After reading Hamlet or watching the play, how old would you say that Prince Hamlet was at the time? Would you say he was around thirty? Or maybe you would say he was in adolescence, somewhere around the age of eighteen. Whatever age you would say, there would be someone who would argue that you are wrong. I recently attended the play Hamlet at Washington University, directed by William Schvey. Schvey viewed Hamlet as a young college-age student. I think that this type of view on Hamlet’s age is a common thing, but I do not feel that it is the correct view.
Schvey shows Hamlet with his book bag, saying that he is a student and therefore must be young, so the actor playing Hamlet is indeed young. Yes, Shakespeare does say that Hamlet studies, but he does not say anywhere that he was an undergraduate student. Many people well over the age of thirty still study and some even still go to a college to do so; this does not mean that they must be undergrads. There is nothing saying that Hamlet could not have been beyond an undergraduate at the time. With this being said, the argument that Hamlet could not have been thirty based on the fact that he was studying has been given a reasonable doubt.
I feel that through making the characters, especially Hamlet, appear so young Schvey was trying to get younger people to realize the importance of the play. Although he may have achieved his goal of making younger people understand and relate to the importance of the play, I feel that he was still wrong about believing Hamlet was so young. In Schvey’s directors notes provided in the program I received at the play he is trying to justify his take on Hamlet’s age by quoting lines from the play that call Hamlet young. What Schvey does not take into account is that the people that are calling him young are people that are much older than him. The characters that call Hamlet young are his father and Ophelia’s father. When someone is much older than another he...
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