William Shakespeare and Hamlet
by: Charlie Ill
Shakespeare’s Life and Times
- Born on Henley Street, Statford-upon-Avon, England
- Unknown birthdate, but baptized on April 26, 1564
- Married Anne Hathaway on Nov 28, 1582
- children: Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith
- 1592 - earned a living as an actor and a playwright in London; produced many plays
- although the theater culture wasn't highly admired by people of high social class, Shakespeare's works were
- 1599 - built a theater on the south bank of the Thames River called the Globe
- wrote plays in the conventional style of the day; used elaborate metaphors and rhetorical phrases that didn't always align naturally with the story's plot or characters
- innovative plays that adapted the traditional style to his own purposes and created a freer flow of words
- used blank verse and unrhymed iambic pentameter
- Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, which was his supposed birthday
- His ability to summarize the range of human emotions in a simple and eloquent verse are partially why he is so popular today.
- Shakespeare was a great story teller that transcended time and culture; his characters are compelling and complex; he had the ability to turn a phrase and create clichés and common expressions in his plays.
- He wrote his sonnets about the famous "dark lady" and "the young man"
- He was influenced by the Renaissance Era (1350 - 1550) and incorporated the three core values of this time period in his works: rebirth of commerce, interests of the classical cultures of Ancient Greece and Rome, and confidence in human potential
- Shakespeare had audience members from every social class
- his female characters had more freedom to explore their sexuality, but were still owned by their husbands, fathers, or employers
Tips When Reading Shakespeare's Plays
- Read a plot summary online, before reading the original text.
- Read his plays using an annotated copy so that it is easier to point out themes and important scenes.
- Ask yourself questions about the characters, main events, relationships, and how the play relates to life and destiny.
Video SparkNotes: Shakespeare's Hamlet Summary
Hamlet the Ghost
Hamlet the Prince
Hamlet the Prince
- Prince of Denmark
- about 30 years old
- hates his uncle's scheming
- reflective, thoughtful, indecisive, rash, impulsive
- Queen of Denmark
- Hamlet's mother
- recently married to Claudius
- loves Hamlet, but it a shallow and weak woman, who would rather be loved and have a high social status than to be moral and truthful
- Polonius's daughter
- beautiful, young woman that Hamlet is in love with
- sweet and innocent
- obeys her father and brother, Laertes
- dependent on men
- sings songs about flowers
- drowns in a river
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
- The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius's court
- conniving old man
- father of Laertes and Ophelia
- Polonius's son and Ophelia's brother
- young man who spends much of the play in France
- passionate and quick to act
- a foil for the reflective Hamlet
- Elsinore is located on the northeast coast of the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark
- Revenge Tragedy: a tragedy where a murder victim is avenged, often by a younger kinsmen, and usually results in the death of both the murderer and the avenger.
- There are theories that Shakespeare may have used ideas from an older writer to create Hamlet; it is also believed that the story is based on Byzantine, Roman, and Greek myths.