Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hamlet Part 3: Late Night with Hamlet Prince of Lunacy

I promise you an update, so an update you shall receive! Yay for follow-through, I guess.

Act 2 Scene 1

This scene sees Polonius talking to one of his attendants about his son, Laertes. Polonius is increasingly painted as a fool. Here, he is telling his attendant to find Laertes in France and basically spread rumors about him. I think his aim to is get Laertes to come back to Denmark. I don't really know and he never really says. The attendant is pretty confused by the whole thing, too, but he agrees. I think he agrees mostly to shut Polonius up for a while. He basically just gives Polonius an 'okie dokie, dude' and leaves when Ophelia arrives.

Okay, so now it's Ophelia and her dad hanging out. Ophelia reveals that Hamlet has been making advances at her (how scandalous!). Hamlet showed up at her place all disheveled. Polonius suggests
Seriously, Polonius is a dick to Ophelia.
that he is 'Mad for thy love.' Ophelia can neither confirm nor deny, but they run with the idea. Hamlet had acted all mysterious. Polonius thinks that they should alert the king, because that solves everything and Polonius is a dumbass. He then asks a victim-blamey question, "have you given him any hard words of late?' Basically, what did you do to deserve this? She says that she only did what he, Polonius, her father, told her to do. He, Polonius, her father, than says that that is the problem and he apologizes to her for giving bad advice. They then leave to alert the King that his nephew/step-son is kinda losing it.

This scene was mostly filler and not overly necessary. It was short and mostly a waste of time and brain power for all parties involved. For that reason, it is typically cut from productions and everyone should be happy for that.

Act 2 Scene 2

This scene is actually very important. A lot happens and it is very long. That's why this update took so long to write. It's not because I'm lazy and unmotivated. Not at all...

At the beginning of this scene, the King and Queen are welcoming Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Denmark. I have my massive Shakespeare collection sitting on my ankles and my foot just went numb. This is a heavy fucking book, let me tell you. This is not important information. Back to the action! The King and Queen basically ask R&G to keep an eye on Hamlet because he seems to be losing his goddamn mind as of late. They agree because, really, who disagrees with the King, regardless of the legitimacy of his reign? Literally no one. It's subtly pointed out the R&G are interchangeable. and yes, I will be calling them R&G from now on. Their names are ridiculous and hard to spell. Anyway, R&G leave and Polonius enters.

When Polonius enters, he alters the King and Queen to Hamlet's fuckery. He literally talks about Hamlet's lunacy. To his mom. Nice guy, that Polonius. Seriously, batting 1,000. He tells the King and Queen that he is mad with love, but the Queen says that he must just be upset about his father's death and her immediate marriage to her dead father's brother. Some attendants enter and they talk about the war for a while. Nothing about the war matters until much, much later, so I'm going to skip it.

The attendants leave and Polonius goes back to talking about Hamlet being a nut. The way Polonius speaks is fucking crazy. He's speaks in overly-flowery, artful language that makes him look like a pretender to the court. He's making a fool of himself and he has no idea. Anyway, he reads a letter that Ophelia received from Hamlet. Hamlet comes of as a bit nutty. The King then asks Polonius how Ophelia "received his love," basically wanted to know if she slept with him. Polonius never really answers the question, only makes reference to his own honor. Which isn't super helpful from today's context. I'm guessing it would have answered the questions had this been a contemporary context.

They go back to talking about the Hamlet problem. The King and Queen ask if this could be right and Polonius asks them if he is ever wrong. The answer is 'no' and they go about making a plan to catch Hamlet acting crazy. Polonius is going to hide behind a pole while Hamlet is roaming about the Castle and send Ophelia to him.

Hamlet then enters the scene. The King and Queen immediately leave without a word to him. Not the best thing for loving parents to do, but anyway. Polonius approaches Hamlet. Hamlet mercilessly mocks Polonius, much to Polonius's oblivion. Hamlet alludes that he wants to die and Polonius does not react. He only cares about Hamlet being crazy as it relates to Ophelia. Not the chillest guy. Polonius tells Hamlet that he's going to leave him and Hamlet replies in the most spectacularly mocking way possible. "You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I/will more willing part withal - except my life." What a hilarious, bitter dick.

R&G re-enter the scene and Polonius leaves. They talk about the nature of Fortune for a while. They say Fortune is a whore and the world has gone honest. Hamlet says that because of this, Doomsday must be near. He then calls Denmark a prison. Hamlet then brings what will become one of the main themes of the play: Dreams. He says he has bad dreams, which is a bit of foreshadowing for the ever popular 'To be or not to be' speech. Hamlet lets them know that he know that the King and Queen sent for them. He tells them that he has lost his mirth, but he doesn't know why. There's a bit of filler dialogue that goes nowhere. He tells R&G that his "uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived" because "I am but mad north-north-west" (just a bit off normal) and "I know a hawk from a handsaw."

At this point, they are rejoined by Polonius, who announces the arrival of some actors. Hamlet calls Polonius 'Jephthah,' is a character in the Bible who has to sacrifice his daughter. Again, some lovely foreshadowing. The actors show up and Hamlet asks the lead player to recite a speech he once saw him perform. Afterwards, Hamlet asks the actors to perform the whole play in front of the King and Queen. He pulls the lead player aside and asks if he can add another speech to be performed. The player says 'yes' and Hamlet is left alone when the players leave with R&G and Polonius. I've included a clip from the BBC production of Hamlet with David Tennant because it's great. Do yourselves a favor and watch the whole thing because it is awesome.

Hamlet then reveals his great plot to get the King to reveal how he killed Hamlet's father.  The play that is set to be performed is similar to what happened IRL and Hamlet is going to trick the King into admitting that. He calls himself a coward and the King a villain, which was a big deal back then. He then lets lose one of the most famous lines in the play: "The play's the thing,/Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."


I've established that it's a bit premature to start analyzing. There are important themes that have come to light: Dreams, Hamlet's madness, R&G's alliance with the King and Queen, and Polonius's dumbassery and where that leads him. But they have only just been revealed and analyzing them now without all the information seems premature. So, no analysis for now. yay?

Okay, so I've over shot by about half-an-hour and it's technically Saturday now. But I started it Friday, so there. Good enough.

Until next time, Happy Reading.

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