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Hamlet Summary

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Hamlet Notes

Tragedy is the downfall of a man because of a weakness in his personality. This weakness leaves him unable to negotiate successfully the conflict that he experiences in the outside world. Consequently, when he encounters evil, he is unable to make the right decision.
A tragic hero has a moment of insight in which he realises his error. However, this insight comes too late for him to address his sillinesses/error. The tragic hero always dies.

The key to understanding this play is a close and insightful study of the soliloquies in the play.

Act 1 Scene 1( pg 3-13)
Horatio will be the fall for the mercurial Hamlet. Horatio is quiet and well balanced and becomes a notable witness. At the beginning of the play, Denmark is not only socially, morally and culturally questionable but politically unstable. Norway, lead by Fortenbras is leading a campaign to reclaim the lands lost to Norway as a consequence of the Danish King Hamlet. At the end of this scene, the appearance if the ghost. King Hamlet. He was poisoned by Claudius. He was married to Gertrude, Claudius was Gertrude's brother-in-law—-> affair

Act 1 Scene 2(pg 13-31)
Set against the splendour of the court, scene 2 juxtaposes the mysteries and frightening opening scene. The court of Denmark represents hypocrisy and excess. We are introduced immediately to Claudius. He is suave and worldly wise. His idiom, register and tone of speech will create a suspicion. He is of course the antithesis of Hamlet as he is manipulative and expedient. Claudius is the epitome of a hypocrite, he is glib/assertive in rationalising. He rationalised his union with Gertrude, he is cynical and is critical.

“A little more than kin and less than kind”(pg 17) I am more than a relation or a kin (I am your son and your nephew) I am however not so close as a real relation or kin because your marriage is incestuous…...

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