Hamlet's SuggestibiltyHow do you think Hamlet is changed by the opinions and rhetoric of others? 

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jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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I think the ambiguity is the key. The gravediggers seem to throw around the timing of Hamlet’s birth lightly as if it a private matter for rumor among the great unwashed. With no siblings, a cold mother and a questionable sense of paternity Hamlet is a free floating particle. He has little to cling to and few that take his side beside Horatio. I like Bloom in that he is still playful with his interpretation.

Much has been documented about Shakespeare’s philandering. Perhaps wifey was a little involved up in the country while William was away. Son Hamnet… just might have been in the middle of that.

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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I think Bloom even goes so far as to doubt that Hamlet is the son of the King. He noted that Denmark was fighting Norway when Hamlet was born with the King leading the army against Fortinbras. Perhaps the Gertrude/Claudius relationship is not that new. Gertrude is played best when shown to be needy and alluring. It seems her only weapon is to flirt with and attract men. There is a noticable absence of a nurturing aspect to her.

I agree.  Gertrude's inability to connect reminds me of Lady Capulet's lack of maternal feeling for Juliet. 

And, hmmm....If Hamlet was not truly the King's son, that's a whole new kettle o' fish, isn't it?  If Bloom's implication is correct,  and Claudius is the father, that means Hamlet killed his father and that there was no incest, unless you spin it around and the noble King was the incestor, right?  Hmmmm....hmmmm...I feel a short story coming on! :) 

 

jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I think Bloom even goes so far as to doubt that Hamlet is the son of the King. He noted that Denmark was fighting Norway when Hamlet was born with the King leading the army against Fortinbras. Perhaps the Gertrude/Claudius relationship is not that new. Gertrude is played best when shown to be needy and alluring. It seems her only weapon is to flirt with and attract men. There is a noticable absence of a nurturing aspect to her.

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I believe he adjusts his ruse according to his environment. He feels out Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and manipulates them well. He deals with each specific audience in a skilled and appropriate manner. I always got the feeling he was very adept at this. I never bought into the idea that when dear old dad was alive that things were heavenly. He strikes me as a neglected child. The way he reminisces about the honest moments with Yorrick seems to show a son with a painful disconnect with his parents. I imagine him as a son somewhat used to “playing the part”. All this makes me believe that he is not so much changed by others, but is instead forced to play different personae from time to time.

Jeff-  I think your intuition about Hamlet and the relationship with his father has much merit.  There is an interesting study by Peter Alexander, "Hamlet:  Father and Son" in which he argues that "the Ghost is a warrior fit for Icelandic saga, while the prince is a university intellectual, representative of a new age.  Two Hamlets have virtually nothing in common except their names. The Ghost expects Hamlet to be a version of himself."

Harold Bloom also makes note of the problematic relationship between Prince and King.   "Hamlet's infancy," Bloom argues, "like everyone else's, could use considerable improvement.  The prince evidently will go to his death having kissed Yorick, the king's jester, his substitute father, rather more often than he is likely to have kissed Gertrude or Ophelia, let alone his awesome warrior-father. "Take him for all in all," Hamlet's judgment upon his father, implies some considerable reservations." 

jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Let me ammend that... Laertes provokes his pride. The duel is fueled by the sense of rivalry.

jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I believe he adjusts his ruse according to his environment. He feels out Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and manipulates them well. He deals with each specific audience in a skilled and appropriate manner. I always got the feeling he was very adept at this. I never bought into the idea that when dear old dad was alive that things were heavenly. He strikes me as a neglected child. The way he reminisces about the honest moments with Yorrick seems to show a son with a painful disconnect with his parents. I imagine him as a son somewhat used to “playing the part”. All this makes me believe that he is not so much changed by others, but is instead forced to play different personae from time to time.

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