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Hamlet's Emotions, Actions, And Importance In The Nunnery Scene

1627 words - 7 pages

Hamlet's Emotions, Actions, and Importance in the Nunnery Scene

"Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh" Hamlet's trust is betrayed by the people who are dearest to his heart (III.i.87). The theme of betrayal takes root before the Shakespeare's tragedy begins, when Hamlet's uncle murders his father and marries his mother. These enormous betrayals, along with other pointed deceptions, justify many of Hamlet's words and actions. A striking example of the deceit Hamlet endures can be seen in act three, scene one of Hamlet: the nunnery scene. When Hamlet steps through the entryway he walks into a web of secrets, deception, and dishonesty. Determined to discover the nature of Hamlet's madness, the king and Polonius have summoned Hamlet to a place where they know he will "run into" Ophelia under their observation; the scene is a set-up. Hamlet is spied on by his stepfather and lied to by his love in this moment of cruel deceit.

In Olivier's 1948 film version of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the nunnery scene allows Hamlet to articulate his frustration without confronting his enemies. Hamlet enters the scene fully aware of its contrived nature, like an actor taking his place on the stage. The ensuing performance is that of a narcissistic child wining just to hear the sound of his own voice; Olivier's Hamlet has no real interaction with any of the other characters in the scene. Olivier's choice to focus on Hamlet and his feelings, rather than the action going on around him, is highlighted in the nunnery scene and evident in the entire play Branagh, on the other hand sees Hamlet as a exciting tale of courtly intrigue and deception. Branagh' s Hamlet's truly affected by the action unfolding Olivier's open and abstract nunnery scene set looks more like a stage than a room in a castle. This choice of setting suggests to the reader that Hamlet's words are purely expressive ramblings (like the words of an actor) rather than pointed dialogue (like the words of a man betrayed). The simplicity of the chamber does not provide any corner for secrets to lurk in or any shadows to cloak deception. This staging reminds the reader that nothing in the scene is hidden form Hamlet. The effect of this set is to shift focus from the scene's action to Hamlet's unaffected performance.

In sharp contrast, the large black and white checked floor of the Nunnery Scene in Branagh's Hamlet is the giant chessboard (C5) on which a complex and intricate game is played. Dozens of hidden doors, two-way mirrors, and secret rooms set up a scene where the truth is elusive and twisted. Branagh's Nunnery Scene is a maze of lies through which Hamlet must struggle to find the truth. The court setting could not be more appropriate to Branagh's idea that this scene is a game of strategies in the peculiar court.

One step away from scenery, Olivier's Ophelia is a pale-skinned, white-gowned, blond haired, and soft-spoken one-dimensional virgin figure. All of Ophelia's feelings...

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