26.12.09

Liveblog of the RSC's Hamlet

(...demonstrating the unfortunate way my brain works. Touched up here and there)

Hamlet makes a distinction between external indications of mourning and internal feelings. His uncle observes only the former.

Both Claudius and Polonius send men to spy on their sons. With deception you discover truth.

Both conspire to spy on their offspring, to see if they are in love. Deception to discover truth.

Hamlet's exposure to Ophelia: a genuine outpouring of internal feelings, inspired by her brush-off? Or calculated ploy to put distance between them?

Wants Ophelia to go off to a nunnery, away from Elsinore. Away from the deceptions of (male) political life. Free from sin. Wants to save her from the fate he has to bear.

Ophelia believes Hamlet to be the paragon of manly virtue. Exactly what Hamlet has grown to despise.

Avenge your father's murder. Do evil to stop evil. The political life.

The Ghost has his sins burned off in purgatory. The ways of state. Teaching these sins to his son. Son has to do his duty, but he doesn't like what that means.

To be or not to be: fight against injustice or endure it silently. Which one is the moral choice?

The dreams that come after death are more horrible than the pain of existence. We don't know what death will bring, which is why we bear with what life gives us. Consciousness makes us cowards. Thought (and the possibility of its end) denies us resolution and action.

There is method in the madness. Applies to Polonius as much as Hamlet.

Art can cut through the bullshit. Confront us with truths we do not want to face. And yet the actors are themselves lying!

Hamlet uses art to discover the truth. Claudius and Polonius use other people.

Claudius: justice on earth is imperfect. Only in heaven is it stripped of all falseness. He believes himself damned.

Hamlet: prayer can remit even the most grievous sins. Even murderers can cheat their way into heaven. A cop-out?

Is Gertrude complicit? We will never know. She loves both Hamlet and Claudius. Torn apart by them.

Madness = honesty, virtue, freedom.

Ophelia's councilors are all gone. There's no one to tell her what to think.

She remains virginal and "pure", but is thoroughly wasted by Elsinore regardless. Hamlet didn't save her, he ruined her.

Laerties unflinchingly seeks to revenge his father's death. A true politician.

Fortinbras unflinchingly seeks to revenge his father's death. A true politician.

Fortinbras provides the example. No hesitation.

Yorick's skull: no heaven any longer. Only bones and dust.

Ophelia a maenad in death. Lusty, vibrant, free. Burns out just like Hamlet.

Can Hamlet distinguish truth and falsehood any longer? Thinks Laertes's sorrow is an act. Everyone in Elsinore is faking it. Comes to his senses later.

Hamlet only wants his story told. The only thing that is worth anything.

Notez on the production itself: stagey, which isn't surprising, but the incredible acting managed to hold your attention anyway. The CCTV stuff was dropped halfway through, which was weird. Also, not necessary. Liked the Habsburg decadence vibe. And Tennant's muscleman t-shirt. Also: don't watch Dr. Who, but now offish a fan.

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