Saturday, July 9, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Kline '90

Kline's Hamlet looks around, makes sure he is alone before saying so. He has a small stage to play with and makes good use of it, at first sitting amazed at the First Player's performance while also letting a certain measure of outrage build until the energy of it makes him jump up on it. Outage that the Player dared show more emotion than he has allowed himself to, outrage also directed inward for needing a reminder that he has lost his way. As his frenzy builds, he spins and gesticulates, miming the drowning of the stage with tears, for example. There is a pregnant pause after "Am I a coward?". Kline makes Hamlet really ask himself the question, not as rhetoric, but in such a way that it demands an answer. After thinking about it for a moment, he starts pointing to imaginary people, shadows that call him villain and such, before he finally collapses into a fetal position, overwhelmed.
We're reminded that we have seen this Hamlet snap in Act 1, and that he is not wholly feigning his madness. The guilt of not yet having avenged his father (perhaps compounded with that of not having prevented the murder in the first place and/or of having survived while a great man did not) translates into accusers only he can see, giving some reason behind the soliloquies. These are essentially a running conversation with Hamlet's demons (perhaps not so apart from those more "literal" devils he fears are trying to damn him). In a vision of the play where the Ghost is part and parcel of Hamlet's madness, his suspicious and ultimately murderous impulses are completely generated from within, psychologically. Only Horatio and the soldiers prevent us from taking this analytical route exclusively.

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