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message 1: by Traveller (last edited Feb 23, 2016 12:32AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
How are we going to do this; shall I post a short sketch of the "setting" for the start of each act, and then open the floor for comments etc?

In any case, in Act 1 scene 1, we have the following:
Hamlet is a prince of Denmark. He has just returned to his home from university after learning of the death of his father, the king of Denmark.

The scene starts out with a conversation on the battlements of the castle, between three guards and Hamlet's friend Horatio, about a ghost that seems to have been haunting the castle.

The ghost then appears to them, and they remark that the ghost resembles the dead king, and... well, a lot of conversation follows. I might want to stop and ask if anybody wants to comment on any of their conversation there before we move on in broad terms.

Well, in that conversation, they do discuss quite a bit of background politics; the most important being that dead king Hamlet snr had defeated Norway in a recent battle and taken some of its lands, and that Fortinbras, the young Prince of Norway, has declared war, planning to take this land back and to avenge his father who had been killed while defending against Hamlet senior's attack.
We are not quite sure how Hamlet's father had died.
The discussion turns to wondering if the ghost might be Hamlet's father and whether it would speak to Hamlet, as it seems so far to have scorned everybody else.


message 2: by Traveller (last edited Feb 22, 2016 01:31PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Feel free to comment on Act 1 scene1 - I apologize if I'm kind of rushing through it, but it is in scene 2 that the REAL drama starts for me: with a pompous flourish, we are introduced to the new king: no, King Hamlet's oldest son Hamlet was not made king, but Hamlet senior's brother, Claudius is now king. (Is it just me, or are the names of Cladius, Polonius and Laertes (even Cornelius) not pretty Greek/Roman for Danes? Ha. )
I wonder if Shakespeare presupposed any knowledge of the Danish system of succession from his audience. Of course he had to set the play in a foreign land - setting a succession drama in Britain would have been far too close to home.

And guess who Claudius has on his arm already? None but the dead king's wife; not as Claudius's sister in law, but as his brand new newly-wed wife! Ahem! Is it just me, but I couldn't help thinking ; no wonder old Hamlet is haunting the place with his wife hopping so quickly into her brother in law's bed. (Barely 2 months apparently.)

Phew, that right there at the start of scene 2 is enough to keep a dozen soapies going for a few years! :0

I'd like to research the customs at the time that the play was written; I know several cultures required a certain period of "mourning time" which close relatives and spouses had to adhere to, some by wearing black and some by refraining from marriage etc.

I wonder how the audiences of the time received this; Claudius makes a bunch of excuses for his actions, but to me he comes across as an oily snake. I'm sure audiences would have, at this point, agreed that Hamlet has ample reason to be dour and grumpy, and I feel that at the start, we are supposed to feel sympathy for him.


message 3: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments So far I'm coming up zip for mourning customs of the time and place. Still searching........


Amy (Other Amy) | 714 comments Mod
I only got through the first scene tonight, so I will comment a bit on that. I had forgotten how delicious and atmospheric it is. It's so dark the guards can't see each other at close range. It's freezing cold. The ghost of the dead king has already interrupted their watch twice. They are readying for war as Fortinbras the younger prepares to compel the return of the property his father lost to Hamlet's father. I'd say there's plenty of drama there (and it's important not to lose sight of Fortinbras' activities during the play).

I believe the scandal regarding uncle + queen was mostly that the union was incest, although the month between death and wedding was also ugly. Marriage of a sister-in-law seems to have been illegal in the UK until 1907 due to the Anglican Church's teachings (Wikipedia).


message 5: by Traveller (last edited Feb 23, 2016 12:38AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
I think I've become a bit blunted to the charms of the first scene, because I have often started a Hamlet film, never to finish. Or started reading Hamlet (only to start skipping stuff later on).

But indeed, it is a wonderfully atmospheric scene, I personally see it as being foggy and misty as well- perfect weather for ghosts to appear!

Not wanting to give away spoilers, but yes, Fortinbras certainly needs to be taken notice of, and those who have never read Hamlet will see at the end how beautifully circular (or elliptical - is Michele out there?) this play is.


message 6: by Derek (last edited Feb 23, 2016 03:33AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Amy (Other Amy) wrote: "I believe the scandal regarding uncle + queen was mostly that the union was incest, although the month between death and wedding was also ugly. Marriage of a sister-in-law seems to have been illegal in the UK until 1907 due to the Anglican Church's teachings (Wikipedia)."

