How do deception and conspiracy drive the play? : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

How do deception and conspiracy drive the play?

-- Chan (, January 25, 2002


Please do tell: have you read/watched the play yet?

I get the feeling perhaps some of our responses are getting copied, pasted and handed in verbatim to teachers. My tutoring fee is $20AUS per hour.

If you've read the play but don't get it, watch it - the Kenneth Branagh one, or the Derek Jacobi (BBC) one. It only takes a few hours. Watching really helps you understand.

Then you could come back here and ask a more specific question about what you still don't understand.

This is really quite an easy question if you focus on Hamlet, Claudius, Polonius and Laertes. All four practice conspiracy and deception themselves, and are conspired against and deceived by others. Note also the use that is made of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by Claudius and Hamlet.

-- catherine england (, January 25, 2002.

It seems to me that just about ALL the characters in Hamlet spy, eavesdrop, use trickery and assemble plots in order to find out what the other characters in the story are up to. This does indeed drive the play forward as each character tries to stay one jump ahead of the other characters' plotting.

In Act 2, Scene 1 Polonius sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes who he suspects of dishonorable behavior such as “drinking, fencing, swearing, quarreling.”

Claudius and Gertrude urge Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet saying: “by your companies to draw him on to pleasures, and to gather so much as from occasion you may glean” in Act 2, Scene 2.

The king, queen and Polonius arrange a meeting for Hamlet and Ophelia in order to find out how Hamlet feels about Ophelia. Polonius says: “I'll loose my daughter to him: be you and I behind an arras then; mark the encounter.”

Hamlet plots to confirm Claudius' guilt by means of a play, saying: “I'll have these players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks; I'll tent him to the quick: if be but blench, I know my course.”4

In Act 3, Scene 3, Polonius says “[Hamlet is] going to his mother's closet: behind the arras I'll convey myself” and he proceeds to eavesdrop on Hamlet’s conversation and he is eventually stabbed through the curtain.

Since the characters are so skeptical of one another, we are led to believe that indeed “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” I think that the characters are so distrustful because each one realizes the corruption of their own nature, and think that their fellow men must be the same. The spies, plots and general distrust at the castle have resulted from original dishonesty and lack of morals on the part of the plotters.

-- Erin James (, March 26, 2003.

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