Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Act 2 Video Response - Due Friday, October 7

Objective: Watch the four passages from Branagh's Hamlet from Act 2 Scene 2 and argue which of the four videos (passages) is the most important in establishing Hamlet's state of mind.
Your critique should address Shakespeare's purpose and intent, as well as address Branagh's interpretation of the video, which must be based on your knowledge and understanding of the passage; so you must provide textual evidence from Hamlet as well as provide descriptions of the video. I can't watch the video and read your ideas at the same time, so you need to make me see what you see with your words. It will also help you to take notes on the video while you watch it. Pay attention to what captures your attention.
Notice what you notice! Pay attention to:
  • delivery of the lines
  • imagery the setting / scenery
  • the portrayal of the actor
  • lighting & camera effects
  • sound effects or music
Write your response in a Word document.  Revise and proofread it.  Then, copy and paste as a comment here.  I will publish all comments after the due date.


  1. Video number 1 is the video that explained Hamlets state of mind the best. This was the video when Polonius was having a conversation with Hamlet to try and determine how mad in love with Ophelia Hamlet actually was.
    This scene truly showed that Hamlets state of mind was crazy or border line insane. I say this for many reasons. One reason was shown at the beginning of the scene. When Polonius was searching for Hamlet in the lobby, Hamlet showed up with a skeleton mask on. This showed characteristics of being insane because no normal person will walk around with a Halloween mask when the season is not even near. This insane appearance might have been due to his grieving over his fathers death. I have come to this conclusion because Hamlet wears all black in this scene which usually shows signs of mourning.
    The final reason I say that this video shows that Hamlet had a crazy state of mind was because of the actors speech. At one point the man acting as Hamlet was talking with a long remedial slur when mentioning “words”. This slur showed that something might just be wrong with Hamlet because he wasn't born mentally ill but he acts as if he was. That is bizarre and abnormal behavior.
    -Timothy Brown

  2. Khaylian Leflore says:
    In the beginning of the second video, there was fast, upbeat music. This was because Hamlet was going to be reunited with his childhood friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstein. All three men are cheerful in the beginning, and they are talking about what has been going on recently in their lives. When Hamlet starts talking about his recent experiences, he seems genuinely upset, thinking about his father’s death, and his mother’s quick marrige to her brother-in-law. Suddenly, Hamlet gets angry because he knows the reason as to why Rosencrantz and Guildenstein are there (to spy on him). Rightfully, he gets upset with them.
    I think the scene shows that Hamlet is just playing a part. He is glad to see his childhood friends, people he thought he could trust if he ever had a problem, and it turns out that they are there to spy on him. Who wouldn’t get upset by that? Hamlet’s behavior is justified by the things going on around him; I don’t think he’s crazy.

  3. Video 2 is the one that most shows what Hamlet is thinking and that he is in fact not, insane in any way. Hamlets friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive with the pretense to come see him. However Hamlet sees right through them immediately. He ask how sent them, when they don’t answer him he tells his friends that he knows that the King and Queen sent them.
    Hamlet could read the mood and their facial expressions. A sane person has a hard time doing this let alone an insane person. His sanity is there and you can see this through his confidence in his words and the discontent on his face as he asks his friends if they’re there to spy on him.

  4. Toni Cook
    Video one portrays Hamlet's state of mind the best. I chose this video because it shows how Hamlet knows he is an actor and Polonius was fooled by Hamlet''s acting. I do not believe Hamlet has gone crazy because he knows that he is acting. Hamlet's state of mind was portrayed clearly.

    Hamlet knows he is acting because he states this many times throughout the play. In Act three scene four, Hamlet even tells his mother that he is acting, and tells her to promise to keep it a secret. By the way Hamlet was talking to Polon in a sarcastic tone in the video shows he's acting. Hamlet was teasing Polonius with puns and talking silly. Hamlet's state of mind is that he's acting.

    Hamlet is good at playing the role of the actor because Polonius does not notice the puns. Polonius was confused in the video, based on his facial expressions. In the nook, Polonius thought hamlet was gong mad due to being lovesick, but to his surprise Hamlet was acting.

