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Wesley Viola English 2/20/13 Hamlet Log Act 1, Scene 1: In this opening scene, Shakespeare introduces Denmark with

a dark sense of foreboding by having it haunted by a former king. The castles watchmen, Bernardo and Marcellus, are in terror at this apparition and urge the skeptic Horatio to stand watch with them and witness it for himself. Very soon they see the ghost but just as quickly, it disappears. It is enough for Horatio to dispel his doubts and immediately feel the fear that the watchmen felt; he recognizes the ghost of the former king and he trembles and looks pale(51). Everything about the ghost bodes ill for the state of Denmark. It frowns, it is clad in his armor, and it goes along the walls with a martial stalk as if it has a problem with what is going on inside the castle. After it vanishes, the three discuss the state of Denmark and what trouble might be brewing. Interestingly, they speak about a matter of revenge. Fortinbras of Norway threatens Denmark and has gathered a group of mercenaries to avenge his fathers death, and now the Danish country is preparing for war. The ghost of the king also portends troubles of revenge, but they are of a different rivalry between Hamlet and the king Claudius. Denmark is not only in danger of outside disputes but is soon to be shaken by inner disputes. The superstitious elements of Hamlet begin in this very first scene. Marcellus and Barnardo are crazed about the ghost they claim they have seen two nights in a row, but their frightened reactions are not terrifically credible to Horatio Tush, tush, twill no appear. By having a skeptic and a scholar so instantly given to fear and wonder at the sight of the ghost, I think Shakespeare might be either revealing his own superstitious beliefs or trying to make this apparition seem more real and believable. He seems intent on not letting Horatio keep his doubts or attribute the sight to some trick of the eyes. And just before the ghost enters again, it is Horatio speaking of Romes tenantless graves and risen corpses. I think it is interesting how these three characters, scared as they are, seem to have no problem yelling at and ordering the ghost to Speak! Speak! Speak! This must mean that the watchmen are not so worried about any harm coming directly from the ghost itself - after all they nearly throw a spear at it but are rather terrified and desperate to know what it wants and why it has come to them. Compared to modern stories of ghosts and ghouls, this situation has a much different type of suspense and danger.

Act 1, Scene 5: In this very suspenseful scene, we discover what is so rotten in the state of Denmark. The ghost of the king reveals that a serpent now sits on the throne and that serpent killed King Hamlet and now sleeps with his wife. Hamlet seems to have been dying to hear this and urges the ghost of his father at every point O God!, Murder?, Haste me to knowt! until he is finally told what he says to have known all along. Though Hamlet certainly needs no extra incitement, the ghost spurs him on with a graphic recollection of his murderous uncles deeds Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast!in the porches of my ear did pour the leperous distilmentand a most instant tetter barked about, with vile and loathsome crust all my smooth bodyoh horrible, oh horrible, most horrible!(42-80). Though Hamlet also sends up cries of misery O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?(92), in a way, I think he has been wanting to hear all of this. His grief is completely solidified now and his suspicions and his prophetic soul are proven to be true. Knowing that his father was indeed murdered gives him a purpose that he can channel his discontent into. When Hamlet returns from his walk with the ghost, his interactions with Marcellus and Horatio are not very believable. Just the night before, the two were overwhelmed with desperation to know what sign the ghost meant. Now as Hamlet returns from his long walk to Horatio and Marcellus, who were no doubt held in the most suspenseful moments of their lives, he just responds to their exclamations joking Theres neer a villain dwelling in all Denmark/But hes an arrant knave(126) and saying they should just go their separate ways now and mind their own businesses. For Marcellus and Horatio, this is somehow a tolerable remark and Horatio even apologizes. Judging from their intense need to know the night before, the reaction of these two is completely unbelievable, especially with how lightly Hamlet handles the situation. Shakespeare again plays with superstition to make Hamlets encounter with the ghost especially suspenseful. The apparition does not speak straight away about Claudiuss corruption, even though it is short on time with dawn soon approaching. It spends more than ten lines describing the secrets of purgatory how the lightest word/would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood(15-16). Though the ghost essentially says very little about the superstitious world, these lines draw much suspense before the acts most important revelation.

