Need some help with my A-level English literature homework due this TuesdayWatch this thread
Hamlet Question 2a)
Discuss the following passage from Act 5, scene 1, exploring Shakespeare's use of language and dramatic effects:
Here's a skull now; this skull has lain in the earth
Three and twenty years.
Whose was it?
A wh or e some mad fellow's it was: whose do you think it was?
Nay, I know not.
A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! a' poured a
Flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull,
Sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester.
Let me see.
Takes the skull
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
Of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
Borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
Abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at
It. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
Not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
Gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
That were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
Now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
Her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
Come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell
Me one thing.
What's that, my lord?
Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i'
And smelt so? pah!
Puts down the skull
E'en so, my lord.
To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may
Not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander,
Till he find it stopping a bung-hole?
'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with
Modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it: as
Thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
Earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
Was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!
Plan so far:
- "Quite chap-fallen" - Even heroes die. His father was great and well respected but also died - juxtaposition.
- Having Yorick's skull in his hand foreshadows Hamlet's death. He could possibly die when he avenges his father.
- "My gorge rises at it" - Gorge is throat or gullet This to being sickened or angry and disgusted. Trouble accepting that he's holding the skull of someone he knew. Causes him to contemplate his own existence and mortality.
- Yorick died when Hamlet was seven, an impressionable age.
- "A *****son mad fellow it was: whose do you think it was" - His wit and madness is quite similar to Hamlet's adult traits.
- Gravediggers/clowns - In Shakespeare's time, clowns were peasants, did not mean the person in question was funny.
- Juxtaposition of Hamlet and the gravedigger- Hamlet seems to be not as mad as the gravedigger. Having a normal conversation with him here.
- Yorick may have been Hamlet's only sense of joy.
- Famous rulers Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar have long since decomposed into the primordial dust from which life comes
Just look at what is the key dramatic focus in the scene
- then consider how your different bits of language analysis contribute to this
Make sure you cover the entire extract when your discussing it, so you can identify change within the scene and you could consider tonal shifts
Honestly these questions are difficult to crack, I think you have about 37mins to read and then write so you just got to practice, practice, practice
- try just planning in 5minutes and seeing what you can do
- maybe to show your teacher where your at you could plan some in 5 mins and they might have some guidance on what you should be looking out for
But anyway hope this helps, this question is difficult in such a limited time frame, but jus keep going at it and youll get there