Reading Hamlet (HUM303)

It might be useful to recall which passages from Hamlet we discussed/ screened on Thursday. Claudius’s opening speech is in Act One, Scene Two (I.ii). Remember that this scene is particularly important in terms of the way that two young characters in the play– Laertes and Hamlet– are treated. These two young men seem to represent different “types” of (male) youth. Also, it’s important to note that in this scene Claudius has effectively and rather smoothly usurped Hamlet’s rightful position as presumptive heir to the Danish throne.

In II.ii we encounter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: first as they meet Gertrude and Claudius, and then later when they talk with Hamlet. These two secondary yet significant characters will later be described by Hamlet (in his only scene alone with his mother) as “adders fanged” (III.iv). The initial exchange between R&G and Hamlet is important, I think, particularly in light of David Tennant’s performance, for what it tells us about peer-culture and Hamlet’s psychological state.

Ophelia’s crack-up (interpreted very powerfully by Mariah Gale) occurs in IV.v.

On Tuesday, we’ll continue with our discussion of Hamlet through the lens of the politics of the Youth Concept– the ways in which the social category of Youth is mobilized to effect political ends. If you have an questions or observations, don’t hesitate to address them to this post.