Comparison Essay: Hamlet's Act II Scene II

Topics: Kenneth Branagh, Performance, John Gielgud Pages: 3 (791 words) Published: May 17, 2012
ENG 4U – Comparison Essay – Hamlet – Act II Scene II
Friday March 23rd, 2012
Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, Act II, Scene II is an electrifying scene that allows the reader to see inside the head of Hamlet. Hamlet is experiencing an internal conflict that is a turning point in the play. Actors, Richard Burton and Kenneth Branagh have both displayed the same scene in previous films and on-stage performances that are in different light of each other. The viewer of both performances is able to notice that Hamlet is faced with two difference compelling internal conflicts. Both actors have also used their stages very differently to showcase the scene. In Richard Burton’s performance of the scene, there is a little to no props used, while Branagh makes great use of his stage and props. Both performances also contain different voice levels that allow the viewer to comprehend the scene in two contrasting ways. Act II Scene II can be seen in two different ways, however, both actors accomplish that Hamlet is facing anger, hatred and confusion within himself that adds effectiveness to the rest of the play.

The most recognizable differences between the two performances are the internal conflict that Hamlet is facing throughout his soliloquy and how this internal conflict is portrayed to the audience. In Richard Burton’s rendition of the scene, we see that Hamlet is more mentally insane or “crazy.” His worries and his weaknesses are showcased through a mental breakdown. His insanity becomes apparent when he explains with passion, “Yet I/A dull and muddy-melted rascal, peak”. (2.2.593-594). However, in Kenneth Branagh’s performance, Hamlet seems to see more angry and furious throughout his soliloquy. His anger intensifies when he begins to ask himself questions; “That he should weep for her? What would he do”. (2.2.586). Hamlet’s craziness and anger begins at two different parts in the scene, however, is able to emphasize his thoughts throughout the soliloquy.

The two actors...
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