Act 2, Scene 1: In this scene, Polonius sends off his servant Reynaldo to France to make inquire about Laertes behavior. He wants Reynaldo to ask around about what kind of Danish people are there and see if anyone knows of a Laertes that is very wild or addicted or drinking or quarreling or drabbing. Though this kind of check up seems appropriate to Polonius, Reynaldo is taken aback that this type of talk would dishonor Laertes but, my good lord - (36). After Reynaldo is sent off, Ophelia enters after being frightened by a mad Hamlet. Apparently Hamlet had grabbed her, stared at her, and after a long time backed out of the room, never looking away. Before this, Ophelia had cut herself off from Hamlet as Polonius suggested. Polonius now suspects that Hamlets madness can be attributed to a crazed love for Ophelia and he goes off to tell Claudius. In this scene, Polonius proves again to be a poor father. With both Ophelia and Laertes, he has been controlling and distrustful. Before, when Ophelia tells Polonius of the affection that Hamlet has shown to her, he scoffs and belittles any perspective that Ophelia has Affection! Pooh you speak like a green girl (Act 1, Scene 3, line 101). Now, he shows a similar distrust toward Laertes and uses a spy to ensure he knows all about his sons behavior in France. Throughout his lengthy instructions to Reynaldo, he gives no hint that this inquiry might not even be necessary; only at the very end does he remark that Laertes might actually be doing what he should be doing And let him ply his music(82), and even this sounds offhand and doubtful. There was a confusing bit to this scene - why Hamlet would act so madly in front of Ophelia. As I understand it, the reason he originally adopts this behavior is to throw Claudius off balance as he takes out his revenge. If this is true, than his show in front of Ophelia seems unnecessary since he does not need to involve her and unlikely since his sincerely loves her. Creeping her out as he did certainly did not have a good effect on any relationship he might wish to build so I am not sure why he would do this. One explanation that does come to mind is that showcasing his madness in front of the chamberlains daughter would reach the ears of Claudius quickly. If this was Hamlets purpose, then it was successful because Polonius immediately goes to tell Claudius of his daughters encounter with Hamlet. Though this is plausible, I still do not think it is likely because Hamlet would be sacrificing a lot of his relationship with Ophelia for something that he could probably have achieved in another way.

Act 2, Scene 2: In this scene, Shakespeare adds a lot of humor to Polonius and while I know that comic relief is important in and of itself, I wonder what Polonius ramblings mean for him as a character. After the ambassadors inform Claudius of old Fortinbras intentions, Polonius explains his understanding of Hamlets erratic behavior in a very convoluted and self-contradicting manner. He begins, since brevity is the soul of wit I will be brief(91-93) after which he says that Hamlet is mad, calling it madness because how else can he define madness but by saying it is madness. Though Gertrude tells him to speak more directly and to the point, Polonius continues with this roundabout way of explaining Hamlets state and insists that he is indeed speaking succinctly. He goes on, And now remains/That we find the cause of this effect,/or rather say, the cause of this defect,/For this effect defective comes by cause(103-105). Since this is the first time Polonius has spoken this way, I wonder if he is consciously affecting his speech to play with Gertrude and Claudius. If it is not on purpose and Polonius really does believe he is being brief, I wonder if the language reflects his characters senility and if Shakespeare is poking fun at the elderly. The conversation that follows, between Polonius and Hamlet, is an interesting transition because roles are reversed. Now Hamlet, though pretending, is the babbling idiot and Polonius has to figure out what he is saying. He nonsensically contradicts himself just like Polonius did moments ago - asked what he is reading, Hamlet replies Slanders, sir all which, sir, I most powerfully/and potently believe(200-201). It is an especially funny dialogue because Hamlet is at the peak of his insanity and Polonius seems to just pleasantly agree with whatever he says Thats very true, my lord(181) and follows every one of his short replies with , my lord which, as a chamberlain, seems excessive. Though he plays with him for a while, Hamlet certainly has little patience for Polonius and recognizes his infirmity - when their conversation ends, he says to himself These tedious old fools!(218) and later refers to him as the great baby that is not yet out of his swaddling-cloths. I was impressed by Hamlets patience and caution in his planning to catch the conscience of the king. After he was overwhelmed by grief and after his suspicions were so explicitly confirmed by the ghost of his father, it seemed like he would recklessly take out his revenge, like he only needed a push. Here, though, Hamlet is very careful about what information he really has to act on and will not let his hate for the present situation make him do anything too rash.

