Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0335  Tuesday, 13 February 2001

[1]     From:   Vick Bennison <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 10:01:47 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[2]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 09:30:31 -0600
        Subj:   SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[3]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 11:03:07 EST
        Subj:   RE: Hamler Spy Caught Spying

[4]     From:   Evelyn Gajowski <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 09:17:14 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[5]     From:   L. Swilley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 12:23:38 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[6]     From:   Brother Anthony <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 09:30:03 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[7]     From:   Richard Regan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 23:39:16 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 10:01:47 EST
Subject: 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

I've seen another version that uses the "spy" device to explain Hamlet's
acting crazy.  I think it may have been the Mel Gibson version, but I'm
not sure.

Vick Bennison

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 09:30:31 -0600
Subject: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

I do not think that I am original in essaying that Hamlet watches HAMLET
with the audience. This staging accounts for much of Hamlet's mystical
power of perception.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 11:03:07 EST
Subject:        RE: Hamler Spy Caught Spying

Ron Dwelle queries:

"In Act 3, scene 1, the director has Claudius and Polonius hide behind a
curtain and thus hear Hamlet's soliloquy. But after Ophelia enters,
Hamlet spies a pair of eyes (presumably Polonius's), at which point he
goes bonkers (and turns quite vicious toward Ophelia).

I don't see much textual evidence for it (the spy caught spying), but it
did work nicely (though obviously it changes the scene significantly).
I'm wondering if there's any history of the scene being played in such a
way, or if anyone has seen a similar interpretation staged."

I have the opposite of this question.  Has anyone ever seen this played
any other way?  In every production I've seen Hamlet discovers, or at
least senses, the presence of Claudius & Polonius just before his line
"Where's your father?".  I've assumed this is indicated by the distinct
change in tone, from benign to hostile, that appears in the text.
However, not having seen this performed any other way, I may have been
lured into accepting this interpretation as definitive.  Ron is correct,
I believe, in that there is no stage direction to this effect.  Does
anyone know how this interpretation got started?  Is it just coincidence
that I've never seen anything different?

Philip Tomposki

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Evelyn Gajowski <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 09:17:14 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

To Ron Dwelle:

I think that that staging may not be as uncommon as you might think, at
least in the last decade or so.  In Zeffirelli's 1990 *Hamlet*, Mel
Gibson's Hamlet notices that Claudius and Polonius steal away to spy on
him just before the "nunnery" scene with Helena Bonham Carter's
Ophelia.  (The "To be or not to be" soliloquy is moved to Hamlet alone
in a crypt, though.)  In Branagh's 1996 *Hamlet*, his own Hamlet
discerns that C and P are spying on him in the hall of mirrors when one
of them coughs behind one of the mirrors.  It is at that point that he
asks Kate Winslet's Ophelia, "Where's your father?" and becomes enraged
when she answers, "At home, my lord."  In Nevada Shakespeare in the
Park's Sept. 1999 production of *Hamlet*, Bill Mendieta's Hamlet
addressed (at least parts of) "To be or not to be" to Jane Longenecker's
Ophelia, who was on stage throughout 3.1.

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 12:23:38 -0600
Subject: 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

Ron Dwelle asks,

"In Act 3, scene 1, the director has Claudius and Polonius hide behind a
curtain and thus hear Hamlet's soliloquy. But after Ophelia enters,
Hamlet spies a pair of eyes (presumably Polonius's), at which point he
goes bonkers (and turns quite vicious toward Ophelia).

  "I don't see much textual evidence for it (the spy caught spying), but
it did work nicely (though obviously it changes the scene
significantly). I'm wondering if there's any history of the scene being
played in such a  way, or if anyone has seen a similar interpretation
staged."

[As I recall, Olivier has his Hamlet suspect that someone is listening
from behind the arras; he steps along and ruffles it - then turns on
Ophelia with audience in mind.]

        [L. Swilley]

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brother Anthony <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 09:30:03 +0900
Subject: 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

There is a short mention of this question in a 'long note' to
III.i.130-1  (p.496) in the Harold Jenkins's Arden edition where the
stage convention of allowing Hamlet to know he is being watched is said
to date from the early 19th century. Jenkins does not find this correct,
saying that normally an awareness of being watched is clearly expressed
in dialogue and that the sudden question "Where's your father?" does not
need such a gross motivation. I rather think we discussed this issue
about 4 years ago on SHAKSPER.

Br Anthony
Sogang University, Seoul

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 23:39:16 EST
Subject: 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

The spy caught spying is also featured in the Williamson Hamlet, where
Polonius watches through the crossed ropes supporting a hammock, whose
lacing traces the shape of a crown.

The Zeffirelli Hamlet also uses the spier spied image, when Polonius
catches a glimpse of Hamlet eavesdropping on his briefing of Ophelia.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.