B2 ELA 12
Hamlet’s Dull Revenge Questions
1. What claim does Girard develop in this essay?
Girard develops the claim that Shakespeare had two motives for writing Hamlet-- to “talk” about revenge and “denounce the revenge theater.”
2. What is Girard’s explanation for why Hamlet fails to take revenge swiftly? What does he argue is the link between this behavior and revenge theater?
Girard’s explanation for why Hamlet does not take revenge swiftly is because Hamlet does not believe in its cause itself for a long time. In revenge theater, it happens without question, but Hamlet questions whether it’s worth it to take revenge and acts slowly to make his decision.
3. What central idea does Girard begin to develop in lines 25-70?
Girard begins to develop that Shakespeare is trying to change and break the rules of revenge tragedy.
4. What is Girard’s tone toward Shakespeare and his play? Explain how his feelings are revealed through his language as well as his choice of details.
Girard’s tone towards Shakespeare and this play is that Shakespeare is putting his feelings about revenge theater into this play, and that turning Hamlet and making it feel like a traditional revenge play for his audience while still breaking the rules of revenge theater is bold. His feelings are shown when he describes that the loop of the cycle is what Shakespeare feels about revenge theater, and how he describes the “rousing spectacles during his play”.
5. Girard provides three examples of the models that he claims Hamlet needs to work up a taste for vengeance. Identify these examples and discuss how their presentation within the argument strengthens or diminishes Girard’s claims.
The examples that Girard provides include the eggshell / straw example (lines 101-104), the Hecuba reference (lines 93-97) and the “buried quick” example. Using these examples from Hamlet strengthen Girard’s claims.
6. According to Girard, what is the relationship between the character of Laertes and revenge theater? Is this interpretation of Laertes’ role convincing? Why or why not?
The relationship between the character of Laertes and revenge theater is that Laertes is the embodiment of revenge theater because he doesn’t hesitate to exact revenge on Hamlet for killing his father. This interpretation of Laertes’ role is convincing because he does manage to exact his revenge on Hamlet with the help of King Claudius.
7. Review the lines spoken by Hamlet that Girard cites. Do these lines effectively support his perspective on Hamlet’s state of mind? Explain.
These lines effectively support his perspective on Hamlet’s state of mind because it shows that Hamlet is not stable, and shows how extreme he will go to find someone to help follow his plan.
8. Trace the reasoning that Girard uses to support his overall claim, showing the relationships among the central ideas.
The reasoning that Girard uses to support his overall claim is that Hamlet was used as a character to mock revenge theater, while Hamlet himself followed yet defied traditional revenge theater. He instills the traditional revenge theater character in Laertes, and uses mimicry to develop Hamlet into a character that follows revenge but does so in a different way.
9. What is the “something portentous” that Gertrude’s birth metaphor refers to in line 195? In Girard’s view, how might the phrase be applied to Shakespeare’s play as well?
The “something portentous” that is referred to in line 195 is something that is big and overdone, such as the entirety of the play itself-- the dramatization of Hamlet’s revenge and how overdone the final scenes of the play were, even though Hamlet’s actual revenge was long, questionable, and most not of his own doing. It supports the idea that Shakespeare had a double meaning to the play.