Friday, April 20, 2007

More closet

Wow, I’m sitting at a truck stop just outside of Knoxville, TN, writing and waiting for my G4 to fully charge and in the background there’s country music and announcements: “Attention Pilot shower customer 74. Your hot shower is now ready for you. Please proceed to shower 1.” My dad was a trucker. God, I so loved this country once.

Ok, back to the closet scene… In Q1 it is Gertred’s climax. After the closet scene Gertred is irreversibly changed and her denouement to the end of the play begins.

Several things happen to her during the scene, the combination of which prove too much for her. Hamlet makes her see just how painful her quickie marriage was for him, just what he’s capable of and what she may well have driven him to (the unfortunate Corambis incident). This is already overwhelming enough. He then relentlessly shames her for her lustful ways – reminding her that “your blood runs backward now from whence it came,” and that she's basically pathetic. But this is his youth speaking (no, I don’t think Hamlet’s 30, but that’s another post) and could potentially be dismissed as such. So far she’s still desperately trying to run away, close her ears, close her mind, keep the status quo of everything’s hunky dory and fixable with time. But now comes the final whammy – the thing I just glossed over during my last post on the scene: She finds out for the first time that on top of everything Claudius actually killed old Hamlet.

This proves to be too much for her. And just at the moment when she’s about to faint or die or otherwise check out, the Ghost intervenes and guides Hamlet back to his mission, including taking it easy on his mother.

So Hamlet comforts her, convinces her he’s not crazy and enlists her help in his revenge. And Gertred, so grateful and incredulous that through all her willful blindness, God didn’t take away her son, too – and in her son is of course also what’s left of her beloved husband, hence the trinity I referred to – she now sees crystal clearly that this is her chance for redemption.

So if in the first half, Gerty is the girl, the sexpot, the confident female, in the second half she’s all humility, devoted servant to God – whom she now evokes much more often (“thanks be to heaven,” etc.) -- and she is mother. She tries to be mother to Hamlet, as well as to Ophelia in her hour of need. But the downward spiral has already begun.

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