known that somebody will die. One of the most memorable foreshadowing quotes is, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Significant Quotes1. "To be or not to be: that is the question" (Act III, Scene I).Explanation: This quote is from the best known soliloquy in Hamlet. Hamlet considers the pros and cons of suicide and wonders if death is better than life. Hamlet has been indecisive the entire play and this frustrates him, so he considers ending it all. Hamlet considers death an eternal sleep used to escape suffering. However, Hamlet fears the unknown of death and bad dreams. The tone of Hamlet's soliloquy is reflective.2."This above all: to thine own self be true" (Act I, Scene III).Explanation: In this quote, Polonius is giving advice to his son, Laertes. Previously, he tells Laertes to listen more than he talks, not to borrow or lend money, and not to be too lavish. Finally, he says this quote and is basically telling Laertes to be himself. The quote is ironic however because neither Polonius nor Laertes heeds the advice that Polonius gives in this scene.3. "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't" (Act II, Scene II).Explanation: This quote is an aside given by Polonius, while him and Hamlet are speaking. Polonius makes the point that even though Hamlet is talking crazy, he actually makes sense. Polonius believes Hamlet is acting "mad" because of Hamlet's love for Ophelia. This is not the cause of Hamlet's madness, but Hamlet does have a purpose. Hamlet is acting mad to disguise his true mission to avenge his father's murder.


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