PERIPETEIA


                                                        A site for students studying English at 'A' Level/University. Discussion Forums and unique 
                                                  Online Seminars to build confidence, creativity, and individual analytical style.

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Shakespeare > Tragic heroes - Lear & Hamlet

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 837

Professor Smith's masterclass will take place here on weds. evening.

May 15, 2017 at 10:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Looking forward to it, folks - do post your questions. 


May 17, 2017 at 1:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Klioma
Member
Posts: 6


Apologies if this is not within the parameters of the topic.

King Lear, with its, arguably seminal, theme of fragmentation has been compared with many other texts reflecting similar concerns - including the fracturing of relationships, the self/mental state, political power, and social rules. One modern text that seems to focus on these concerns is Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; however, critical opinion comparing the two texts appears to be meagre.

Could you enlighten me by explaining what you see to be the seminal parallels between the two texts, and also where they differ?

Also, how might these similarities and differences be influenced by their respective contexts of production?


Thank you:)

May 17, 2017 at 1:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Klioma at May 17, 2017 at 1:57 PM

 

Apologies if this is not within the parameters of the topic.

King Lear, with its, arguably seminal, theme of fragmentation has been compared with many other texts reflecting similar concerns - including the fracturing of relationships, the self/mental state, political power, and social rules. One modern text that seems to focus on these concerns is Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; however, critical opinion comparing the two texts appears to be meagre.

Could you enlighten me by explaining what you see to be the seminal parallels between the two texts, and also where they differ?

Also, how might these similarities and differences be influenced by their respective contexts of production?

 

Thank you:)

Gosh - that's a big question! 

I guess a couple of points of comparison might be:

1. the individual versus the state/the system

2. the extent to which individuals have agency and direct their own fate, or the extent to which they seem to be subject to forces beyond their control 

and some points of difference might be to do with historical differences - the way that interior struggle in the protagonist is depicted, for instance? 

Tell me a bit more about the respective contexts of production - do you mean that they are different because they emerge from different cultural and historical contexts? Emma 


May 17, 2017 at 2:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Griff
Member
Posts: 45

Hello Professor Smith. I am studying Hamlet and would be interested to see how you view the portayal of the female characters in the play. Thanks!


May 17, 2017 at 2:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Griff at May 17, 2017 at 2:02 PM

Hello Professor Smith. I am studying Hamlet and would be interested to see how you view the portayal of the female characters in the play. Thanks!


Hi - I have a bit of a problem with the female characters - what do you think? It's a problem to me that Ophelia only really gets a voice when she's lost her wits because of her treatment by the men in the play; it's a problem that many critics side with Hamlet himself in seeing Gertrude as guilty when that's actually rather obscure in the play. And I think that the moment when Claudius likens his murderous guilt to a harlot wearing makeup is... well - you fill in the word. Tell us what you think! 

May 17, 2017 at 2:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Griff
Member
Posts: 45

They seem to always be put down and told what to do. Especially and Polonius' and Laertes treatment of Ophelia. Gertrude is rarely seen without Claudius as well so lacks her own individual voice 

May 17, 2017 at 2:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Griff at May 17, 2017 at 2:07 PM

They seem to always be put down and told what to do. Especially and Polonius' and Laertes treatment of Ophelia. Gertrude is rarely seen without Claudius as well so lacks her own individual voice 

Yes - I agree. In the first printed edition (so-called Bad Quarto of 1603) there's a scene between Gertrude and Horatio where she pledges support for Hamlet when he returns from England - one short scene without Claudius's control. INteresting blog on it here: http://bookcents.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-problem-with-gertrude.html

May 17, 2017 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Chloe C.D.
Member
Posts: 8

Griff at May 17, 2017 at 2:07 PM

They seem to always be put down and told what to do. Especially and Polonius' and Laertes treatment of Ophelia. Gertrude is rarely seen without Claudius as well so lacks her own individual voice 

You can even see it in the way that Polonius tries to tell Gertrude what to do at the start of the closet scene

May 17, 2017 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Chloe C.D. at May 17, 2017 at 2:10 PM

Griff at May 17, 2017 at 2:07 PM

They seem to always be put down and told what to do. Especially and Polonius' and Laertes treatment of Ophelia. Gertrude is rarely seen without Claudius as well so lacks her own individual voice 

You can even see it in the way that Polonius tries to tell Gertrude what to do at the start of the closet scene

Good point. Actually one feature of G's role is she's on stage a lot with relatively few lines - there's scope for the actor, perhaps, to inhabit the role a bit differently, although most directors don't seem to take that opportunity. 