Act 3, Scene 1: I think this is the most confusing scene yet since Hamlet acts very unpredictably. First, it does not seem right that he would be considering suicide, or at least yet. It seems like he should be bent on revenge or on his plans to discover if Claudius is really a murderer. How can Hamlet win his revenge if he kills himself? It is obvious that he is in tortured, miserable state but it seems like the human drive for revenge, especially if spurred on by extraordinary circumstances and revelations (the visit by the ghost), should be more dominant than the helplessness that overtakes Hamlet in his to be or not to be soliloquy. This wavering just does not seem to follow from the urgency that he showed during his conversation with his fathers ghost. A plausible explanation might be that Hamlet is being tortured by a period waiting. Since he set himself to catching the conscience of the king, he cannot let himself act on the ghosts information and is now forced to be patient. His pained helplessness might come from this, though he does not explicitly mention this particular waiting. There is a bit of irony in Hamlets soliloquy. He is wavering because though life is exceedingly troublesome, the uncertainty of what comes after death is too frightening for suicide to be a comforting escape. He dreads that undiscovered country/From whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will(80-81). The irony is that Hamlet did in fact meet a traveler who returned from the afterlife who at least tried to tell him what it is like. The ghosts descriptions, however, were not very encouraging so they probably would not help Hamlet in his deliberations. The conversation between Ophelia and Hamlet is also very baffling. I am not even sure if Shakespeare meant for Ophelia entrance to be humorous she asks Hamlet how he is doing after he has just finished considering suicide. When she asks him to take his love letters back, Hamlets behavior becomes very unpredictable. He speaks more in riddles Are you honest? Are your fair?(105-107) - than anything else and denies presently loving Ophelia since he has now come to an understanding of beauty and honesty. He grows progressively more upset and erratic as the conversation goes on and sounds like Sweeney Todd as he claims in an epiphany-like state that everyone is as worthless and bad as he is. Though we dont all deserve to die, Hamlet believes that no one deserves to be born so he renounces all marriage and repeats madly, to a nunnery, go! The interesting thing is that Hamlet seems to have fallen into actual madness whereas before he was just pretending. In front of Polonius, there was a reason to behave crazy to unease King Claudies and his advisors. In front of Ophelia, however, there is next to no reason to act mad, especially with the intensity that Hamlet does so. He has already showcased his pretend insanity more than enough so it is therefore unlikely that his behavior in this interaction is fake. Also, since this dialogue follows his pondering of suicide, a depressive low point, Hamlet is set up to really go into a mania.

Act 3, Scene 2: Act 3, Scene 1 seems to be a discontinuity in Hamlets character because in this next scene he returns, seemingly very sane, to his plan of catching King Claudius in a moment of guilt. The scene begins with his instructing of the actors on how to act. It is ironic because he speaks of balance of not overdoing the passions of a character yet at the same time not being too tame right after he himself has just come out of a manic fit. Now, however, Hamlet speaks very calmly and very articulately as he focuses on setting up the play. In fact, he is the happiest he has been all play - he speaks politely to Polonius and his mother and even jokes with Ophelia. What should a man do/but be merry?(114-115), Hamlet says. He even pokes fun at himself for still wearing black mourning clothes four months after his fathers death. Hamlet and Ophelias interactions seem very unbelievable after this acts first scene. He completely lost his mind in front of her and yelled at her in what must have been an extremely disconcerting few minutes. Ophelia now, however, does not seem to be very fazed at all. She shows no sign of that distressing scene as she replies almost pleasantly to Hamlets remarks, you are naught, you are naught. Ill mark the play(132). Hamlets insanity, pretend in this case, is very different when he speaks with Polonius. At the end of this scene, the conversation between these two is more like comic relief and it contrasts strongly with the dark, frightening fit that took over Hamlet in the previous scene. Here, Polonius enters with a serious request that he should go speak with his very upset mother. Hamlet responds by pointing to a cloud that he says looks like a camel. When Polonius agrees, By th mass, and tis like a camel indeed(348), Hamlet remarks that it looks like a weasel and then, after another agreement from Polonius, that is has the back of a whale. When Hamlet is in control of his sanity and conscious puts on a crazy front, as in this case, it is a very silly and foolish looking display. When he does legitimately lose his mind, as in the previous scene, it has a very disturbing and destructive effect.