This is soon enough after Henry VIII's reign that I imagine this is an intentional reference. I don't think even the commoners at the Globe would have been expected to assume that Danes would be Anglican. Henry's grounds for demanding an annulment from Katherine of Aragon was (were?—is grounds singular or plural?) that his marriage was incestuous, and therefore invalid, as she'd been previously betrothed to his brother (Arthur?), so it's the Catholic church's teachings that apply here—betrothed, mind you, not actually married! Henry was claiming that there'd been enough hanky-panky that it amounted to an actual marriage, therefore making his marriage illegal.

I'm sure that the succession system in Denmark never openly preferred brothers to sons, but again it's not too far in the English past that a brother inherited while there were closer claimants (the princes in the tower—which might be a safer reference for Shakespeare politically, though perhaps not as Henry VII is one of the candidates for having murdered the princes).

I've always found this first scene too confusing to open the play. Why did we need four watchmen? Two would have done. Couldn't we have Kings and Princes with different names? Why not just call Claudius "Hamlet", too, and totally ruin it for me? Things start to make a little sense later, but then we get into madness and it all runs back into confusion.


message 7: by Derek (last edited Feb 23, 2016 01:44AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Shakespeare didn't always have an easy time introducing new plays, but Hamlet must have been popular, as you can hear here, recorded live at the Globe theatre.


message 8: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "I've always found this first scene too confusing to open the play. Why did we need four watchmen? Two would have done. Couldn't we have Kings and Princes with different names? Why not just call Claudius "Hamlet", too, and totally ruin it for me. Things start to make a little sense later, but then we get into madness and it all runs back into confusion.
."


Hmm, but isn't it just 3, with the one relieving the other? The fourth person being Horatio, Hamlet's friend. I love the intro scene. (As long as you don't bother trying to remember the guard's names, which are unimportant, as I see it.)

It sets the scene on what is to come beautifully, with a cool, spooky atmosphere to boot. It prepares us without overwhelming us, and it's mercifully quite short. :D


message 9: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) There are only three at a time, Francisco (who seems completely superfluous) exits just before Horatio and Marcellus enter. I might not be overwhelmed, but I'm definitely whelmed!


message 10: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "There are only three at a time, Francisco (who seems completely superfluous) exits just before Horatio and Marcellus enter. I might not be overwhelmed, but I'm definitely whelmed!"

Okay, I admit, since I'd not been following the names, I just saw them as generic guards. But you have a point, 2 would have been enough, with a third one perhaps just thrown in passing would have worked too, I suppose. Maybe they wanted to give more actors work, even if just a bit-piece? XD


message 11: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) I was thinking that typically an actor would have more than one part in a Shakespeare play, but I wonder if you're not right, anyway. Just as we see walk-on cameos in Hollywood films, perhaps Shakespeare would have given patrons parts like Francisco or Cornelius, who only have a line or two.


message 12: by Derek (last edited Feb 23, 2016 04:39AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Notice in scene II, we have the same succession in Norway as in Denmark. "Norway" is "uncle of young Fortinbras". It makes far more sense in Claudius case. Claudius is a man still in his prime. Many European nations have had at some time a system where the king was chosen by the nobles, and was not necessarily even closely related to the previous monarch; but it's hard to see how Norway would have chosen an infirm and bedridden monarch over young Fortinbras.


message 13: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "Notice in scene II, we have the same succession in Norway as in Denmark. "Norway" is "uncle of young Fortinbras". It makes far more sense in Claudius case. Claudius is a man still in his prime. Man..."

I know, right? I noticed it as well, and was thinking to comment on it once I'd had the time to look up the systems of succession in the countries mentioned.


message 14: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 714 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "This is soon enough after Henry VIII's reign that I imagine this is an intentional reference. I don't think even the commoners at the Globe would have been expected to assume that Danes would be Anglican."

Sorry, I was posting late and exhausted. I wasn't meaning to imply that the Danes would be Anglican, only to try to establish whether the average Englishman of the time would recognize the marriage as incest.

The guards are confusing because they are just listed as guards, and because Bernardo just relieved Francisco when Horatio and Marcellus arrive. The scene read to me though more like B and F were the regular guards and M was there to escort H, who has somehow been called in to see the ghost (but really to deliver the info-dump).

