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Do you agree that a production of Hamlet should lead the audience to sympathise with the younger generation and despise the older? Consider how the relationships between parents and children might be presented, focussing on at least two scenes for more de

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Introduction

Maria Wright Hamlet Coursework March 2002 "Do you agree that a production of Hamlet should lead the audience to sympathise with the younger generation and despise the older? Consider how the relationships between parents and children might be presented, focussing on at least two scenes for more detailed discussion." Relationships between characters of the younger and older generations is a main focus and central theme of Hamlet. The play differs from convention in that older characters are generally found to be the ones who have acted wrongly or who have made mistakes. The younger generation, Hamlet included, tend to act according to what they believe to be morally correct and appear to have a greater conscience and sense of justice. Generally, productions of Hamlet present the younger generation in such a way that the audience would feel sympathy with them and disgust at the actions of the older generation. However, there are exceptions to this and at certain places in the text, sympathy could be drawn to the older generation. Parents and children also have complex relationships in this play, something found particularly between Hamlet and Gertrude. The way Hamlet behaves towards his mother has caused much debate over the emotional complexities of their relationship. Yet different interpretations of the text are found and the way the relationships between parents and children are presented varies. ...read more.

Middle

Laertes is young but he still acts in a patriarchal and commanding way towards his sister, which may lead an audience to dislike his arrogance. In the closet scene where Hamlet finally confronts his mother, we gain a new insight into their relationship and one that we had not previously seen. Here, Hamlet releases all the pent up emotion that he had been hiding beneath his assumed 'antic disposition'. We also see many elements of Getrude's character, and may end up feeling some sympathy for her, as Hamlet viciously berates her for her betrayal of his father. At first, Gertrude takes on a formal and conventionally matriarchal tone with Hamlet, reprimanding him for his disrespectful behaviour towards Claudius. She says 'Hamlet, you have thy father much offended'. However, Hamlet immediately takes control of the conversation and makes clear that he will not accept being scolded by his mother when the crimes she has committed are far more serious. He cruelly mimics her words saying 'mother you have my father much offended'. In this scene he almost seems to assume the disposition of a fundamentalist preacher, condemning Gertrude for her immoral acts. He goes into such detail of the sexual crimes his mother had committed, admonishing her for living 'in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, stewed in corruption, honeying, and making love, over the nasty sty', it is possible to interpret Hamlet as having a repressed Oedipus complex. ...read more.

Conclusion

O limed soul, that struggling to be free art more engaged; help, angels!'. This does not last long however, and he continues to be potrayed as an 'evil' character through his multiple betrayals of his country, his nephew and his wife. An example of a character to which we react ambiguously is Polonius. In some interpretations of the play, Zefferelli's film version for example, Polonius is portrayed as harmless fool whose plans never quite work out but who genuinely cares for his daughter. This is shown when Ophelia comes in distress to her father after Hamlet had visited her in her bedchamber. In the Zefferelli film version of the play, Polonius seems honestly concerned with his daughter's welfare, and upset about what had happened. In the Kenneth Brannagh version, Polonius is more of a devious and sly character than a kindly old man. For me, this interpretation of Polonius' nature is more convincing considering the way he behaves; the way he sends Raynaldo to spy on his son and spies on Ophelia and Hamlet suggests a devious side to his personality. But the two completely different ways the two directors interpret this scene shows that different readings of the text and stage directions are possible. How Hamlet is produced can attempt to emphasise the sense in which the young are virtuous and brave and the older generations are corrupt and venal. However, the genius of Shakespeare means that the relationships between generations are complex, subtle and multi-faceted. ...read more.

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