Knock, Knock. Who’s There?
29 October 2015
Knock, knock. Who’s There?
Hamlet and his mother seem to have a strange relationship in comparison to other well-known mother and son duos. Hamlet confronting Gertrude seems to be the turning point in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, in which Hamlet truly turns mad. The context of this particular scene seems to illustrate Hamlet’s true madness and that this is no longer an act as he claimed it to be. Before Hamlet even enters the bedroom, the way he calls out his mother’s name is just in a strange, creepy context. Once in her room, he then goes on yelling at her because she has married not only her husband’s brother right after King Hamlet’s death, but his murderer as well. While ranting to his mother, he hears a noise behind the door which happened to Polonius, whom he shoots and kills, thinking it is Claudius. He claims Gertrude’s relationship with Claudius is only for sex. He says, “You cannot call it love; for at your age, the hey-day in the blood is tame, it’s humble” (III.iv.67-68). The apparition of the ghost then appears. Hamlet drops to the floor and curls into a ball and he seems to experience some type of distress upon seeing his father’s ghost. After reminding Prince Hamlet not to take everything out on his mother, King Hamlet disappears into the cracked mirror. After the talk with his father’s ghost, Hamlet seems to be a little less mad and on edge. He says goodnight to his mother and then drags Polonius’ body out with him. After Hamlet leaves, Claudius walks in and asks where Hamlet is. Even his own mother believes he is mad. Gertrude describes him as being, “Mad as the sea and wind when both contend” (IV.i.6). This scene is very significant to the play as a whole because this seems to be Hamlet’s true turning point from being just depressed about his father’s death, to becoming truly mad.
Hamlet’s character develops from being depressed and wanting to seek vengeance for his father, to truly being mad. Throughout the first half of the play, Hamlet has opportunities to kill Claudius, but he overthinks it and comes up with some excuse as to why he could not. When Claudius was praying, Hamlet had the perfect opportunity to stab him, but he makes an excuse; he claims that because Claudius was praying, he would go to heaven and Hamlet would go to hell. This opportunity shows that Hamlet wants to seek revenge for his father, but he is still somewhat rational in his thought. In this scene I have chosen, Hamlet hears someone behind the doors while talking to Gertrude and fires a gun, killing Polonius almost instantly. Before, Hamlet could not make the definite decision to kill Claudius because of his overthinking, but at this point in the play, he seems to have completely lost it and did not appear to have second thoughts about firing his gun at the voice. The movie even goes as far as showing Hamlet restrained in a chair to show his true craziness and all it had taken for the guards to get him to calm down a little in order to find where he had put Polonius’ body. This scene is also important to the theme of depression, death and mania in the play because after Polonius’ death, Ophelia seems to take on the same hysteria that Hamlet had exhibited.