Act 4, Scene 4: In this scene, Hamlet sees Fortinbras troops as he is about to board his ship to England. The Norwegian troops are on their way to Poland to fight for a little patch of land that is not worth anything and for Hamlet, this is an inspiring example of action. He goes into a soliloquy expressing his admiration at how quickly these Norwegians will take up arms for something as small as an insignificant piece of Poland. He defines greatness as finding quarrel in a straw/When honors at stake(54-55) and vows to take up his own bloody ambitions. I found Fortinbras part in the play to be confusing. At the very beginning, Shakespeare creates the troubled atmosphere of Denmark by having Fortinbras and his army pose as a real threat rumors of war were spreading and Danish soldiers were preparing for war. In Act 2 we find out that the king of Norway has no intention of attacking Denmark and forces Fortinbras to turn his army towards Poland instead. So by Act 4, this threat is reduced to nothing and the Norwegian troops march right through Denmark. Though the march provides Hamlet with some material to reflect on, I do not see any other real significant purpose to Fortinbras part in the play. It does deal with revenge, which is obviously thematically relevant, but the this story seems to go nowhere and is kind of disappointing since it was so well highlighted at the beginning of the play. In his soliloquy, Hamlet recognizes how little he has really done in terms of revenge since he learned the truth of his fathers murder. He is so frustrated by his own inaction because he sees marching in front of him evidence of a great quarrel started over just a tiny matter of honor. At this sight, he makes a rather extreme remark that, Rightly to be great,/Is not to stir without great argument,/But greatly to find quarrel in a straw/When honor is at stake(52-55). If the world was filled by people with this perspective, it would very chaotic to say the least. Hamlet might be right to recognize that he has long had reason enough to act violently, but I think this statement blows those feelings way out of proportion by calling it great to act impulsively on small reasons of honor. It is ironic that Hamlet curses himself in the beginning of the soliloquy for thinking too precisely on thoughts which he calls three parts coward when he ought to be taking action. After he has finished admiring the greatness of Norways action, he ends by focusing again on just his thoughts, however bloody he might vow to make them.

Act 4, Scene 7 In this scene, Claudius finds his enemys enemy, his friend, and is rather manipulative. Claudius seems especially cold hearted as he spurs on Laertes vengeance by questioning whether he even feels for the death of his father: Laertes, was your dear to you?/Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,/A face without heart?(106-108). Asked for proof, in actions not words, that Laertes is his fathers son, Claudius wins the reply To cut Hamlets throat in th church.(127). While Laertes is obviously upset and vengeful in his own right, Claudius seems to push to an extreme that Laertes would otherwise have not had found himself in. In this way, Claudius proves to be evil and deceptive and validates his title as a serpent. (Interestingly, Claudius manner of killing, with poison and in this case with a poison prick, is also in line with that of a snake). In more than a few words, Claudius speaks about the same matter that Hamlet was struggling with in scene four as he instructs Laertes to take his revenge: That we would do,/We should do when we would, for this would changes/And hath abatements and delays as many/as there are tongues, are hands, are accidents./And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh(118-121). Claudius worries that abatements and delays, no different from what has frustratingly kept Hamlet from taking his own revenge, will prevent Laertes from taking action and cause his woulds to reduce to ineffectual shoulds. Therefore, Laertes must rouse himself to act while he still has a strong will to do so. An interesting point is that Claudius does not let Laertes know that he has his own, separate intentions to kill Hamlet. When asked why he did not take more serious action against Hamlet after Polonius was killed, Claudius explains that the queen loves him too dearly and he is too much in the publics favor. At this point, he could have told Laertes that he did indeed order the death of Hamlet, though secretly, and probably win a good deal of trust, but he does not. An explanation of this might be that Shakespeare wants to paint a worse picture of Claudius. Claudius can essentially gain the same result if he acts honestly or manipulatively in both cases, Laertes will want to work with Claudius to kill Hamlet. By making Claudius behave deceptively and having him spur on Laertes with just provocative taunts What would you undertake/To show yourself in deed your fathers son?(124-125) Shakespeare truly makes him out to be an evil serpent.

