The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0145  Tuesday, 30 March 2010

From:         Tue Sorensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         March 27, 2010 5:29:05 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0136  Mousetrap in Hamlet
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0136  Mousetrap in Hamlet

Conrad Cook wrote:

>Well, I got in trouble the last time I broached this
>subject. But look: It doesn't put Hamlet in the role
>of God at all, as he does not knowingly send his only
>begotten son to get slaughtered.
>The _Mousetrap_ is indeed a trap, but it snaps closed
>on the wrong person -- Polonius.
>"What ho, a rat!"
>Polonius is hiding in the skirts, err tapestries of
>Gertrude when Hamlet penetrates them with his rapier.
>Hamlet ends that scene by admonishing Gertrude not to
>allow Claudius to paddle her neck with his damned fingers,
>and calling her his MOUSE...
>Right. Mouse-trap. Snaps closed on Polonius.

:-) 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 Rattrap, Claudius being taken for such by Hamlet.

- Tue Sorensen,
Copenhagen, Denmark

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