Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mason: Hamlet Act One

To Faithful readers outside our Shakespeare Group:

In our group we are going to make a curriculum which proposes to teach Shakespeare and help students better process and understand by reacting creativly to the ideas and themes they find in the play. The play our group is doing is Hamlet. We are all reading through the play and looking to make our own connections and how they inspire us to show these things through our own creativity.

Horatio and the Ghost
The play starts out with the guards and a ghost. Interesting that an apparition that may or may not be there is how the play begins. A substanceless manifestation. The men are so scared of a being who cannot hurt them, " it harrows me with fear and wonder." Hamlet Sr. seems terrible and great but is unable to actually do anything in his ghostly state. This seems to be the same way Hamlet Jr. is. He is all sad and dramatic but it all seems so empty. In fact, empty words seems to be a family trait as Claudius gives his speech about how sad he is about the death of his brother, "Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death the memory be green, and that it us befitted to bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom to be contracted in one brow of woe." Let's be honest, he killed the guy, he doesn't care. Hamlet seems to see empty actions and words in his mother who hung so close to Hamlet Sr. but turned her back so quickly after his death.

Words without substance seem to be common despite Hamlets protestations of what "seems".

"Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe."

This all just moves on and on. Laertes tells Ophelia that Hamlet might be fake, she tells him not to be a hypocrite and give her advice that he doesn't keep. Polonius give's tons of advice and says lots of nice things seeming a good father but then turns and says mean things to Ophelia about her boyfriend, the prince-should-be-king Hamlet Jr.

"Empty" Family
The plot and everything moves forward and everything, but beneath the plot, or trancending the plot, however, seems to be a theme of falsness or "words without thoughts".

So I made these two sketches shown. The first one is Horatio and the Ghost. I tried to make Horatio look more substantial using a thicker marker, he just looks silly. The ghost is supposed to look like air. if I were to it again I would not do the Horatio thick marker thing. The second sketch is Gertrude, Hamlet, and Claudius. Gertrude is in half funeral dress and half wedding dress. Hamlet is all emo, and Claudius is a little silly looking with pajama looking things on (I am ashamed). All three of them have holes through their chest showing that they are empty, insubstantial, just like their words. 


  1. I like it. Another quote I thought of while reading this was when Claudius was praying and says "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go." It just reminded me of Claudius' empty words, and here he actually admits it.

  2. I have always thought that all of the characters are somewhat emotionally hollow, and you portray it well. Nice!