I hate that the kings and princes have the same names, and Norway makes no sense.


message 15: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Amy (Other Amy) wrote: "whether the average Englishman of the time would recognize the marriage as incest"

In that case, I'd say definitely! The idea that Katherine's marriage to Henry VIII had to be annulled because of the incest (which is not just a policy issue: not marrying your brother's wife is in at least one of the books of Law at the beginning of the Old Testament) is their current Queen's entire claim to legitimacy! If Katherine's marriage is legitimate, then Elizabeth is a bastard.


message 16: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
...but then, how did audiences come to accept the Gertrude & Claudius marriage? I suppose they didn't. I was thinking that in his speech at the start of scene 2, Claudius was not just doing sleight of hand about mixing sadness and joy, but was also distracting attention from the marriage a bit by focusing on the issues with Norway.


message 17: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) I'm sure audiences are not supposed to accept the marriage. Did you? Even the most liberal reader tends to think that it's pretty slimy. We can accept that a brother-in-law/sister-in-law might be brought closer in the aftermath of the death of a spouse/sibling, but to be married to each other less than two months later? We'd all jump to the conclusion that the death, however innocent, was a little too convenient.

In this case, I'm presuming that Shakespeare intentionally wanted his audience to disapprove. He's known to have performed often for Elizabeth, and while scholars seem somewhat split on whether he modified plays for her, he must have known where his bread was coming from, never mind which side it was buttered on. otoh, Hamlet was written after her death, which I think explains why he can write about brothers succeeding brothers without worry.

And what shaky leader hasn't welcomed a little war to distract attention from his own shortcomings?


message 18: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 714 comments Mod
I agree with Derek. I think the audience is supposed to be firmly on Hamlet's side from the get-go as far as Claudius + Gertrude goes. Claudius = sleazeball and the audience is supposed to get exactly that immediately.


message 19: by Traveller (last edited Feb 23, 2016 02:06PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
I wasn't disagreeing ;) you'll see I thought a similar thing higher up; but what I mean is ; one cannot help wondering how Claudius managed to get away with such a thing! (In the story.) In other words, is Shakespeare expecting his audience to believe the unbelievable? Hamlet is depressed and angry/upset about the situation, sure, but why is there not more outrage from anyone else besides Hamlet? (In the story of the play).


message 20: by Derek (last edited Feb 23, 2016 02:10PM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Traveller wrote: "is Shakespeare expecting his audience to believe the unbelievable?"

The answer to that is that they have no trouble believing the nobility is capable of anything. The educated know that similar things have happened in England's past, and the commoners just figure that it's one law for the rich and one for the rest. Plus they probably figure that the rest of the world is not much better than a nest of Satanism...


message 21: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "Traveller wrote: "is Shakespeare expecting his audience to believe the unbelievable?"

The answer to that is that they have no trouble believing the nobility is capable of anything. The educated kn..."


Yes, I think you've got it. Well, the nobility could definitely get away with murder, if they knew how to pull the right strings...


message 22: by Traveller (last edited Feb 24, 2016 05:50AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
All right, now to continue on a bit:
Claudius sends two emissaries, Cornelius and Voltemand, off to Norway, apparently to try and talk some sense into the old feeble bedridden king's head, (the recently deceased Norwegian king's brother), about young Fortinbras wanting to take back the lands that Hamlet snr had grabbed from Norway. Claudius seems to feel that the old man will be more easily persuaded than the young hot-head Fortinbras.

Polonius, Claudius's chief counselor, has a son Laertes, who requests leave from Claudius to return back to France from whence he was called to come and attend Clauduis's coronation.

And after this, we finally meet Hamlet:
(And I think here it is worthwhile to look at the actual words of the text, if you don't mind) Hamlet's replies often are so poetic, that they have become rather famous and oft-quoted.

But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,--

HAMLET

[Aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind.

KING CLAUDIUS

How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

HAMLET

Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.

QUEEN GERTRUDE

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

HAMLET

Ay, madam, it is common.

QUEEN GERTRUDE

If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?

HAMLET

Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

KING CLAUDIUS

'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father:
But, you must know, your father lost a father;
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow: but to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschool'd:
For what we know must be and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we in our peevish opposition
Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd: whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse till he that died to-day,
'This must be so.' We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father: for let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne;
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do I impart toward you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire:
And we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.

QUEEN GERTRUDE

Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:
I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.

