Hamlet Notes

Loyalty and Betrayal
Hamlet’s loyalty to his father
  - Hamlet grieves for his father’s death in “inky cloaks” and “suits of solemn black” whilst Claudius and Gertrude have jubilant celebrations where they criticize Hamlet for his “unmanly grief”.
  - Hamlet positions his father in god-like manner and “so excellent king” in his soliloquy in Act 1 Scene 2.
  - In contrast, he sees Claudius as subhuman, “bestial satyr” and later refers Claudius as “a beast that wants discourse of reason”.
  - The ghost has a “gracious figure”
  - Claudius betrays him by planning the murder of Hamlet, “for his death no wind of blame shall breathe”
Guildenstern and Rosencrantz’s betrayal of Hamlet
  - Guildenstern and Rosencrantz were “sent for” and Hamlet’s betrayal is understood as harsh and uncertain. Hamlet states “my excellent good friends” and “my good old friends “which shows how relaxed Hamlet is with them.
  - This is changed as Hamlet realizes the intentions of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, and Hamlet begins the speech where he compares humanity and Earth to the “quintessence of dust”.
  - Guildenstern and Rosencrantz later report to Claudius that Hamlet was being selectively mad, as they actively deceive and betray their friend’s trust: “crafty madness”.
  - The role of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz is to be malleable and interchangeable ciphers, their false friendship reflects the differences between appearance and reality.
  - Hamlet’s final warning to Guildenstern and Rosencrantz is that- “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw”.
Horatio’s loyalty to Hamlet
- Horatio’s constant presence in Act 5 Scene 2 as Hamlet’s friend and confidant reflects his loyalty.
- Harbinger of truth, it is through Horatio that actions take credibility, outside observer of madness. As Horatio has seen the ghost, the audience believes the ghost does exist.
- Horatio exposes the truth through discussions with...