215 * Grammar of Drama * bedfordstmartins.com/jacobus (textbook) + groups.yahoo.com/group/dramlit must subscribe, if in class!
Writing Assignments: The Message of Hamlet?

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Syllabus
THR215 DramLit
* The Compact Bedford Intro to Drama (textbook) *

Tragedy after Aristotle + HamletDreams 2001 (scenes) * Love Story (Two Hamlets, two Ophelias) *

Stoppard 2008

Tragedy: Hamlet, Comedy: Taming of the Shrew + the 12th Night (THR Theory pages)


SHOWS: 12th Night
The Classical tragedians appreciated the conflict between fate and free will. At the heart of every great tragedy lies the universal struggle between the human inclination to accept fate absolutely and the natural desire to control destiny. Both Sophocles and Shakespeare would agree that the forces of destiny and choice continually vie for control of human life. Yet, each of these great playwrights espouses a perspective on the struggle born of his specific time and culture. For the Greek Sophocles, fate far overpowers human will; the harder a man works to avoid his fate, the more surely he catapults forth into that very fate. Sophocles’ characters ultimately surrender, after resistance, recognition, and reversal, to their destinies; Sophocles’ plays warn against the pride that deceives us into believing we can alter fate through human intervention. For Shakespeare—a Christian—the choice between good and evil represents man’s basic dilemma; for him, the human will is indomitable. Though fate may ultimately win, a man must fight to the death, if necessary, in order to remain the master of his own choices—choices that ultimately decide if and how his fate defeats him. The contrast between the two points of view is a note-worthy feature of any comparison between Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Oedipus vs. Hamlet: Free Will and Fate * cliffsnotes.com

[ Elizabethan era & Comparison of the English and Italian Renaissances, when we transit from Shakespeare ]

Quiz online Act i-ii * iii-v *

Cultural Context

The cultural context of this play is kingship, aristocracy and the political landscape. The monarch at this time was believed to have divine sanction.

The role of women: Women were seen as weak characters and victims of the actions of men.

Marriage: Marriage was not held in very high esteem, particularly among the nobility, however, marriage to a brother-in-law or sister-in-law was considered incest.

Honour and loyalty to one's parents: Honour and loyalty to one's parents were important features of the society's value system. This is particularly evident in Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes, all of whom are called in some way to avenge a wrong done to their father.

Corruption and betrayal: Corruption and betrayal are rife in the play, as can be seen from the behaviour of Claudius and Polonius.

Critical Reading:
Coleridge 408 -- balance between the real and imagination
Freud -- Oed. roots, repressed.
T.S. Eliot -- no logic, no desire for the throne.


Shakespeare in Hamlet Dreams.

Stoppard (first) Preview ?

Story > Hero, or Hero > Story... and Idea(s).

...


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Dramatic Literature Part Two

[ "Christian Hero" ] http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/spd130et/medieval.htm

Modern Times

Early Modernity = English Renaissance (16-17 c.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance : 2000 years since The Greeks are missing!

Shakespeare

Hamlet Act I *

2005 Fall -- THR215 Dramatic Literature :

Part 1. Oedipus

Part 2. Hamlet

Part 3. Chekhov (Cherry Orchard) and High Modernism

Part 4. Postmodern: Becket

Part 5. Writing

Main script.vtheatre.net & 2005 THR215 * Antiquity I * Modern Times II * High Modern (Realism) III * Postmodern (Absurdism) IV * V *
Bedford Textbook INTRO to DRAMA (Fifth Edition 2005) 0312414412
* Compare and contrast Oedipus and Hamlet. Is Oedipus more a man of action? Or is he more a man driven by whim and sudden, rash decisions? Which character is more selfless? Does Hamlet show any signs of selfish motives in his actions or inactions? Which protagonist seems more learned? wiser? more religious? more loving? more incestuous? Which seems to be a better murder investigator? [ paper ]
* Both protagonists were passionately determined to find the truth (meaning of life?).
* Both were impulsive? Emotional, passionate...
* Both had immense self-pride (honor), but--
Ultimately, both were good natured.

They seek revenge for their fathers (although this is ironic in Oedipus Rex) -- "Fathers and Sons" (themes)
Although O's "arrogance" may have led to his downfall, it is their impulsiveness that does in each man: O's decree of exile parallels the gods' requirements, but Hamlet's stabbing of Ophelia's father right after NOT stabbing Claudius means that, in the grand scheme of things, he will have to die rather than assume the throne...

Both plays are tragedies that result from behind-the-scenes machinations--the gods plot against O's family because of Laius, while King Hamlet's brother plots against him (intrigue -- modern "drama" and "bad guys").

[Symbols: Perhaps the vivid imagery of poison in Hamlet parallels the curse "in the family blood" in Greek tragedies in Oedipus Rex.] -- Who is Hamlet's father? Is Ophelia pregnant? What is Hamlet "tragic flaw"? [ Hamlet's fatal flaw, as seen by Aristotle, would be his failure to act immediately to kill Claudius. Unlike Oedipus, however, Hamlet is well aware of his fatal flaw from the outset. He constantly questioned himself on why he continues to delay the fulfillment of his duty. In doing so, his continuous awareness and doubt (e.g. using the play-within-the-play to make sure the Ghost was telling the truth) incapacitates him from acting. ]

Summary

A tragic hero was considered to need a catharsis(psychoanalysis) purging of emotional tensions -- catharsis, or a moment of emotional purgation, but it comes at a time when it is too late to change the course of events already in motion. Each new era of literature brings new definitions of what a hero must be in a tragedy. Aristotle's definition remains the yardstick against which all other forms of heroes are measured. (Audience and Catharsis)

Some other common traits characteristic of a tragic hero:
He must suffer (being between people and gods)
He must be doomed from the start (fate?)
He must be fundamentally "noble in nature" (good)
His story should arouse (1)fear and (2)pity
Though doomed, he must have free choice (will) to some degree?

Notes

From the beginning of Modern Age (Shakespeasre) to High Modernity (Chekhov) = Modernism

Modernity is a term used to describe the condition of being "Modern". Since the term "Modern" is used to describe a wide range of periods, modernity must be taken in context.
Modern can mean all of post-medieval European history, in the context of dividing history into three large epochs: Antiquity or Ancient history, the Middle ages, and Modern. It is also applied specifically to the period beginning somewhere between 1870 and 1910, through the present, and even more specifically to the 1910-1960 period.
[ see wikipedia ]

 


  


Next : 3. Chekhov

Shakespeare Pages (Theatre Theory):
Shakespeare (Tragedy)
S-Comedy
S-Histories

Shakespeare in DramLit 2005 *

Next: part III
[ term to review again: Peripeteia is a reversal of circumstances, or turning point. Primarily used with reference to works of literature. ] A show-within-a-show or a play within a play -- www.absoluteastronomy.com + Diegesis in contrast to mimesis [ telling rather than showing ]
Google
  Web vtheatre.net   
See who's visiting this page.index 215 - II Diegesis may concern elements, such as characters, events and things within the main or primary narrative. (film and novel)

2005-2006 Theatre UAF Season: Four Farces + One Funeral & Godot'06
Film-North : AA

Previous Section [ I ] * next : Unit III