HAMLET

I shall in all my best obey you, madam.

KING CLAUDIUS

Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply:
Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come;
This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart: in grace whereof,
No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
And the king's rouse the heavens all bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.

Exeunt all but HAMLET


Hamlet's following words are even better, but I think I'll halt there for now.


message 23: by Derek (last edited Feb 24, 2016 03:02AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) I love that the word-play still works 400 years later. I always wonder whether it works because Shakespeare somehow tapped into some core of the language that is less changeable than most of it, or is it because Shakespeare wrote it that it is still used in the same way.

"More than kin, and less than kind" is brilliant. The play on "common" always makes me feel exactly how Hamlet feels about his mother remarrying, even when performed by Mel Gibson. And Claudius' "you are the most immediate to our throne" sounds very much like "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."


message 24: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments Amy (Other Amy) wrote: "I only got through the first scene tonight, so I will comment a bit on that. I had forgotten how delicious and atmospheric it is. It's so dark the guards can't see each other at close range. It's f..."

Yeah, this 'so dark the guards can't see each other at close range' seems to beg the question: so how are they guarding? If they can't see if/when anyone is approaching the castle, what are they doing? Or is it a more internal guarding, making sure no one is improperly going into rooms they shouldn't?


message 25: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) I don't think it's wise to dig too deeply into what goes on with these sentries. They say that the ghost shows up around midnight, but after a few minutes of trying to talk to it, he always disappears as dawn arrives. My best guess is they're doing more drinking than guarding ;-)

The alternative is that it's a mid-summer night, and the nights in Elsinore are extremely short at that time of year. Now, Elsinore (Helsingør) is about in the middle latitude of Denmark—close to the latitude of Edinburgh, so I checked for day-length, and dawn isn't until 3 1/2 hours later. And sure enough it says the nights are to "nautical twilight", which is defined as "the horizon is clearly visible, but artificial lighting must be used to see terrestrial objects clearly." (believe it or not, I actually had to look up all this stuff for work, not too long ago)—so they'd be able to see each other.

As I said, it doesn't pay to dig too deep!


message 26: by Traveller (last edited Mar 01, 2016 07:18AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
You know, reading over this again, and especially this:

Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
,
now that I have some foreknowledge of the play, I have been reflecting over Hamlet's dilemma, and I realize now how very personal his situation seems for me (and for that reason I have been hesitating to comment, because it feels SO close to home).

I am seeing in Hamlet's words there, a chiding of his mother. He seems to be saying that they're all putting on a show, but that at least his feelings are genuine.

Well, there's no doubt over that he has grief and turmoil, but I don't think his inner turmoil is all that straightforward as dear old Claudius makes it out to be.

Isn't Claudius just an oily snake dear? Oh, you shouldn't be grieving for your father, after all, everybody dies and we all lose our fathers eventually! Come be a man! Well.. first off, grief doesn't just come and go in a month. I was depressed for a good year after my father passed away. But besides that, I don't think Hamlet has just simple grief there. I think he has pain and rage and confusion that his mother could forget his father so quickly and so lightly; and quite rightly so. He is dealing with a lot of inner conflict here - and conflicting feelings for a parent are really the very worst to deal with.


message 27: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 714 comments Mod
Yes, this, and also on this read through, Gertrude's beseeching turned my stomach:

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.


As if anyone could be a friend to Denmark by embracing the current situation. (And then she does the absolute most idiotic thing and asks him to stay from school. Probably at Claudius' urging - thinking of the comment earlier about keeping one's friends close and enemies closer.)


message 28: by Derek (last edited Mar 01, 2016 08:15AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Traveller wrote: "Oh, you shouldn't be grieving for your father, after all, everybody dies and we all lose our fathers eventually! Come be a man!"

That's still the attitude that a lot of people take about grieving, though, so that in itself doesn't make Claudius odious (I'm sure there's a good reason those words rhyme...and probably did in 1600, too).

Amy (Other Amy) wrote: "As if anyone could be a friend to Denmark by embracing the current situation. "

He could. "Denmark" (and "Norway" in this scene) is referring to the King—so, Odious.

Though surely Willy is playing on that too: you can't be both a friend to Denmark the country and to Denmark the King.


message 29: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 714 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "He could. "Denmark" (and "Norway" in this scene) is referring to the King—so, Odious."

