(This is extracted from my free and ad-free Hamlet website, which I've been working on for over 20 years. For more, please google for "Smith's Hyper Hamlet, then see my introductory essay, "How to Love Hamlet." ) I Know a Hawk from a Handsaw - Hamlet and the Spanish Armada HAMLET (2.2.387-388} I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw. BERNARDO (1.1.44-47} Last night of all, When yond same star that's westward from the pole Had made his course to illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, The "pole" is the North Star. "Westward from the pole" would be "north-northwest." Thus "I am but mad, north-northwest" means that Hamlet is only mad when under the influence of his father's ghost. "Pole" might also be an allusion to Reginald Pole, who, as Bloody Mary's Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, liked to call himself "the Pole Star" because he thought of himself as the guiding star about which the English people revolved. Please see Shakespeare, Breakspear, and Broken Pole (The Prophesy) (Note: I mark my speculations with green italics. The rest is accepted historical fact.) But Reginald Pole died of a broken heart when Queen Mary died and England reverted to Protestantism. Thirty years later, Queen Mary's widower, King Phillip of Spain sent the Duke of Medina Sidonia with the Spanish Armada to bring England back to the Catholic Church by "strong hands and terms compulsatory." But like Hamlet, Medina was but mad north-north-west: when the wind southerly,) he was sane. On August 8, Saint Dominic's Day, Medina decided that if the wind continued to blow from the south (which it did) he would have to abandon the attack on England. He was unable to recapture the faith of Englishmen by force. He did "it wrong, being so majestical, to offer it the show of violence, for it is, as the air, invulnerable, and vain blows malicious mockery." St Dominic had advocated reasoning with heretics to bring them back to the Church by persuasion rather than burning them. The significance of St Dominic's Day was not lost on English Catholics. From the context, "I know the difference between a hawk and a handsaw" clearly means "I am in my right mind." However, I don't know why Shakespeare used that phrase to denote sanity. It might be related to the following line in Hamlet's instructions to the players: HAMLET (3.2.4) . . . Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. In the tempest that had blown his Armada off course, Medina acquired and begat a temperance to abandon his vain blows against England. Perhaps "hand" is a pun on "Armada", similar to "Fort-in-bras" (near French for "strong arm"). It is worth noting that Shakespeare took pains to let us know that there had been a 30-year interval between the time old Fortinbras died and the time young Fortinbras came to reclaim those lands by strong hand and terms compulsatory. There was also a 30-year interval between the time Queen Mary died and the time her widower, Prince Phillip of Spain, sent the Spanish Armada to attempt to reclaim England by strong hand and terms compulsatory. Elsewhere Hamlet alludes to another war to recover lost land, with his cryptic reference to old Jephtha. HAMLET (2.2.418) Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah? . . . HAMLET (2.2.426) . . . 'It came to pass, as most like it was, "As most like it was" sounds like "so like the king that was." BERNARDO (1.1.121-124)) . . . . so like the king that was and is the question of these wars. That is Hamlet's dilemma - whether "to be or not to be," like the Ghost, "so like the king that was and is the question of these wars." So like so many kings, his father, or old Jephtha. The story of Jephtha, in Judges 11, sounds most like the story of the king that was and is the question of these wars. The Ammonites were preparing for war against Israel to recover land Israel had taken from them, just as young Fortinbras was preparing for war to recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands so by his father lost in the fatal duel with old King Hamlet. Judges 11.12 ... What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? Judges 11.13 ...Because Israel took away my land... now therefore restore those lands again And you, the judges, bear a wary eye. (5.2.278) Also please see The Memory Be Green - Hamlet in Historical Context The Madness of Hamlet How to Love Hamlet
Title says it all basically , how did this scene affect the plot (i.e. Claudius ordered Hamlet to leave for england)
Hello all! I am a college sophomore. In less than twelve hours I need to submit a 12 page essay about Hamlet. I am supposed to include another work from the course to argue with it. I was thinking Don Quixote. But if I can write a good paper without a second argument i would rather do that than submit a bad one that includes two texts. My problem is that like Hamlet I am indecisive. This is the assignment --The final 10-12 pages, double-spaced, size 12 Times New Roman, including works cited. These will be an argumentative analysis on a topic of your choice. These will consider two of the texts we cover. I want to write a great paper but I can't decide where to focus it. I was thinking about the idea of madness, how hamlet is relative because it focuses on the individual, Hamlet and queer theory, how it is philosophical, or existential, so on.....The problem is I do see hamlet in myself, and this makes it difficult. I am intrigued by the philosophy in Hamlet, what it means to be alive, and so forth. But I am afraid that if I take this route I will not properly analyze the text and I will not have a central argument. The point is I cannot decide or make a thesis statement to save my life right now. I am afraid I will make it a philosophy or psychology maybe even sociology paper. Any help to get me started on a solid and workable topic would be so deeply appreciated. I am open to ANY ideas.
