Bronce is working on the character analysis essay with a focus on the political Hamlet and he is spot on. The issue of succession was "the elephant in the room" during the time this play was written (around 1600), and considering how explosive discussing the future of the throne could have proven during the waning years of the Tudor dynasty, it is easy to figure out why Hamlet does not openly opine on his dashed dream of ascending to the throne. What evidence do you find that, when read against the grain, reveals Hamlet's political ambition?
For example, waiting for the play-within-the-play to begin, Claudius greets Hamlet and Hamlet responds in a quizzically ambiguous way: "Excellent, i'faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons, so" (3.2.86-87). He describes how he is fed with chameleon's dish, air, and promise just as a capon (a castrated rooster) will be fed for tender and fatty meat. Earlier in Act 2 Scene 1, Claudius promised that Hamlet would be the next king and once the reader is reminded of this promise, he or she will easily associate "air" with "heir." This pun helps the reader to see the "elephant in the room," that is, Hamlet's dashed and delayed dream of becoming the king.
An Example of Gallows Humor (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975)
Another from Monty Python's Life of Brian, 1979)
In this 1990 production of Hamlet, the director Franco Zeffirelli cast Mel Gibson and Glenn Close to play Hamlet and his mother Gertrude. They are close in age and the portrayal of their contentious dialogue in Act 3 Scene 4 is very scandalous. Do you think Zeffirelli's interpretation of Hamlet's relationship with his mother is valid?
What does this line mean? Does Hamlet have a reason to declare women are not reliable or dependable? Do you agree with him?
The Murder of Gonzago is a play-within-the-play which its playwright and director, Hamlet, dubs as "mouse trap." What or who does this play-within-the-play seek to trap? Does Hamlet succeed in catching the "conscience" of his "mouse"? Please contribute one literary comment on this play-within-the-play.
In the following speech, Claudius seemingly comforts Hamlet by saying that we all share the "common theme" which is the "death of fathers." In his line of argument, excessive mourning is vulgar and unnatural because everybody is to go through the death of the beloved at one time or another. In reality, Claudius seeks to manipulate Hamlet by dispersing his gloomy thoughts and desire to rebel against the new king.
Yet, Claudius in spite of himself reveals an ironic truth that the underlying theme of this play is the filial duty of a son to honor his dead father. There are three young men and a young woman in similar circumstances who have to contend with the death of their fathers: Hamlet, Fortinbras, Laertes, and Ophelia. These literary foils provide a contrast that helps illustrate Hamlet's struggles and agony.