Excellent point - Claudius' is a smart kind of evil.


message 30: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Another thing I have been wondering about, is why are Claudius and Gertrude so anxious for Hamlet to remain in Denmark?


message 31: by Amy (Other Amy) (new)

Amy (Other Amy) | 714 comments Mod
I think Gertrude is genuinely being stupid; she wants Hamlet to stay and Claudius has convinced her its good for him. (I am making this behind the scenes manipulation up out of whole cloth because it makes sense to me.)

Claudius makes less sense; Derek's point above in #23 makes the most sense out of it. Unless Claudius plans to murder Hamlet later on? Or maybe he just wants to watch him until he knows exactly how his nephew is going to react to his power grab.


message 32: by Traveller (last edited Mar 02, 2016 02:39PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Oh, no. I had replied something along the lines of agreeing that Claudius seems to want to keep Hamlet close in order to manipulate him - yes the famous: friends close but enemies even closer.

Then I accidentally pasted over it when I pasted the next quote that I feel might be worth looking at, oi!
Please fell free to post things you might feel you want included - I am not going to quote the entire play, but we might want to look at Hamlet's soliloquies especially, in more detail.

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--
Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she--
O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month:
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.


He's obviously contemplating suicide (in very poetic tones) and one -does- wonder if that might not be taking things a bit far - but then his situation is complex; it's not his father's death alone that is troubling him.

Anyone else feel that Hamlet's use of language is very philosophical and poetic? I find it very interesting how Shakespeare creates this image by the word choices, the syntactical and semantic choices the character makes.


message 33: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Amy (Other Amy) wrote: "I think Gertrude is genuinely being stupid; ... Or maybe he just wants to watch him until he knows exactly how his nephew is going to react to his power grab."

Yes, I think Gertrude is being stupid. Which doesn't say much for Shakespeare. Why are there so few intelligent women in his plays? Especially when he was writing for Elizabeth I (well, not this time, but often)?

I think Hamlet would have to be a real problem for Claudius. He would want him where he could keep an eye on him, not off somewhere where he could be raising resources for a rebellion; but Hamlet's best chance of getting those resources would be in Denmark, not Wittenberg, so it might seem safer to send him away (and, Lo!—perhaps a trip to England should be in the cards).


message 34: by Traveller (last edited Mar 03, 2016 01:44AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2523 comments Mod
Okay, now we're starting to get a bit ahead of ourselves. :D I apologize that I have been moving so slow with this. I promise from today on, I am going to be better and faster.
(view spoiler)

Let's get to the later plot points in a bit: I was going to suggest that we reserve judgement over Gertrude until we get to some of the later scenes plus a certain dialogue between her and Hamlet.

I see nobody wants to comment on Hamlet and his wonderful soliloquy there? Ok, we can always refer back to Hamlet's manners and personality and attitude later; Derek has commented that the attitude in those days was that a "man" does not grieve long - or was it? That's actually another little point that I would like to do research on, actually...
..but is Hamlet's grief not in large part due to having to see his mother scorn his father's memory so soon and roll in "Incestuous sheets".

And here, one would possibly detect a bit of misogyny? ..or is it simply that Hamlet himself is generalizing when he says: ... what it fed on: and yet, within a month--
Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--


..and here I want to come back to the question of whether Gertrude is simply stupid. On a first-time read of the play, one might wonder if she is a total airhead, or a callous 'survivor' or even, a wicked schemer. [ Let's pretend we have some imaginary first-time readers of the play along with us. :D ]
Imaginary reader, let's reserve our judgement for a bit! ;)

So, shall we move on a bit?
Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo, in which we note the friendship between Hamlet and Horatio, and in which Horatio suggests Hamlet watch out for the ghost.

Hamlet also cannot resist biting Claudius with a witty remark about saving on refreshments by doing a two-in-one wedding/funeral. If you think about it, no wonder Hamlet feels angry!
Now here is truly an example of an angry young man, but in this case, complicated by the fact that he is not simply a rash young hothead; he is a sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful young man who thinks and reflects a lot. What a wonderful concept to spin a play around...


message 35: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Traveller wrote: "Derek has commented that the attitude in those days was that a "man" does not grieve long - or was it?"

Well, actually I think there's still a pretty common attitude that one should "get over it", whether you're a man or a woman. I think most would say that a mere two months, though, is pushing it!

I'll get to the soliloquy...


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