Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I think we had a great day with Act One today. In his introduction to the Barnes and Noble Hamlet, Jeff Dolven writes of the "three spheres" of the play, "family, state, and theater" (3). The issues that dominate these three spheres are "solitude and company, autonomy and longing" (3). In the play thus far, what reminders of the existences of each of these spheres has Shakespeare given you, the reader/viewer? Further, how do the set of binaries of "solitude and company" and "autonomy and longing" inhabit the play thus far? How are these issues evident in the words the character say? Can you offer any examples?


Anonymous said...

In acts one and two Hamlet constantly fights himself with with what he should do. On one hand, the ghost of his father may be a vision from the devil and so killing his uncle would be a work of the devil. On the other hand, if the ghost is real he must follow through with his fathers wishes and kill. He also reminds himself several times that taking his own life would forever damn him just as quickly as completing a deed from the devil. This man, Hamlet, is longing to confide in others about the possible treachery of his uncle. He also longs to be free of his family's guilt; free from both from his mother's hasty remarriage to a family member and from his father's undead request for vengeance.

--Heather McNeil

Anonymous said...

The story of Hamlet revolves around the family. Most of the conflict so far has been the result of changes in a family, specifically the death of the father and his being replaced by his own brother. The state has been an issue in the background story of war, Denmark's sudden expansion, and the possibility of a rebellion on the horizon. Because the rebellion remains as just a possibility, most citizens and the royalty are more concerned with their day-to-day lives. The theatre isn't addressed as much. Some lines towards the end of the third act do speak of the groundlings, the people standing on the ground close to the stage. Many of the characters used to be actors or study theatre and references to other theatres and Julius Caesar, another work by Shakespeare, are made.

Solitude and company are mainly present in the royal family in this play thus far. The king and queen are seldom separate and are usually accompanied by a number of other characters while their son, Hamlet, is constantly alone. This echoes the typical family after some form of internal strain occurs: typically, a troubled youth separates themselves from the rest of the family in his or her angst while the rest of the family goes on with little or no changes noticeable on the surface save for the growing concern for the angst-filled youth.

Autonomy and longing are also used well to set up the story. Hamlet's and Ophelia's solitudes appear to be those in which the lonely one longs for companionship. Ophelia's family appears to wish her to be autonomous in her loneliness.

~Matt Pryor

Anonymous said...

In Hamlet, we see the "three spheres" in that while Hamlet is dealing with a difficult transition in his personal, family life (the death of his father and the sudden re-marriage of his mother), he is also in the middle of a potentially country-wide crisis, the invasion of Fortinbras. Because Hamlet is a prince, the state problems become his problems (though he doesn't really take responsibility for them- his apathy prevents him from taking any part). Finally, we see the role of the play within the play and the role that drama played during Shakespeare's era. Hamlet, supposedly being a theatrical student, knew how to implement a plan to force the confession of his father's murder.

Anonymous said...

oops. left my name off my post. aunorsjet=Aaron Bentley

Anonymous said...

Solitude and company are clearly seen in state and theater. In the physical theater, this is shown through each patron's imagination of setting for example, even though they are all viewing the exact same play. In the play each character, like many Shak. plays, seem to have their own initiatives and motives. Often the seem to use other characters to get their own agenda passed. I imagine the tone of how certain lines are given, such as Polonious' conversations with Opehlia. He often seems like a puppeteer and is trying to orchestrate Hamlet and Opehlia's love to accomplish some goal we have not found out yet. Perhaps more power?

Anonymous said...

The reminders that Shakespeare gives are quite blunt. For family, the whole play shows the interactions of Hamlet, his mother-aunt, his father-uncle, and his deceased father. For state, Hamlet is supposed to assume the role of king which is why his mental ability comes into question. As king, he is not allowed to choose his own queen which is a major problem for Hamlet. For theater, Hamlet chooses to tell his mother-aunt of his father-uncle’s treacherous act against Hamlet’s father through a play. Hamlet’s play sets in motion the event of Hamlet telling his mother-aunt that he speaks to his deceased father and that she should not trust his father-uncle anymore.

-Edward Acree

Alejandro said...

It's gonna be hard to follow the preceding posts... but here it goes.

It would seem that the issue of solitude and autonomy are emphasized with Hamlet's character more than any other. With the recent death of his father and his mother's remarriage, Hamlet finds himself longing for normalcy. At the same time, this has set him in a position of solitude since his inability to act or communicate with those around becomes more difficult with the introduction of his father's ghost. Hamlet finds himself constantly in doubt as it becomes evident that his own autonomy isn't enough to overcome his hate for his uncle, his longing for his mother, and his inability to avenge his father's murder.

Santiago said...

These spheres can be layered in orders of importance. I feel that the most important sphere in the play is the sphere that contains family.Hamlet's motivations are dominated by the actions of his family.The binaries of "autonomy and longing" are apparent through Hamlet's possible decisions to act under his free will to kill Claudius and to act under his longing to avenge his father.

I feel that the second most important sphere is the one that contains state. The actions of Claudius are driven by the power that exists as ruler of a state. "Solitude and company" affect Hamlet in a stately manner through his interactions with Ophelia. Because of his position in the state, Hamlet is not allowed to pursue Ophelia which creates solitude and the longing for company.

The last sphere, theater,only has a minor role in the play. The use of a play within a play gives a somewhat dynamic interaction with the would-be audience. This clever system gives hamlet the ability to uncover the truth behind the murdering of his father.

-Santiago Flores