Techniques and imagery in Hamlet

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  • Created on: 22-06-13 13:18
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Interpreting Hamlet as a personal or a political play
Personal examination of character and family relationships
Play that reflects on the political climate of Shakespeare's time or a comment on the problems in
society ­ power balances, corruption and inequality
It can be on both levels as Shakespeare would have wanted to reflect on the social context but is
not the sole purpose of his play
Revenge ­ idea of the revenge tragedy
Appearance and acting ­ deceit
Corruption and decay
Melancholy, madness and memory
o Hamlet's a bit bipolar ­ manic depression caused by melancholy and excessive
Considered an unnatural state ­ a physical disease, this will change audience's
perception of the character
o Tradition of revenge tragedy where the aggrieved character would go mad with grief
Madness means that there is no responsibility for action
Hamlet pretends to be mad so that is it him trying to distance himself from his
Moods and madness were thought to be affected by the moon cycle's
o Passion was considered to be both a manifestation and a cause of madness ­ called by
o Ophelia's victimization at the hands of Hamlet
o Dichotomy of Hamlet's character ­ using madness logically
o Divine idiot ­ innocent and sensitive so he is closer to God but also very perceptive ­ like
o Gertrude feels guilt for Hamlet's madness
o Hamlet begins to wear a mask `antic disposition' ­ theme of performance
Also the further dichotomy in his character as his mind cannot cope with what his
actions mean
o Madness real or affected disguises a person's thoughts ­ this shows that he immediately
becomes more of a threat ­ Claudius sees Hamlet as a threat
o Hamlet's alter-ego
Hamlet's pretense of being mad is the alternate perspective of his character
Hamlet as a metaphor for Denmark and the corruption and collapse in the country
o Horatio is the only person that Hamlet trusts

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Falling of Hamlet's mental state, the fall of the kingdom, falling into evil
Ophelia's madness
o Caused by the so called women's weakness of the mind
o Ophelia takes over the role of Hamlet as the madman in court
o They are parallels of each other ­ Ophelia simply becomes a real incarnation of madness
o Ophelia's madness is revealed through song
The power of memory
o Memory was believed to be the difference between humans and beasts
Old Hamlet's forgotten memory is what irked…read more

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Duality and the merging of binary oppositions
o Two figures appear to be different but they are drawn to each other
Claudius and Hamlet
o Heaven and hell, high and low
o Reason and passion, god and beast, civilization and beast, good and evil, sin and
absolution, conception and decomposition, salvation and damnation
o Repetition and unquestioning observance of customs
o One of the contradictions in the play between the customs of the society and Hamlet's
renaissance and scientific views
o Hamlet as the…read more

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Corruption and decay
Disease and rotting bodies
Death and decay
Theatre and performance
Repeated use of theatre to reflect Shakespeare's own voice as a playwright who wants to
create change
Symbol of false pretence and deceit
Acting as ironically a true lasting representation of some aspect of society
Imagery represents themes and ideas and characters in Hamlet
o Metaphor and simile are linked to characters as well as description
o Unique to the Elizabethan theatre - Heaven/hell, light/dark, decay/disease/poison
Poison as a metaphor…read more

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Madness as the corruption of the soul - Ophelia and Hamlet
o Corruption of the body and decay in death
Hamlet's cynicism
o Idea of a goal and targeting people/goals
o Idea of victimization
o Hamlet as an arrow - being sent away
Wordplay - doubling, repetition, antithecal
'This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him"
o Reflection of the contradictions throughout the play
Hamlet is obsessed with doubles of all kinds - hendiadys, a same concept expressed using two
o To…read more

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Hamlet advocates for using words precisely and to actually create meaning
o Hamlet's soliloquies
Narrative and perspective into a particular character
Most soliloquies reveal the truth, Hamlet does not reveal, instead he questions
and explores
Even in his soliloquies he is reserved and silent, deciding against sharing with
Hamlet's soliloquies are a development and inner world of Hamlet changing
throughout the play
Soliloquies 2, 4,6 are soulsearching while 1, 3, 5, 7 is aggressive and planning
Hamlet has too sides - bipolar disorder -…read more

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Some are so powerful they can stand alone
Hamlet and the Murder of Gonzago/the mousetrap
This is linked to an important theme of 'playing' 'acting' and 'deceit
Representation of the 3 worlds in Hamlet
Hamlet's mind
Physical world of Denmark
Dramatic fiction and play
The play represents Hamlet's need to know that he is rational and is not delaying
revenge - prove the guilt of the king - provide a trusted witness (Horatio)
Hamlet instructs the Player to be natural so that there can be…read more


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