Act 5, Scene 1: The scene opens with two gravediggers preparing Ophelia burial. Hamlet enters with Horatio and thoughtfully looks at the skulls being dug up. He wonders at who these are the remains of and how a lawyer might be reduced to an inanimate skull Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his/tenures and his tricks?(91-92). He learns that one skull belonged to a jester Jorick that he knew very well and recalls sadly how he used to be carried on his back. In the same way that he did with the lawyer, Hamlet asks where his jokes and pranks and songs are now. Finally, he realizes that this is the fate of all great men and that someone as powerful as Caesar is now only good for dust that he left when he died. Ophelias funeral procession comes on stage and before Hamlet can speak his grief for her death, he is attacked by Laertes. After they wrestle, Hamlet declares that Laertes feels only a fraction of his sadness for Ophelia because he was in love with her. When he gives a long description of his grief, Laertes calls it madness and all exit after Hamlet and Horatio. This scene is interesting because Hamlet is very directly confronted with death. His reaction is sadness and he shows that he does indeed value life. Considering the end of the lawyer, Caesar, and Alexander the Great, he expresses grief because they were once so much more than the stinking, lifeless skull that he now holds. With Jorick and Ophelia, he expresses a very strong love and laments or wails in the case of Ophelia for the end of their lives. This is completely opposite to the perspective that Hamlet gave before in Act 3, scene 1 when he, I believe, really did go insane. In that scene, he denied all worth of life because We are arrant knaves, all(III,i,130). Whereas before it had been better to Hamlet for no one to born and for Ophelia to isolate herself, he now seems sincerely and intensely sorry for her death, Joricks death, and even a nameless lawyers death. It is not clear whether Hamlet has changed his perspective over the course of the play or whether he, confronted with death, sees how much of a loss it really is. I think this is the plays best scene. The opening with the arguing gravediggers feels so nonchalant and sets the beginning of a transition to some of the plays most powerful and volatile action. Hamlet ponders the death of a nobody, then a friend, then someone great before finally realizing that he is standing at the grave of his dearly loved Ophelia. To add to this shock, he is viciously and unexpectedly attacked by Laertes and has to wrestle him off before he can even fully consider what horrible thing he has just found out.

Act 5, Scene 2: I was surprised to see in this scene how justly Hamlet felt at sending Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths. He claims that their defeat/Does by their own insinuations grow(61-62), that they knowingly betrayed Hamlet. I am fairly sure that Rosencrantz and Guildernstern were not explicitly told by Claudius that Hamlet would be executed in England and, with the kings note sealed, it seems like a lot to assume that they knew or could even guess at what was really happening. The two were also childhood friends of Hamlet and, though they may have obeyed Claudius a little too much, it never seemed like they were malicious. With Hamlet deteriorating state, they could have even acted with some level of care for his wellbeing though have been unsure exactly how to do him good. With these many valid doubts, I think Hamlet is wrong to so confidently condemn the two. I really did like to see, however, Hamlet and Laertes reconcile before both dying. It is interesting that, right after being attacked by Laertes, Hamlet can feel fellowship with him For by the image of my cause I see/The portraiture of his. Ill court his favors(81-82). After their fatal duel, Laertes takes the blame away from both of them Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet./Mien and myfathers death come not upon thee,/Nor thine on me.(330-333) - and rightly leaves it to Claudius since he was the one who set the two against each other. Both die with this being recognized and Hamlets last request to Horatio To tell my story(350) ensures that Claudius corruption will not be forgotten. The play began with Horatio and non-main characters and ends the same way (Fortinbras seems like a little less than a main character). While I really do not know why or if this is even significant, one explanation might be that it is fitting to frame the play with Horatio because he is the one entrusted by Hamlet to tell it.

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