can you give me some info on ''the player'' in''hamlet''

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please if at all possilbe , get me the info before tomorrow .. thank you

-- sanayla artavia wilson (sweet61014@aol.com), March 06, 2002

Answers

I'm not quite sure what you want to know. There's not really much to say about the actual character of 'the player', but here's a rushed bit of stuff which may help thematically/interpretatively or whatever, ie why the players are important in HAMLET.

All the stuff about why the players have come to Elsinore (II.ii.313-351): it's about an episode in the history of British theatre known as the 'War of the Theatres' around 1599-1602. It gets pretty complicated with several satirical plays written by different playwrights, but Shakespeare is basically outlining how a company of boy actors - children - has risen in popularity and is performing plays which mouth of against the established adult companies. This has called the fall in popularity and reputation ('estimation') of the players who have come to Elsinore to work for Hamlet ('offer [him] service'), because they know he likes their work ('Even those you were wont to take delight in').

Hamlet points out the stupidity of having the child actors mouth off against the adult actors considering that they will probably be adult actors themselves when they grow up (lines 332-336).

Hamlet compares the changes in the fortunes of the players with those of his father and uncle (lines 347-351): Claudius has risen in popularity at the expense of Hamlet's father.

The Pyrrhus speech and introduction to it in II.ii.425-500: I think the parallels of all this with some of Hamletís story and view of himself are pretty obvious, but let me know if it's not clear.

The Trojan War between the Greeks and the Trojans was fought because Helen, wife of Menaleaus King of Sparta, abandoned her husband for another man, Paris, son of the King of Troy. The Greeks eventually won, through the ruse of the Trojan horse.

In Virgilís Aeneid, Aeneas, a Trojan, escaped from Troy after it was taken by the Greeks and reached Carthage. There he told Queen Dido about the Trojan War. Dido fell in love with him, but the god Mercury made him leave to fulfil his duty. In her grief Dido ended her life on funeral pyre.

Pyrrhus was the son of the Greek Achilles. Achilles was killed during the course of the Trojan War. Pyrrhus took Ďvengeanceí for his fatherís death by killing Priam, King of Troy and husband of Hecuba.

Hecuba was Priamís second wife: a queen, wife and mother. Since classical times she has been famed as a mother figure - she had as many as nineteen children - and as an epitome of grief: she lost her husband, and Troy, and many of her children suffered through the Trojan War and the fall of Troy.

Paris, the cause of the Trojan War and therefore of her misfortunes, was her son. At Troy Paris was held in contempt by all for his cowardice. During the taking of the city Paris was shot and killed with a poisoned arrow.

This scene with the players is important because of the reaction it prompts from Hamlet, seen in the 'rogue and peasant slave' thing. In II.ii.527-547 Hamlet compares himself to the player: he is worked up because, he says, if the player can be so moved merely by the speech, the 'fiction', of Hecuba's sad tale, he would be so much more moved and moving in Hamlet's situation. Hamlet then berates himself for not acting himself in his situation; and then he elucidates his plan of action: to have the players perform 'The Murder of Gonzago' to get Claudius to betray himself.

III.ii starts with Hamlet's injunctions to the players. This may be authorial voice speaking through Hamlet (ie Shakespeare having his say), but it also goes to Hamlet: he no doubt wants 'The Murder of Gonzago' to be performed very naturally/realistically, rather than affectedly, so that it really disturbs Claudius and Gertrude.

III.ii contains the performance of 'The Murder of Gonzago' by the players which does indeed 'catch the conscience of the King. It also attacks Gertrude for turning so fast from Hamlet's father to Claudius.

Hope some of that helps (in time!).



-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), March 07, 2002.


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