Drama and Hamlet

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Drama and Hamlet. There are three basic elements to drama. Dialogue – what characters say to one another. Action – what characters do in the play. Gesture – what character express through motion and expression. Things that will help you with drama analysis:
Drama and HamletThere are three basic elements to drama.
  • Dialogue – what characters say to one another.
  • Action – what characters do in the play.
  • Gesture – what character express through motion and expression.
  • Things that will help you with drama analysis:
  • Setting, structure, characterization, dramatic irony, theme
  • Elements of DramaThere are two major types of drama.
  • Tragedy
  • Comedy
  • It has been said that all of literature has two faces:
  • The destruction of man (All tragedy ends in death and defeat)
  • The continuation of life (All comedy ends in marriage)
  • Types of DramaThere are three concepts in tragedy one must consider.
  • Crisis of feeling – a painful or harmful experience that may hurt or harm the audience.
  • Catharsis or Purgation – the audience is able to purge emotion through watching the play, and thus feel better; uplifted.
  • Reversal/Peripeteia – the hero or heroine goes through a specific change in fortune for the worse (usually comes after a discovery)
  • Greek TragedyThere are three major types of comedy.
  • Satire – mean barbs/jokes are aimed at people, ideas, or things, in order to improve, prevent, or correct something.
  • Romantic – involves a love affair that does not run smoothly, but ends happily.
  • Absurd (Black) – unusual, weird, or uncomfortable comedy that portrays the world as unstable.
  • ComedyIt is through language that the plays’ full dramatic power is realized.
  • People in Shakespeare’s own time found his plays difficult and bordering on intelligibility.
  • “Read him, therefore, again and again; and if you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger not to understand him.” –Henry Condell
  • Shakespeare’s LanguageWord meaning has changed in the last 400 years.
  • “let”
  • “I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me”
  • In this context, let means to “hinder”
  • Shakespeare’s words serve a dual function
  • 1. In part, they describe what the character sees or does.
  • 2. The words often also betrays the way a character feels.
  • Shakespeare’s plays are a mixture of verse and prose.
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor” is only 13% verse.
  • King John is entirely verse.
  • Most plays are right about 70% verse.
  • The verse is usually non-rhyming iambic pentameter (blank verse), though this is altered at points for effect.
  • The stresses alert readers to things that are important (u’)
  • A nine syllable line ends unstressed, as does an 11 syllable line. This is called a feminine ending and can suggest pause or dramatic effect.The prose is just as important.
  • This shift from verse to prose is always representative of something.
  • It could signify the shift from “high” social character to “low” social character (humor)
  • Later on, Shakespeare used prose more in his comedies.
  • Shifts in verse/prose may be emotional (i.e. The Merchant of Venice)
  • Prose becomes representative of “daily-ness” or of common sense.
  • Hamlet is William Shakespeare’s most studied play; there is a reason for that.
  • The character Hamlet is an icon for modernity, meaning he has a modern, philosophical, introspective personality [conscience ](an odd thing to have for a warrior-prince).
  • Consider the theme revenge.
  • Consider the self. What does it mean to be yourself.
  • Can you be patterned after another? Are you ever wholly original?
  • Things to consider in HamletConsider action vs. stasis.
  • Consider fate vs. fortune vs. free will.
  • Consider alienation.
  • Consider Freud and psychoanalysis.
  • Consider solitude vs. company.
  • Consider belonging vs. autonomy.
  • Consider paranoia.
  • Consider Old Hamlet vs. Claudius vs. Young Hamlet.
  • More…Consider this:
  • “The being of yourself, or the dream of being yourself, and that dream being spoiled by the bonds to others.”
  • Consider being “part” and “apart” (the age old existential crisis)
  • Consider false friendship.
  • Consider the emptiness of social ritual.
  • Consider forgiveness.
  • Consider the obsession humans have with futurity.
  • Consider feeling too large for expression:
  • “I feel the weight of what I say, because it’s never what I mean.” –YBF
  • Consider “time being out of joint”
  • Consider death as an escape from self.
  • Consider what happens when your true self doesn’t fit with your role or the expectations of you.
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