Oppositions (303)

Maybe focus on this for the moment:

As an opening gambit we broke into the play at the level of character. Ex. the Ghost, an unnatural (supernatural) figure, the victim of an unnatural act, who commands Hamlet to be a “natural” son and avenge him.

Thus the un/natural opposition as a theme with resonances throughout the play.

The Ghost also describes Gertrude as “seeming-virtuous,” echoing Hamlet’s response to her earlier: “‘Seems,’ madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems.” For Hamlet, mere appearance can never express true depth. Some things are ineffable. In the corrupted world of Elsinore, at least, all is show.

Thus two more oppositions: seeming/being and in/effable.

Consider the different ways these themes intersect. We might try this, again, at the level of character. Let’s pick Ophelia. So here’s what to expect a week from today: a return to Hamlet the play, focusing on Ophelia, in order to explore our triad of themes. Be sure to be familiar with her scenes. Above all, we’re interested in reflecting on the cultural construction of youth by thinking about youth’s function, its limits, and the expectations placed upon it (and also age distinctions in general: what do the young think about their elders? Ex. Hamlet and Gertrude). We’ll screen a few clips from various productions of Hamlet, including the communist one!

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