Play and Theater Analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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“I don't really agree with the notion of setting the plays anywhere in particular. When asked that question about Hamlet I tend to say that it was set on the stage.”-Neil Armfield1.
No other quote on Shakespeare’s Hamlet could have more precisely summed up the play’s echoic, reverberant and hauntingly evocative self-referential quality. No other playwright deployed the language, conventions and the resources of the theatre as effectively, so as to bring alive the whole world of the text/stage to the world of the audience. This connecting chord between the script on the page and the script in performance in Shakespeare leads to a plurification of significance and meanings to the play. Ian McKellan, in John Barton’s Playing Shakespeare: An Actor’s Guide, rightly avers of the connection:
“Perhaps it's because Shakespeare himself was an actor that he uses the metaphor of the actor and of the theater so often in his plays. Often when a character is at the peak of his emotional problems he compares himself with an actor: "struts and frets his hour upon the stage." This has a wonderful resonance for an audience...” Thus, it is clear that Hamlet is a play that implicates itself within the paradigm of “play” and the various acts of branching out thereof. These would include the notion of “play” itself, the centrality of “play” within the play, the simultaneous power of the ‘play’ and the threat it generates and the thin line of seperation between the ‘play’ within the play & the play and the play & reality. As frustrating and confusing as the above would sound, this particular phase of Hamlet has intrigued and fascinated literary critics, scholars, theatre-goers, drama critics, reviewers and the plebeian alike.

Therefore, the aim of t...

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...Directions. Ed. Hardin L. Aasand. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2003.
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Malone, Cynthia Northcutt. “Framing in Hamlet.” College Literature 18.1. Feb. 1991.
McGuire, Philip C. “Bearing ‘A wary eye’: Ludic Vengeance and Doubtful Suicide in Hamlet.” From Page to Performance: Essays in Early English Drama. Ed. John Alford. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1995.
Motohashi, Tetsuya. “‘The play’s the thing . . . of nothing’: Writing and ‘the liberty’ in Hamlet.” Hamlet and Japan. Ed. Yoshiko Uéno. Hamlet Collection 2. New York: AMS, 1995.
Wagner, Joseph B. “Hamlet Rewriting Hamlet.” Hamlet Studies 23. 2001.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in The Norton Shakespeare, gen. ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York and London:W. W. Norton. 1997.
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