Friday, June 1, 2007

Closet and Nunnery Scenes

Obviously both scenes are extremely complex, but having worked on both scenes on the same day I was made aware of a particular similarity. In both cases it needs to be decided -- again, especially in the short-and-to-the-point Q1 -- how much self-awareness to endow Gertred and Ofelia with at the beginning of these two scenes. That is, do you allow Ofelia to know and feel guilty about participating in a plot against Hamlet before the scene even starts? Does she do it against her better judgment but in obedience to her father? To me, that is the weightier choice because a) it makes Corambis's double-dealings all the more craven and b) it allows Ofelia to be worthy of Hamlet in the first place. He would not love someone of infererior morality and who wasn't pure from the start. Her answer to Hamlet's question, Where is thy father, "At home my Lord" is also then a deliberate choice versus a spur of the moment one which it would be if you made the choice that she doesn't realize, or doesn't think there's anything wrong with what she has willingly participated in until that very moment of Hamlet's question, which is the other argument to be made.

Similarly, exactly how aware is Gertred at the beginning of the closet scene versus the end. Does she, for example, take in that she is being implicated in the play-within-the-play and bring that into the scene with her? The more "correct" choice here is probably not, I would think, if you believe "The lady protests too much" should be straight up and without sub-text. Also, I relearned yesterday yet again the ever deceptively simple lesson that it is always best to look back at the text for the answers: Corambis, when telling her he will hide behind the arras, tells her, "There question you the cause of all his grief, And then in love and nature unto you, He'll tell you all." So I think she's just preparing to have a simple mother-to-son heart-to-heart when Hamlet enters her chamber.

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