To Direct Or Not Direct
In Hamlet, like in many of William Shakespeare’s plays, there are very few stage directions. This gives directors an unavoidable opportunity to manipulate the audience’s view of the characters and the plot. The director always has the option to change the dialogue but in Hamlet, since there is little stage direction, one can have many varieties of the same scene using the same dialogue. Being a tragedy, Hamlet involves many complex characters such as Hamlet and Ophelia. Hamlet is the son of the recently deceased king of Denmark, avenging his father’s death after the visit from his fathers ghost accusing Hamlets uncle as his murderer.
Scene 3.1 involves the characters Hamlet and Ophelia that clearly have many internal emotions that can only be determined by their actions and tone. In scene 3.1, Hamlet recites his famous to be or not to be speech. In this speech Hamlet contemplates whether or not to live, “To be”(3.1.64), or to take his own life, “not to be” (3.1.64). Written in this play Claudius, Polonius, and Ophelia are directed to not exit but to withdraw before Hamlets soliloquy. One way to have this staged would be to have only Claudius and Polonius withdraw and hide behind a curtain while Ophelia watches Hamlet enter because Polonius only addresses Claudius when he says, “(Let’s) withdraw, my lord” (3.1.63). Hamlet would enter in subconsciously knowing Ophelia is in the room. As Hamlet does his soliloquy, he never makes eye contact with Ophelia. The reason for having Ophelia out with Hamlet rather than behind a curtain is to show the audience her change in mood as she considers Hamlets arguments he makes in his speech. At first she is focused on her task her father has given her and by the end she is questioning, “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles”(3.1.65-67). This scene is the turning point of Ophelia from sane to madness. This...
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