May 17, 2017 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Griff
Member
Posts: 45

It's troubling that Ophelia has to lose her wit in order to gain a voice. Could this be seen as Shakespeare finding flaws with the patriarchal England of the time?

May 17, 2017 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hafren Alys Park
Member
Posts: 26

I would argue that Ophelia is one of the boldest characters, in her final scene, shrouded in metaphor, she hands characters flowers that represent judgement of their own actions. I saw this as an act of defiance, and one of the few powerful female moments of the play.

May 17, 2017 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Griff at May 17, 2017 at 2:13 PM

It's troubling that Ophelia has to lose her wit in order to gain a voice. Could this be seen as Shakespeare finding flaws with the patriarchal England of the time?

Depends whether you think the play critiques this position or simply repeats or endorses it. I'm not sure there's all that much evidence that the play is challenging this patriarchal view... 

May 17, 2017 at 2:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Hafren Alys Park at May 17, 2017 at 2:13 PM

I would argue that Ophelia is one of the boldest characters, in her final scene, shrouded in metaphor, she hands characters flowers that represent judgement of their own actions. I saw this as an act of defiance, and one of the few powerful female moments of the play.

nice point - so is her death a kind of triumph, then - on her own terms? I can see how that might work but it seems a rather miserable victory. 

May 17, 2017 at 2:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Chloe C.D.
Member
Posts: 8

Emma Smith at May 17, 2017 at 2:11 PM

Chloe C.D. at May 17, 2017 at 2:10 PM

Griff at May 17, 2017 at 2:07 PM

They seem to always be put down and told what to do. Especially and Polonius' and Laertes treatment of Ophelia. Gertrude is rarely seen without Claudius as well so lacks her own individual voice 

You can even see it in the way that Polonius tries to tell Gertrude what to do at the start of the closet scene

Good point. Actually one feature of G's role is she's on stage a lot with relatively few lines - there's scope for the actor, perhaps, to inhabit the role a bit differently, although most directors don't seem to take that opportunity. 

I think it also has to do with the context in which Hamlet was written.  At the time, women were just expected to do as they were told.  But I feel Shakespeare didn't really develop the female characters at all in Hamlet, whereas in other plays they are a bit more substantial as characters.

May 17, 2017 at 2:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Klioma
Member
Posts: 6

Emma Smith at May 17, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Klioma at May 17, 2017 at 1:57 PM

 

Apologies if this is not within the parameters of the topic.

King Lear, with its, arguably seminal, theme of fragmentation has been compared with many other texts reflecting similar concerns - including the fracturing of relationships, the self/mental state, political power, and social rules. One modern text that seems to focus on these concerns is Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; however, critical opinion comparing the two texts appears to be meagre.

Could you enlighten me by explaining what you see to be the seminal parallels between the two texts, and also where they differ?

Also, how might these similarities and differences be influenced by their respective contexts of production?

 

Thank you:)

Gosh - that's a big question! 

I guess a couple of points of comparison might be:

1. the individual versus the state/the system

2. the extent to which individuals have agency and direct their own fate, or the extent to which they seem to be subject to forces beyond their control 

and some points of difference might be to do with historical differences - the way that interior struggle in the protagonist is depicted, for instance? 

Tell me a bit more about the respective contexts of production - do you mean that they are different because they emerge from different cultural and historical contexts? Emma 


Thanks very much for such a useful response!

Sorry about the generality of that last question.