Hi, Everyone! What did you all think of scene one in Hamlet? Do you have any questions?
"Time is out of joint" notwithstanding, I'm confused about how time passes in act 1, scene 1. They meet and clearly state that it's 12 midnight. The ghost disappears on account of the rooster crowing, meaning morning is coming soon. While Marcellus mentions (l.158) that around xmas, "the bird of dawning singeth all night long" - it makes the phenomenon seem as if it is not happening then - as if he's talking about a different time from that of the scene. By a liberal estimate, the whole scene could take a maximum half an hour, meaning the rooster crowed at 12:30am. Why is time in this night so compressed? Why would none of the characters find it weird, even if Shakespeare wanted for us to feel that time was 'out of joint'? The midnight sun would not be shining on a Denmark during a cold season.
My teacher posed this question a few days ago, and I'd like to get some opinions. IS Hamlet a coming-of-age story? does more than one character "come of age"? Thanx!
More importantly, why do you feel the need to spam your question is as many sub-forums as you can you nitwit...
"The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn No traveller returns" Why does Hamlet insist that no traveler returns when his father has already, so to speak, returned from that country?
This movie is an experimental adaptation that, in terms of the plot, plays Hamlet on a sort of loop. It begins where Hamlet begins, but ends at both the beginning and the ending. However, it doesn't exclusively adapt Hamlet, it looks at Shakespeare's entire oeuvre. For instance, in the "Hades" segment, the audience hears through Ulysses Bloom's thoughts (one of the main characters) every either last line or line referencing a character that commit suicide. Beside Branagh's, I think this is one of the most complete adaptations to date.
Do you think that Claudius and Gertrude were doing the "beast with two backs" (to quote Iago) before old Hamlet's murder? I know there's no textural evidence within the play itself, but if I were directing the play, I'd consider Gertrude's behavior after her hubby's death a clue. Here are my purely speculative thoughts, minus any actual facts in the play: Gertrude is likely a couple decades younger than Hamlet per. We're told his beard was grizzled and that he'd nap in the garden daily. He's obviously no longer the hero who "smote the sledded Polack on the ice" and is now in his semi-retirement. I'm not saying that Gertrude was a child bride, but they were married at least 25-30 years, and that time period can be modest if you're starting out at 22 years old, substantial if you're starting at 40. They had only one child and that's uncommon for a royal couple. I'm just speculating for sheer entertainment value here, but I'd think the physical passion had gone from the marriage and what remained was a genuine affection but not much adventure between the sheets. Along comes Claudius, handsome, urbane, a boon companion. And smarmy. He'd easily find the energy to prey upon Gertrude, and after a few years' effort, she might have been attracted to him. Of course Claudius is jealous of his brother but I also think his affection for Gertrude is genuine. He never tosses her under the bus like he does Laertes. I've also read speculation that Claudius is Hamlet's true father. I don't think that's a given, necessarily. He bears young Hamlet a grudging affection, mostly out of his feelings for Gertrude. After all, he "inherits" Hamlet after Hamlet's grown and in grad school. But we know that he fears him (we're told that Hamlet bears lots of positive public admiration) and there's some legitimate argument as to whether Claudius was the rightful heir to the throne in the first place. So, do you think that Gertrude was already involved with Claudius prior to hubby's death? I dunno. It's a fun topic to entertain ourselves with, I think.
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