    Hamlet has not gone crazy because he has to act to hide his true plan. Hamlet has to get revenge, so to do that he has to distract Claudius. He may seem crazy because that's the role Hamlet's playing. Hamlet states that he knows he is an actor, and fools everyone throughout the play. Hamlet's state of nature is one of an actor trying to protect the truth.

  5. It is so helpful to see the clips of Hamlet then to read. Although the book gives more detail, the emotion is not there. Clip four did a great job in portraying Hamlets state of mind(s). It showed a weak side of him when he said he felt as if he was a slave and in a fiction as in life for him was not real and the events as well. Shakespeare created Hamlet to be a tragic hero and in this clip that tragic hero shows.
    I read along with the fourth clip, which was on page 117 and 119, and saw that Hamlet was more displeased with his actions and what he saw the player portray of him. He felt as if he did no justice to his father’s death and that he was a coward along with not being the best actor. Line 594 starting at “Yet I…made” tells how he feels toward what the player expressed in the play that Hamlet did not for his own father. He starts to go crazy at (1:45) in the clip when he knocks over the lap and starts to throw himself against the window and wall filled with anger and disappointment in himself.
    After a while at (2:10) of the clip he calms down but seems to go into a villainess mind set. He starts to conjure up a plan to learn the truth of his father’s death and his uncle’s involvement. It seems as if Hamlet has convinced himself that he must take action to avenge his father in order to be brave and king. He sees this as having something to prove. “Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?” line 600. I took this as being the line that he tries to prove that he is a man and that the player will not be able to mock him. At the end of the clip he has his mind set on a plan of setting up the king to see his reaction to the play with some additional changes.
    -Jazmine H.

  6. Vanecia Gordon

    Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is one of his most remarkable and controversial works. Since the play was written and performed people have argued if whether or not Hamlet was crazy or played the role of a crazy person. Branagh's interpretation of Hamlet, showed that Hamlet could either be both crazy or just acting crazy. In Branagh's 4th video Hamlet gives his soliloquy, in the video Hamlet displays to me that he is crazy. There are few ways as to why I classify him as being crazy. In the video Hamlet is talking to himself and it is uncommon to talk yourself for that long in today’s society. Another way in which Hamlet is portrayed as crazy is because he begins to throw and smash things in the video for no reason. And finally Hamlet is crazy because throughout his soliloquy he changes moods too often.

  7. In my opinion, Hamlet’s soliloquy greatly shows Hamlet’s state of mind more than the other videos. This scene takes place in a room with only Hamlet, which I think is appropriate since he says; “Now I am alone.” In his soliloquy, Shakespeare was trying to tell the readers how Hamlet felt about the actor, who came to the castle to tell a story about Hecuba, which is a made up character by the actor. Shakespeare also wants the readers to know what motivated Hamlet to have this play about Old Hamlet’s death.
    Hamlet’s feelings about the actor are expressed in lines 578-598. In the movie, as Hamlet is saying these lines, he is talking in a low voice and almost seeming sympathetic for himself because he doesn’t have the same emotion as the actor. He also starts to scream when he begins to criticize himself for being a coward because he hasn’t done anything to avenge his father’s death.
    As Hamlet continues his soliloquy, he begins to talk about Claudius and how evil he and his actions were. This is expressed in lines 607-610. In the movie scene, Hamlet begins to scream and shout about how Claudius is a “Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, kindles villain!” He also screams when he says, “O vengeance!” because avenging his father’s death is the most important thing to him.
    Finally as Hamlet finishes his soliloquy, he develops a plan to have the actor act out what Old Hamlet’s ghost told him how he died. This is expressed in lines 617-634. In the movie scene, as Hamlet begins to speak about his plan, there is a type of suspenseful music playing. I believe that the music matches the scene because Hamlet has discovered this master plan to help him avenge his father’s house.
    -D. Collier

  8. Shaquara D.
    The scene that is most responsible for Hamlet's state of mind would have to be the scene where the player performs the little skit. Hamlet commanded the player to perform a skit where he and Polonius watched. During the performance the player became very in tune with the skit and became very emotional. This shocked both Polonius and Hamlet.
    Hamlet has been given the task to revenge his fathers death which only he knows about. After watching the player Hamlet seems embarrassed within himself. He saw that this player was able to have more emotion for characters he had no connection to. Hamlet realizes that he hasnt felt any emotion like that when given the job to revenge his fathers death. This makes Hamlet emotional yet angry at the same time.

