Adelman, Janet. “Man and Wife Is One Flesh: Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body. ” Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare’s Plays, Hamlet to The Tempest. By Adelman.
New York: Routledge, 1992. 11-37. This monograph chapter argues that Hamlet “redefines the son’s position between two fathers by relocating it in relation to an indiscriminately sexual maternal body that threatens to annihilate the distinction between the fathers and hence problematizes the son’s paternal identification” (14-15).Hamlet “rewrites the story of Cain and Abel as the story of Adam and Eve, relocating masculine identity in the presence of the adulterating female” (30). Gertrude “plays out the role of the missing Eve: her body is the garden in which her husband dies, her sexuality the poisonous weeds that kill him, and poison the world—and the self—for her son” (30). The absence of the father combined with the presence of the “engulfing mother” awakens “all the fears incident to the primary mother-child bond” (30).
The solution is for Hamlet to remake his mother “in the image of Virgin Mother who could guarantee his father’s purity, and his own, repairing the boundaries of his selfhood” (31). In the closet scene, Hamlet attempts “to remake his mother pure by divorcing her from her sexuality” (32-33). Although Gertrude “remains relatively opaque, more a screen for Hamlet’s fantasies about her than a fully developed character in her own right,” the son “at least believes that she has returned to him as the mother he can call ‘good lady’ (3. .
182)” (34).As a result, Hamlet achieves “a new calm and self-possession” but at a high price: “for the parents lost to him at the beginning of the play can be restored only insofar as they are entirely separated from their sexual bodies. This is a pyrrhic solution to the problems of embodiedness and familial identity . .
. ” (35). Brown, John Russell. “Connotations of Hamlet’s Final Silence. ” Connotations 2 (1992): 275-86.
This article responds to the criticism leveled at John Russell Brown’s “Multiplicity of Meaning in the Last Moments of Hamlet,” particularly the charge of failure “to show how the wide range of meanings in the single last sentence was related to the whole of the play in performance” (275). This article insists that the Hamlet actor’s presence on stage and enactment of events provides the audience with a physical knowledge of Hamlet, void of the psychological dimension that ambiguous language camouflages. Hamlet’s wordplay is “an essential quality of his nature,” which remains intact during the process of his dying (275).While the original article’s dismissal of the “O, o, o, o” addition (present in the Folio after Hamlet’s last words) received negative responses from Dieter Mehl and Maurice Charney, this article argues that doubts of authenticity, authority, and dramatic effectiveness justify this decision. The physical death on stage and the verbal descriptions of Hamlet’s body also negate the need for a last-minute groan.
Ultimately, the “stage reality” co-exists with words yet seems “beyond the reach of words”; hence, in Hamlet, Shakespeare created “a character who seems to carry within himself something unspoken and unexpressed . . . ight up until the moment Hamlet dies” (285).
Brown, John Russell. “Multiplicity of Meaning in the Last Moments of Hamlet. ” Connotations 2 (1992): 16-33. Given that a tragedy excites an audience’s interest in the hero’s private consciousness, this article asks, “Has Shakespeare provided the means, in words or action, whereby this hero [Hamlet] comes, at last, to be ‘denoted truly’? ” (18).
Throughout Hamlet, the protagonist speaks ambiguously. His linguistic trickery only heightens the audience’s anticipation of resolution (and revelation of Hamlet’s inner thoughts).Yet the last line of the dying Prince—“the rest is silence” (5. . 363)—proves particularly problematic, with a minimum of five possible readings.
For example, Shakespeare perhaps speaks through Hamlet, “telling the audience and the actor that he, the dramatist, would not, or could not, go a word further in the presentation of this, his most verbally brilliant and baffling hero” (27); the last lines of Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, and Love’s Labor’s Lost suggest a pattern of this authorial style. While all five readings are plausible, they are also valuable, allowing audience and actor to choose an interpretation.This final act of multiplicity seems fitting for a protagonist “whose mind is unconfined by any single issue” (31). Bugliani, Francesca. “‘In the mind to suffer’: Hamlet’s Soliloquy, ‘To be, or not to be. ’” Hamlet Studies 17.
1-2 (Summer/Winter 1995): 10-42. This article analyzes Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy as “a deliberation on the conflict between reason and passion” (11). After surveying the Elizabethan scholarship on passion, it examines how Shakespeare “modelled Hamlet according to Elizabethan and Jacobean ideas of melancholy” (11).Hamlet frequently “assumes a melancholic ask” when interacting with other characters, but his melancholic sentiments expressed through soliloquies appear “genuine rather than stereotypical” (14). A line-by-line analysis of the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy suggests that it “encapsulates the main theme of Hamlet”: “Both the play and the soliloquy are animated by the conflict between the ideal of Socratic or, more precisely Stoic, imperturbability cherished by Hamlet and his guiltless, inevitable and tragic subjection to the perturbations of the mind” (26).
“genuine rather than stereotypical” (14).