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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: March ::
Mousetrap in Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0151  Wednesday, 31 March 2010

From:         Conrad Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 31, 2010 7:13:10 AM EDT
Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 26 Mar 2010 to 30 Mar 2010 (#2010-25)

Tue Sorensen wrote:

>:-) I must reply. It is endlessly amusing how people perceive
>The Mousetrap. My take is even more controversial: The Mousetrap
>is for the mouse, i.e. Gertrude. But what is The Mousetrap?
>Experts don't agree. I say that The Mousetrap is the "dozen or
>sixteen lines" that Hamlet wrote and inserted into The Murder
>of Gonzago, as a play within a play (within a play). Hamlet
>cannot be stopped once he gets started, so he wrote the full 100
>lines spoken by the Player King and Player Queen. A nice long
>exchange the purpose of which is to show Old Hamlet and (young
>Hamlet's ideal version of) Gertrude before Old Hamlet's death.
>Note how Claudius doesn't understand what this is about (because,
>among other things, it has very little to do with The Murder of
>Gonzago), but Gertrude has a reaction. Hence, it must be for her.
>There is no other mouse in this play but Gertrude. The dumb-show
>that entraps Claudius; *that* is the real part of The Murder of
>Gonzago, and we might call that The Rat! trap, Claudius being
>taken for such by Hamlet.
>
>Ahh, but Claudius isn't a rat. He's a serpent, that stung the King.

I counter: Hamlet makes his intentions in staging _the Murder of Gonzago_ clear: they are meant for Claudius. Gertrude is collateral damage (as all the plots and schemes have).

By the way... Gertrude is often played as outraged, at "The lady doth protest too much." But I think the better delivery would have Gertrude vegged out, like someone watching TV, unaware of the relevance of what she was saying. Similarly for Claudius: a murderer asking if the play is PG.

Conrad.

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