• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the way Shakespeare presents the relationships between Hamlet and his Mother, Gertrude, making ...

    4 star(s)

    In Hamlets infamous "Alas, poor Yorrick" speech, he reminisces on the times when his Jester, Yorrick would play with him. "Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment." Hamlet may be looking for a father figure in his later life, and of course, it would be impossible to have a normal father-son relationship with Claudius.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Polonius has sometimes been presented as an essentially comic character and sometimes as a ...

    4 star(s)

    that occurs between the two of them, such as in Act 3 Sc.1 'Her father and myself, lawful espials, Will so bestow ourselves...' [ lines 32+33] and to some may show a more sinister shade to his persona. In Branagh's full-length version, Polonius is shown to be slyer, with the including of his (spying)

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    Polonius likes to spy. At this time, Hamlet (who may have been eavesdropping), walks in reading a book. Polonius questions him, and Hamlet pretends to be very crazy by giving silly answers. They are pointed, referring to the dishonesty of Polonius ("To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.")

  2. Free essay

    Examine Shakespeare's presentation of Ophelia and how a modern audience might respond to her

    A modern reader would feel yet more sympathy for Ophelia, because she is not in Hamlet's thoughts. A Shakespearean audience would also feel sympathy for her, because she has just been rejected by the man she loves.

  1. Explore Shakespeare's presentation of the relationships between parents and children in Hamlet.

    The cold blooded reptile might be an image Hamlet associates with his mother, who he feels swiftly and cunningly conspired to murder his beloved father with a malevolent nature, rendering her incapable of any kind of remorse. Hamlet arrives to a point of such hatred that he cannot bear even to have any relation to his mother.

  2. What is the significance of the ghost in Hamlet? How would an Elizabethan audience ...

    purpose of the ghost suppose to represent the subconscious mind of the citizen or the inner thoughts of Shakespeare? That is one of the questions that should be kept in the back of the mind of the readers. Upon the entrance of the ghost, Shakespeare tries to convince the audience

  1. In Act two, everyone notices a change in Hamlet because he has began his ...

    But he still retains some sanity in planning his revenge. He tells Horatio that he plans to put on an "antic disposition" and if one notices, he only acts mad around certain characters (Polonius, Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). Around others, such as Horatio, Fortinbras, the Gravediggers, The Players, he seems to be completely sane.

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    answers with two hasty syllables - "Most like," - and a confession of horror : "- It harrows me with fear and wonder." O heaven! words are wasted on those who feel, and to those who do not feel the exquisite judgment of Shakspere in this scene, what can be said?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work