Yes, I'm wondering about the effect of the differing cultural and historical contexts on the portrails of fragmentation. For example, how might Miller present a different image of the fracturing of an individual in the light of his contemporary psychological theories - Freudian theory could be one - compared to Shakespeare? Also, how might the political context of the playwrights' lives influence how they choose to depict a fracturing society?


 

May 17, 2017 at 2:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Chloe C.D. at May 17, 2017 at 2:15 PM

Emma Smith at May 17, 2017 at 2:11 PM

Chloe C.D. at May 17, 2017 at 2:10 PM

Griff at May 17, 2017 at 2:07 PM

They seem to always be put down and told what to do. Especially and Polonius' and Laertes treatment of Ophelia. Gertrude is rarely seen without Claudius as well so lacks her own individual voice 

You can even see it in the way that Polonius tries to tell Gertrude what to do at the start of the closet scene

Good point. Actually one feature of G's role is she's on stage a lot with relatively few lines - there's scope for the actor, perhaps, to inhabit the role a bit differently, although most directors don't seem to take that opportunity. 

I think it also has to do with the context in which Hamlet was written.  At the time, women were just expected to do as they were told.  But I feel Shakespeare didn't really develop the female characters at all in Hamlet, whereas in other plays they are a bit more substantial as characters.

You're right about other Sh plays giving us a different view (so it's not just a feature of the historical moment) - especially comedies, where the roles for women are more substantial and enabling. I think this is something more to do with Hamlet itself - it seems a worldview which is preoccupied with the patrilinear and deeply suspicious of women (even tho it is men who commit the crimes). 

May 17, 2017 at 2:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emilie
Member
Posts: 15

On the topic of women in Hamlet, I've always read Gertrude as embodying the "whore" figure. There seems to be very little evidence otherwise, but perhaps I'm just being a bit narrow minded?

May 17, 2017 at 2:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Griff
Member
Posts: 45

Emilie at May 17, 2017 at 2:18 PM

On the topic of women in Hamlet, I've always read Gertrude as embodying the "whore" figure. There seems to be very little evidence otherwise, but perhaps I'm just being a bit narrow minded?

Perhaps her defiance of Claudius at the end suggests an empowerment? When she chooses to drink the chalice

May 17, 2017 at 2:19 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Emma Smith
Member
Posts: 221

Klioma at May 17, 2017 at 2:15 PM

Emma Smith at May 17, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Klioma at May 17, 2017 at 1:57 PM

 

Apologies if this is not within the parameters of the topic.

King Lear, with its, arguably seminal, theme of fragmentation has been compared with many other texts reflecting similar concerns - including the fracturing of relationships, the self/mental state, political power, and social rules. One modern text that seems to focus on these concerns is Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; however, critical opinion comparing the two texts appears to be meagre.

Could you enlighten me by explaining what you see to be the seminal parallels between the two texts, and also where they differ?

Also, how might these similarities and differences be influenced by their respective contexts of production?

 

Thank you:)

Gosh - that's a big question! 

I guess a couple of points of comparison might be:

1. the individual versus the state/the system

2. the extent to which individuals have agency and direct their own fate, or the extent to which they seem to be subject to forces beyond their control 

and some points of difference might be to do with historical differences - the way that interior struggle in the protagonist is depicted, for instance? 

Tell me a bit more about the respective contexts of production - do you mean that they are different because they emerge from different cultural and historical contexts? Emma 


Thanks very much for such a useful response!

Sorry about the generality of that last question.

Yes, I'm wondering about the effect of the differing cultural and historical contexts on the portrails of fragmentation. For example, how might Miller present a different image of the fracturing of an individual in the light of his contemporary psychological theories - Freudian theory could be one - compared to Shakespeare? Also, how might the political context of the playwrights' lives influence how they choose to depict a fracturing society?


 

good points - they're quite author-focused, aren't they? So we could give a Freudian view of Shakespeare even though Shakespeare hadn't read Freud - but you're right that both writers write out of their own context, and have blindspots or things they are focused on because of those circumstances. 

May 17, 2017 at 2:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.