Shakespeare's use of the theatre, particularly the unique design of the Elizabethan theatre, allowed Shakespeare to challenge his audience in distinctive ways.
1. Body representation in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Elizabeth Tudor knew the power of display, ad how to display her power as a Queen. She wants to identify her body with England and demonstrates that a female can be amonarchy. Elizabeth needed to portrait herself as a ‘Virgin Queen’: for a lot of European countries she was an illegitimate queen because of her mother was Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII married without the Roman Church consent (Kastan, 1991: 28).
In poetry and portraiture, she was represented as a virgin or a goddess or both, not as a normal woman. Her image is turned into an iconography:she was portrayed as married to her kingdom and subjects, under divine protection.
The King or Queen’s body representation and the connection between the Monarch’s body and the State’s body is well represented in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Hamlet, with its focus on bodies, doubts, and believes, helps to develop the idea of Shakespeare’s cultural moment as a transitional one in which modernsubjectivity emerges. Hamlet possesses an ambivalent attitude to corporeality: he staggers between a rejection of the body and a desperate need to find meaning in it.
The play’s title, taken from the Second Quarto, The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, indicates that we are dealing with both a personal and a political situation, with Hamlet the prince and Hamlet the man.
Hamlet bears the samename as his father, the former King. He is the prince, so the heir to the throne but probably Hamlet will never become the new King.
Everything is connected in Hamlet, above all the health of the State as a whole. The play’s early scenes explore the sense of anxiety and dread that surrounds the transfer of power from one ruler to the next. Characters draw explicit connections between the morallegitimacy of a ruler and the health of the nation. Denmark is frequently described as a physical body made ill by the moral corruption of Claudius and Gertrude.
There is an evident ambiguity in an early exchange between Hamlet the father and Hamlet the son. “Remember me” cries the ghost of old Hamlet, and the son Hamlet replies:
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds aseat
In this distracted globe.
(I.5.91, 95 – 97)
The primary sense of his metaphor refers to his head, his troubled mind (Garber, 2004: 466 – 469).
But there is also the literal sense of ‘globe’: the world of the play is itself maddened, diseased. Old Hamlet has been poisoned, and the poison affects not only the King, but the State because when the King is weak, so too is the Kingdom (Garber,2004: 467 – 505).
The last metaphor alludes to The Globe itself.
In the play the ‘metaphor of the body’ is often expressed through the military vocabulary.
This play is about the obsession on the body. It is possible to identify a contrast between the ‘physical body’ and the ‘metaphorical body’. In the tragedy the body is always ill.
John Hunt examines the play's use of corporeal imagery inorder to show that Hamlet is unable to react to the demands made upon him by the Ghost until he accepts his own physicality and overcomes his contempt for the body. Hunt suggests that the physical body is used not only as a symbol of Hamlet's disgust for physicality, it also serves as a representation of the spirit, Christ, the Church, and the body politic.
The ‘physical body’ in Hamlet formshuman experience, being the medium through which men suffer and act. But Hunt argues the body also deforms human beings and has the power to reduce them to nothing (Hunt, 1988:27).
The ‘political body’ is more than a metaphor for social organization in the play. Shakespeare seems to be methodically deconstructing the body, he reduces life to its corporeal elements.
In Hamlet there are body parts...
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