Characterisation of Hamlet
Act 1 scene 2 The Melancholic Introduction.
Think about the creation of the character. Clothing. Demeanor. Shakespeare has a tragic hero with skill in language. Does he always use this to show his intelligence or does it sometimes show his instability? Think about his dialogue with Gertrude and Claudius at the start.
Soliloquy 1. – Frustration. Suicidal Contemplates suicide
Frustration at being unable to come to terms with Gertrude's marriage to Claudius so soon after the death of his father. Horror of incest – (‘incestuous sheets’ – hissing alliteration showing anger and horror).
Unrealistic idolization of his father? Hyperion + hyperbolic praise.
Dialogue with Horatio – Friendly, joking, affectionate – eager to see Ghost.
Tempo changes – lots of questions and energy.
Act 1 Scene 4
Dialogue with Horatio. Hamlet's feelings towards the upper class in Elsinore. Critical of drunkenness. Act 1 Scene 5 The revelation given by the ghost (exposition) and Hamlet swearing revenge. Think about the pressure placed on Hamlet by the ghost. How does Shakespeare show this? Exclamations. Sentences swift like his thoughts. Look at the scene.
Hamlet's decision to put on an 'antic disposition'.
Hamlet's loss of control. How does language support this?Shouting at the ghost, swearing three times etc. (NB Horatio – ‘wild and whirling words’)
Act 2 Scene 1 lines 78- end His actions to Ophelia causing Polonius to make assumptions about the reasons for his demeanour.
Act 2 scene 2 lines 310-331 His comments on human nature when talking to R and G
‘Man delights not me’
Soliloquy 3 ‘O what a rogue and peasant slave am I” – Self-loathing. ‘The spirit that I have seen/ May be the very devil.’ Doubting. ‘The Play’s the thing/ wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.’ Planning.
Hamlet begins to question and think too much about aspects of his life.
Act 3 Scene 1
Soliloquy 4 – ‘To be or not to be’ Suicidal thoughts Depression Despair?
Dialogue with Ophelia (‘get thee to a nunnery’) – Loses control when he is spurned by his love. Mysogenistic because of his problems with his mother’s behaviour? Behaviour at the play (Act 3 Scene 2) Dialogue – dangerous, hateful, overwrought).
Act 3 Scene 3 soliloquy 6 ‘Now might I do it pat, now a’ is a praying.’
Procrastination when Claudius is praying – refers back to OH’s description of his suffering in purgatory – he wants the same for Claudius. (Dramatic Irony, as C is unable to manage prayer after all.)
Act 3 Scene 4 Directly after this – rage at Gertrude (mocking parallel sentences threatening ‘daggers’) and then rash murder of Polonius
This action takes him even further away from reaching his objective. Dramatic technique
– introduce self inflicted obstacle. (own goal)
His treatment of Polonius' body (‘I’ll lug the guts into the neighbour room’) and dialogue with Claudius. (‘c: Where’s Polonius? H: At supper. C: At supper? Where? H: Not where he eats but where he is eaten.’) Calls Claudius ‘Mother’
His alienation of those around him. Shakespeare introducing another aspect of revenge – this time directed at Hamlet. Banished to England.
Act 3 Scene 4
Soliloquy 7 – ‘How all occasions do inform against me.’ comparison with Fortinbras and vowing to take revenge ‘My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.’
Hamlet is then left out of the following scene to introduce the passage of time and set up the other characters.
Act 5 Scene 1
This short act marks a move to action and fits classic tragic structure.
Lack of soliloquies. No more introspection.
Hamlet's feelings are shown through dialogue with gravediggers and Horatio
The gravediggers (clowns) are common and an indication of this is made through the writing. Common everyday speech– linked with prose
Insightful, intelligent– linked with poetry
The First Clown in particular takes every word literally, forcing Hamlet to say exactly what he means and particularly