Hamlet AO5

BBC RSC Hamlet (2009) (4) Use of CCTV – spying aspect of stateHamlet (Tennant) – emotional and sad, foetal crouch, helpless (less anger)Tennant – erratic acting style presents Hamlet’s impulsiveness as central to his characterGertrude appears in suit (profession as a Queen)
G. Wilson Knight (1930) (4) cruel Murder of his father leaves Hamlet static/unable to think’Hamlet’s disease is mental and spiritual death”Hamlet is cruel”The shadow of death broods over this play’
G. Wilson Knight (1930) on Hamlet (3) inhuman ‘Hamlet is an element of evil in the state of Denmark – a living death in the midst of life’Hamlet is inhuman’He has seen the truth of Denmark, humanity and the universe and the truth is evil’
G. Wilson Knight (1930) on sex/love (2) torture ‘Love has become synonymous with sex and sex with uncleanliness’ ‘He [Hamlet] tortures them [Ophelia and Gertrude] because he once loved them. They remind him of what they once were to him, of what he himself is now’
G. Wilson Knight on Claudius (2) good ‘Excellent diplomatist and king’Contrasts to warrior mode of Hamlet’s father
Emma Smith on Hamlet (2016) stuck ‘Hamlet is stuck physically and emotionally. He seems frozen’
Emma Smith on Hamlet’s death ‘Hamlet makes his own death a circular inevitability’
Emma Smith on retrospection ‘Play obsessed with retrospection’ – like its hero, the play looks backwards’
Emma Smith on Hamlet dead His strongest affections are for the dead
Emma Smith on the ghost backwards ‘Ghost is the visualisation of this tug backwards’
Emma Smith on repetition ‘Re-venge like re-membering take on a quality of repetition’
A C Bradbury (1919) on Hamlet ‘Hamlet plays with words and ideas chiefly in order to mystify, thwart and annoy’
Ian Johnson (2001) on Polonius ‘Polonius has the best interests of his family and his monarch at heart’
Coleridge (1818) on Ophelia ‘The sweet girl was not acting a part of her own, but was a decoy’
T.S Eliot (1930s) on Gertrude ‘She is insufficient as a character to carry the weight of the effect she generates’ ‘She is an insufficient vehicle for his feelings of disgust’ Hamlets response to her is ‘an excess of emotion’
Gillian Woods (2016) (2) performance ‘Shakespeare explores the ways in which performance exits in and shapes reality’ (‘Performance is part of reality’)
Gillian Woods on Hamlet (2) Hamlet is obsessed with the difference between ‘show’ and ‘authenticity’, ‘performance’ and ‘reality’His doubting is heroic
Gillian Woods on revenge Revenger ends up becoming like the criminal he seeks to punish – (‘nephew’ in play within the play)
Gillian Woods on play within the play (2) Hamlet uses theatre as a mode to find the truth – ‘forensic’ tool’Theatre has a real and truthful impact on viewers’
Gillian Woods on Claudius He sees Hamlet as the disease
Stephen Greenblatt (1990s) on Hamlet ‘A hero, tormented by uncertainty’
Jacqueline Rose (contemporary feminist and psychoanalyst) on Hamlet ‘In response to his mother’s flagrancy, projects the same flagrancy onto the image of the innocent Ophelia whom he then spurns along with life itself’Spurns – rejects with distainFlagrancy – obvious, scandalous, outrageous and offensive behaviour
Belsey justice ‘Revenge is always in excess of justice’
Coleridge on Hamlet ‘his flaw is over-thoughtfulness’
Snider on Hamlet ‘if he acts, it is through impulse and he falls into guilt; if he reflects, he cannot act’
Cantor on Hamlet ‘Hamlet is a conflict between Christian ideas of a hero (turn the other cheek) and the classical idea (the violence of Achilles)’Argues this is the central conflict of the Renaissance and that Hamlet is torn between these two ideas
Psychoanalytical view Oedipus complex – Hamlet is in love with his mother and desires to kill his rival
Germaine Greer (1986) – feminist ‘The play is a guided tour through a lying world’Cannot trust anyone – even Hamlet
Greer on Ophelia ‘She is a spy herself’
Greer on play within the play (4) He searches the ‘body’ of Elsinore for the source of it’s corruptionBoundaries blurred between acting and spectating
Greer on Tragedy Disease of Denmark is a lack of curiosity and concern about matters unseenDisagrees that the tragedy of Hamlet is explained by his ‘fatal flaw’ of indecisiveness
Greer on Fortinbras (2) His ‘physical herosim’ is contrasted with Hamlets ‘spiritual heroism’He blindly carries through revenge without questioning its morality
Aristotle – tragedy (3) Fatal flaw (hamartia) leads to downfallHigh status brought low Catharsis – release of emotion from audience, purging of emotions and working through own emotions (death, divorce, love, hate)
Hazlitt (1817) ‘Almost too touchingly exquisite to be dwelt on’Is a symbol of innocence/purity rather than a fully developed character
Benedict Cumberbatch National Theatre Live production (2015) (2) Stage becomes filled with rubbish – represents the disintegration of the state Ophelia given greater role – when she dies she walks off top of rubbish pile and music plays- representative of how the state’s disintegration has led to her death and her walking away suggests it is suicide
Harold Bloom (2003) (5) ‘Hamlet is more conscious of his own consciousness and the problems of consciousness’ ‘Hamlet is isolated from everyone else’Hamlet is ‘not capable of love’Hamlet is a contradictory character – introspective yet also an extrovert ‘Hamlet does not have a definable genre’
Branagh version (1997) Easier to sympathise with Claudius
Andrew Scott version (2017) ModernBeginning shows news story on TV of mourning formalities + funeral Guards have cameras, security door and wear security guard outfits Play within the play – actors join audience to watch the play on stageHamlet looks at Ophelia on mention of the player king’s loveGun instead of daggerCannot kill C as it is not logical Draws gun on GShoots Polonius (impulsive) Crawls onto G when talking of ‘enseamed bed’ and gyrates on her Kisses G on mention of C kissing herAttempts to join ghost’s and G’s hands – child broken by divorce ‘To be or not to be’ said slowly with hand gestures – shows logical thought pattern’Fish monger’ scene follows which highlights his ‘antic disposition’ (clear thoughts to nonsense)P tells Ophelia to read and she rolls her eyesH strokes O’s hair and kisses her – very in loveBoth H and O cryOphelia mad in wheelchair – stained face from tears and singingHamlet holds Ophelia’s dead body – disturbingAt end all characters join Ghost and hand him their watches – time no longer exits, has run out End echoes beginning – TV news story of all deaths – circular inevitability of death in revenge tragedy
C. T. Neely (feminist) on Ophelia ‘Until her madness, Ophelia scarcely exists outside men’s use of her’

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