Funny line before the play : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

The lines in Act 3 Scene 2 before the performance of 'The Mousetrap':

CLAUDIUS How fares our cousin Hamlet? HAMLET Excellent, i'faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so. CLAUDIUS I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These words are not mine. HAMLET No, nor mine now.

In KB's Hamlet, Hamlet says these lines quite cheerfully and everyone roars laughing. Hmm? My understanding of these lines were always that Hamlet is taking his usual sarcastic jabs at Claudius, e.g.:

CLAUDIUS How's Hamlet? HAMLET I'm living on fresh air and empty promises. Even chickens need better than that. CLAUDIUS Don't get ya. HAMLET (not bothering to explain) Yeah, me neither ...

I really like how KB has interpreted most of the lines in his film, but I just don't get this part. Anyone wanna help me?

-- Eimear (, March 19, 2003


It IS Hamlet making a bitter jab at Claudius, only no one else understands this - only Claudius, he's the only one intelligent enough to understand Hamlet's meaning. Everyone else is laughing at Hamlet's apparent gaiety and eccentricity. In Branagh's screenplay to Hamlet he writes the following: (notes in brackets are my own)

Hamlet now appears [on stage] to huge applause. Is he in the play?

[The dialogue between Hamlet and Claudius ensues]

Polonius enters the auditorium. HAMLET rushes down to drag Polonius on stage, playing to the Gallery as warm-up man. They play this like a double-act. Quickly with lots of audience reactions.

So you get some idea of Branagh's intentions behind this way of playing the scene. As for your interpretation of the exchange between Hamlet and Claudius, I would explain it thus: Claudius: I have nothing with this answer Hamlet, these words are not mine. (ie: "I have nothing to say to that, Hamlet. That had nothing to do with what I asked you" - though he really DOES know, I think)

Hamlet: No, nor mine now. ("No, they are not my words now, either - as I've just said them". - Hamlet, in true style, twists what is said to him into a witty reply. ie: "Will you walk out of the air my Lord?" / "Into my grave?"

-- Patrick Walker (, March 21, 2003.

'Capons' is further dig at Claudius. They are castrated roosters, fattened up especially for eating. Plus it is a term for fools. Plus WS's audiences might see in it a further allusion, to his earlier character Falstaff, a smart but dissolute, big guy, who eats capons and drinks a helluva lot.

-- catherine england (, June 06, 2003.

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