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Hamlet Blog #4

February 20, 2012


Hamlet has come to an end and everyone dies. It is tragic and also quite sudden. It seems like everyone drops dead one after another. Act 5 scene 2 was pretty epic, especially in the Kenneth Branagh film version of the scene. There was much more of a battle between Hamlet and Claudius as compared to the other film versions. I thought they did a nice job with that. I found it interesting how the other film versions didn't put in anything about Fortinbras and just ended with Hamlet dying. Perhaps this was because it was more dramatic that way.

From Act 5 Scene 2:
Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.
I am justly killed with mine own treachery.

In these two lines, Laertes is dying, but compares himself to a critter being caught in his own trap and says that this is all his own fault. I thought this was interesting, because he wants to seek revenge on Hamlet for killing Polonius, but then blames his own death on himself. I think it is possible that Laertes was being manipulated by Claudius into wanting to seek revenge, but then realized that is not what he wanted at all and that he got himself into this whole mess.

Period 2 Essential Question: To be of not to be? When is a life not worth living? Who gets to decide if someone should live or die?
In the end of Hamlet, everyone dies and is in some way murdered by somebody else. It has obviously been decided by someone that these people should be dead and that their lives were not worth living. Hamlet kills Claudius because he feels he needs to avenge his father's death, and therefore decides that Claudius does not deserve to live. Gertrude, however, dies because she drinks the poison without realizing it. Who decided that her life was not worth living? Did she make that decision herself without realizing it by being to stupid to not drink the poison when she was told not to? Either way, it is hard to tell whether someone's life is not worth living.

Hamlet Blog #3

February 12, 2012

So most people agree that Hamlet has gone completely crazy. Even though others saw the ghost of King Hamlet Sr., in the beginning of the play, the ghost shows up again while Hamlet is with his mother and she is completely unaware. Obviously she is going to think he has gone mad, but I don't necessarily think he is at this point, because we know that the ghost actually exists, she just can't see it. Hamlet's two friends are even sent to spy on Hamlet to see what all of his madness is about. I think that everyone is just becoming paranoid at this point, which is driving them all mad. There really aren't any sane people in this play anymore. Ophelia has gone loony over Hamlet and with the death of his father, Laertes has been convinced by Claudius that he wants revenge.

From Act 4 Scene 7:
Hamlet return'd shall know you are come home:
We'll put on those shall praise your excellence
And wager on your heads: he,
Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and in a pass of practise
Requite him for your father.
I will do't:
And, for that purpose, I'll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank,
I'll touch my point
With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.
Let's further think of this;
When in your motion you are hot and dry--
And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him
A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
Our purpose may hold there.

This passage reveals a lot about Claudius's manipulative abilities. He is convincing Laertes that together they can do away with Hamlet while making it look like an accident. Laertes agrees because he feels he needs to do what is right for his father, which he thinks is to kill Hamlet. This is a bit ironic, because we know that Claudius just wants Hamlet dead, like he did his father, but is using Laertes and his grief to get the job done.


To Be or Not to Be?
In Hamlet's soliloquy, he contemplates whether he should live and face the awful world in which he lives or simply kill himself and escape everything. He obviously doesn't kill himself and therefore he believes he has the right to live. Either that or he doesn't think he has the right to decide whether he lives or dies. it seems like Hamlet always complains about his circumstance or talks about killing himself, but doesn't ever do anything about it.

Hamlet Blog #2

February 5, 2012

This week we read scenes four and five of act one. In scene five, we met the ghost of King Hamlet Sr. when he came to his son and asked him to avenge his death. Hamlet Sr. reveals the truth, saying that it was not a snake that bit and killed him, but rather his brother who poisoned him and left him to die, robbing him of his throne and even his wife. We also watched a few film interpretations of this scene, some of which were better than others. However, most of the film versions portrayed the ghost of Hamlet Sr. as a dark, intimidating figure, such as seen in the photo above. I thought the ghost of Hamlet Sr. was a bit scary and very set on getting revenge for what happened to him. He was very demanding to Hamlet Jr. Although, if I was king and my brother killed me, took my throne, and married my wife, I would be pretty upset too.

Passage from Act 1 Scene 5:
Oh, horrible, oh, horrible, most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damn├Ęd incest.
But howsoever thou pursuest this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once.
-Ghost of King Hamlet

In this passage, King Hamlet's ghost is telling his son that if he is human, he can not stand for this and must do something about it. He is also very upset with his wife, but tells Hamlet Jr. to not harm her and to leave her to God and her own guilt. I am a little surprised that Hamlet Sr. wants nothing done about his wife, because she is just as bad as Claudius. Apparently he thinks she will get her punishment after she dies when he says, "Leave her to heaven And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge To prick and sting her".

Essential Question: To Be or Not to Be?
Just as Claudius believed he had the right to decide whether his brother lived or died, King Hamlet's ghost believes the same thing about Claudius. By asking for his son to take revenge on Claudius, he is deciding that his brother's life is not worth living.

Hamlet Blog #1

January 29, 2012

What I Thought:
Before beginning to read Hamlet, I wasn't really sure what the play was about. I knew it had something to do with death, revenge, and contained the famous line "to be or not to be," but the rest of it I was fairly unfamiliar with. I am glad we have started reading it and after watching the David Tennant film version, I am excited to watch play unfold. I thought the first scene of the play was interesting, but also strange that the king's ghost showed up to the guards, Horatio, and Marcellus rather than to his son, which is the person he actually needs to talk to. The ghost doesn't even respond to those who seem him, so how do we know if they actually saw it of they're just crazy. I also think that Hamlet really gets the bad end of this situation. His father dies and while Hamlet grieves, his mother keeps her lavish royal lifestyle by marrying her brother-in-law and trying to convince her son that all is well. Obviously, all is not well.

Period 2 Essential Question:
To be or not to be? When is a life not worth living? Who gets to decide if someone should live or die?

Although we haven't read very far into the play, this idea of deciding whether someone should live or die is seen when Hamlet's father is killed and we know it was Claudius who killed him. Claudius believed that he had the authority to decide whether his brother should remain alive or not. I am curious to know what kind of person thinks that they have this authority. I feel as though these kind of people have very large egos, which I think Claudius shows evidence of. In Act 1 Scene 2, he addresses a crowd of grieving people and announces that he is shacking up with the woman his brother loved. This is obviously the kind of person who believes he can determine whether a life is not worth living.

Passage From Act 1 Scene 2:

'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,

To give these mourning duties to your father:

But, you must know, your father lost a father;

That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound

In filial obligation for some term

To do obsequious sorrow: but to persever

In obstinate condolement is a course

Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;

It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,

A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,

An understanding simple and unschool'd:
-King Claudius

I found this passage interesting because Claudius begins by trying to sooth Hamlet's anger by telling him his grief is "sweet and commendable," but the passage gradually moves towards Claudius telling Hamlet that his grief "shows a will most incorrect to heaven." Claudius also says that "your father lost a father," trying to minimize the significance of the former king's death. However, what Hamlet doesn't know in this passage is that the man telling him to not grieve over his father's death is doing so because he was the one who killed him, which makes this passage somewhat ironic.