Hamlet Dramatic Arc -


In our final piece of Hamlet, we will be looking at the different parts of the dramatic arc and how Hamlet can be tracked along them.

Please see your Hamlet Packets for the elements in the dramatic arc.

Meanwhile here are a few examples that we discussed as a class.

Antecedent Action - The murder of King Hamlet by Claudius, the "getting together" of King Claudius and Gertrude, Hamlet's absence from all of this, are all examples of action that took place before the play began that was necessary for the primary drama to happen.

Exposition - The conversation of the guards (learning about the ghost) and learning where they are and who everyone is (Prince Hamlet and Horatio) are examples of exposition. Learning about the impending war with Norway and Claudius' explanation of his marriage and his taking the throne are good examples also.

Rising Action - Everything Hamlet does in order to seek revenge (his primary objective) and the obstacles he encounters . This means his acting crazy; his setting up the play; his decision whether or not to kill Claudius while he is in prayer; his confronting his mother; his killing Polonius in the closet by accident thinking he is the king. His being sent off to England with R&G and his trick to return after sentencing R&G. Hamlet's fighting Laertes is one of the last pieces of rising action in the play as Laertes provides the last obstacle between Hamlet and Claudius.

Crisis/Climax - In Act 5 Scene 2 we see the tension mount as we wait to see whether or not Hamlet is going to finally accomplish his revenge. As he learns that he is struck by the poisoned sword, he is galvanized into action as he has only minutes before he himself will be dead. This is a bit of an unconventional showdown, but in the midst of the fight, when Hamlet is wounded, we are left with the final moment of truth. The climax is the moment when Hamlet enacts his revenge on Claudius causing him to drink the same poison he poisoned Hamlet's mother with.

Denouement - Hamlet's monologue as he dies provides us the beginning of the wrap up, where he asks Horatio to tell his story. Fortinbras and Englands entrances as well provide a sense of closure as the outside world meets the bloody scene. Horatio then gets to have the nearly final words summing up the tragedy of the events that lay before them. All of this wrapping up of the story provides a sense of closure once the climax has happened.