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Geo. Location & Climate
• Denmark, late medieval period
• Readers know it’s been cold
and foggy (Act 1, scene 1)
Time
• Begins at midnight some
evening in late fall/early
winter and spans the course
of a few days
• There are several references
to past (and current) tension
with Norway, which began
about three years ago (5.1.64)
WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR
DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR:
Geographic Location & Climate
• New England, specifically
Brooklyn, Yonkers, Boston, and
New York
• Much of the play is set in the
home and yard of the Lomans
(Brooklyn); but also at Willy’s
office, Frank’s Chop House, and
a cemetery.
– Prove it! Provide text support.
Time
• 1940s with numerous
flashbacks to years prior.
– Prove it! Provide text support.
Economical environment
• Not really known. However, a
royal family and their court
would be quite wealthy (the
gravediggers would be the
main exception)
Political environment
• The political environment is
key in Hamlet because of the
ongoing tension with Norway:
reader’s learn of the
impending battle between
Norway and Denmark in Act I,
scenes 1-2, which is then
resolved in Act V when young
Fortinbras assumes power
WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH…
NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR:
Economical environment
• In the present time the Lomans are
struggling to pay bills, which is not
surprising since America is just
beginning to spring back from the
Great Depression
• In flashbacks, Willy is doing fine at
work and the family seems to enjoy
all that life has to offer (struggles
with money would not provide such
luxuries in life)
– Prove it! Provide text support.
Political environment
• Politics play no role in this play,
aside from the Depression, which
some may say is political in nature
Social environment
• Royals using their subjects to do
their bidding
– Claudius uses Polonius,
Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, etc. to
aid in his plans
– Hamlet uses the players to help him
establish Claudius’ guilt
• Significant familial relationships
– Gertrude, Claudius, Hamlet, & dead
King Hamlet
– Polonius, Laertes, & Ophelia
– Fortinbras, & dead King Fortinbras
• Friendships (or not?)
– Horatio & Hamlet
– Laertes & Hamlet
– Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, &
Hamlet
• Romantic relationships
– Hamlet & Ophelia
– Dead King Hamlet & Gertrude
– Hamlet & Gertrude?
– Claudius & Gertrude
WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH…
NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR:
Social environment
• Familial Relationships
– Willy, Linda, Biff, Happy, Ben
– Charley and Bernard
– Howard and his daughter
• Neighborhood relationships
– Charley lives next door to the Lomans
• Work Relationships
– Willy and Howard
– Willy and his customers
– Biff and Bernard
– Stanly and his customers (he also
seems to be friends with Happy)
• Romantic Relationships (or lack of)
– Willy and Linda
– Willy and ‘the woman’
– Happy and all his lady friends
– Happy & Biff with Letta and Miss
Forsythe
Religious environment
• Not applicable
Visual environment
• There are numerous allusion
to Greek and Roman myths
• Hamlet writes a play and
has it performed in the
castle (to aid in proving
Claudius’ guilt)
• Others?
WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR
DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR:
Religious environment
• Not really applicable
– Why not really? Well, because
many scholars argue that there are
Jewish themes (in part because
Willy Loman was based on an uncle
of Miller’s who was devoutly
Jewish). Can you support it with
text? Well, if you search hard
enough, maybe.
Visual environment
• Sports are a cultural element
(football & basketball especially)
• Others?
Approach
• The set is realistic and somewhat
tangible, but also filled with
convenience in order for plot
elements to work out (such as
conveniently located curtains for
Polonius to hide behind)
Walls
a) Yes, there are walls, ceilings,
floors, and doors
b) It is a castle: readers can assume
the walls and such are fancy
–
–
c)
“arras” (3.4.10, et al) is used
repeatedly to describe Polonius’
hiding spot
There is not much text support
here because in this era of theatre
sets were imagined more than
they were depicted tangibly
The exact date of origin for the
castle isn’t stated. Readers can
assume it’s old
WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH…
NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR:
Approach
• The set is palpable and authentic for
the era
Walls
Yes, there are walls, ceilings, floors,
and doors for the 1940s layer of the
plot; however, the flashbacks are not
tangible
b) The home (in the 1940s) is depicted
to illustrate the family’s current
financial struggles but there is little
tactile imagery provided for the
flashbacks
– Prove it! Provide text support.
c) Their home is starting to show age
and much is in need of repair
– Prove it! Provide text support.
a)
Notice how the lack of specific stage directions
in Hamlet allow for so many varied
interpretations of the visual aspects of the play.
2006 production of Hamlet:
the last play performed on the
stage at the original Guthrie
Theatre location (Minneapolis, MN)
2009 production of Hamlet
at Broadhurst Theatre on
Broadway (New York):
a very simple set of brick
and not much else.
Jude Law played Hamlet.
2004 production of Hamlet at
James Madison University in
Virginia: the set and lighting by
Richard Finkelstein had theatre
critics around the world
flocking to the production.
Notice how the specific stage directions in Death of
a Salesman leads to the visual aspects of the play
being much the same from production to production.
2014 production of Death of a
Salesman at The Lyric Theatre in
Boston, MA : the acting earned
subpar reviews, but the set had
New York theatre-goers driving
up to Boston to see the show.
The model version of the set
The traveling version of the set
The Boston version of the set
2002 production of Death of a
Salesman, performed at the
Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)
The model version
of the set
2012 production of Death of a
Salesman at The Barrymore
Theatre on Broadway (New
York): nominated for a “Best
Lighting Design” Tony Award –
won the “Outstanding Lighting
Design” Drama Desk Award.
Props
• Very few are mentioned in the
stage directions. However, the
following props, at minimum, would
be needed: poison for the play
within a play, Hamlet’s sword in Act
III, the letter which is read in Act IV;
bones (specifically a skull) in Act IV,
and swords and a chalice filled with
poison in Act V.
Color Palette
•
Not directly stated by the playwright.
Costumes
•
Not directly stated by the playwright.
Likely, there would at least be richer
colors (reds, purples, etc.) and quality
fabrics worn by the royalty.
Lighting
•
Because the play was originally
written before stage lighting
existed, none is directly mentioned
in the script.
You’ll be divided into 4 groups. Pool
what you already have, iron out any
discrepancies, and ensure you have text
support.
Be prepared to share out in a bit.
WITH YOUR GROUP, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH…
NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR:
Group 1: Props
–
Prove it! Provide text support.
Group 2: Color Palette
–
Prove it! Provide text support.
Group 3: Costumes
–
Prove it! Provide text support.
Group 4: Lighting
–
Prove it! Provide text support.