  9. E. Ruffin
    I believe that Hamlets soliloquy definitely depicts his state of mind the best. This occurred I the fourth video in which Hamlet appeared all by himself. Branagh's interpretation of the video was very interesting. He clearly portrayed the whole scene as if to show that Hamlet was literally all over the place mentally. As the scene opens, Hamlet enters the room fairly calmly, but throughout the story he becomes very angry and aggressive. The book contains the exact same text as used in the video so it is assumed that it too attempted to display Hamlet’s madness. In the video, Hamlets source of madness isn’t because of his love for Ophelia but it’s because he suspects pure malice in the actions of Claudius. The actual scene’s organization and layout is important here also. Hamlet’s line delivery is very emotional and his constant change of pitch from calm to frantic shows his madness. The scenery was lightly dimmed, enough to clearly show movement but not enough to portray a completely sinister mood but frustration. The actor was portrayed in a crazed way in this scene, and unhappy about his short comings of avenging Old Hamlet’s death. The fact that there was no music really shows how important Hamlet's text was.

  10. Conversation between Hamlet and Polonius portrayed two points of view. During the conversation Hamlet was portraying himself as an individual with mental issues. Hamlet also lets it be known to the audience that he doesn’t care for Polonius by calling him a “fishmonger”. In the beginning of the scene Hamlet greets Polonius with a skull on his face; clearly something is wrong with Hamlet because the average person doesn’t walk around with a skull on his or her face. Later in the scene Polonius asks Hamlet what he is reading, Hamlet responds with “Words, words, words.” As Hamlet says those three words his facial expression changes from calm to a disturbed being and he even stretches the last time saying “words”. Hamlet then explains the subject matter of what he is reading. While giving his explanation Hamlet uses many hand gestures and facial expressions which makes him look crazy. Hamlet’s attire is all black which adds to the role of Hamlet being crazy. “…except my life, except my life, except my life.” these are Hamlet’s final words to Polonius, he says it the first time in a calm tone, the second time he whispers, and the third time he shakes his head from side to side and becomes wide eyed. When Polonius leaves Hamlet says to himself “These tedious old fools.” this is portraying Hamlet also playing the role so he can go through with the plan he has devised to kill his uncle.
    Whether Hamlet is crazy or playing the role is a question that constantly brought up throughout the play. This scene clearly shows that Hamlet can be crazy only to play a role. Hamlet purposely acts crazy so Polonius can have valid reason to believe Hamlet is love struck over Polonius’ daughter Ophelia. Being able to see the actor say these lines makes it evident that Hamlet isn’t crazy and that he is only playing a role, which is why this scene is the most important in establishing Hamlet’s state of mind.

    *Briana Curtis*

  11. Joshua Brown
    Ms. Sullivan
    English 4, period 1
    Comment on video

    From the four passages that I have seen, I would like to say that Shakespeare really did his thinking on figuring out how Hamlet the character is acting before and now. I personally believe that Hamlet is acting out no intentionally or because of his love for Ophelia, but to avenge his father by killing Claudis in which the old Hamlet said that Claudis was behind it. Shakespeare is really reaching out to audiences by showing the acting side of Hamlet and them thinking that he is for real, but eventually his true emotions and motives will show in the coming events.
    After watching the four passages I think that video one really showed Hamlets state of mind. The delivery of the lines that Hamlet spoke was very dramatic, humorous, and had a lot of puns especially when speaking to Polonius. The setting was perfect because it showed the future bringing off Hamlet’s childhood buddies. The portrayal of the actor was really exceptional because the actor was really playing Hamlet well. The lighting showed Hamlets pale face symbolizing that he is insane or depressed about something. Finally the music helped the motive of the play and the coming climax.

  12. Hamlet’s state of mind can be characterized as an intelligent person who wants to show emotions through acting them out in real life situations. In the last video clip of Branagh's interpretation of the video Hamlet was upset because he didn’t express the same emotions as the actor did, while talking about his father’s death. Hamlet’s aggressive tone and unpredictable movements expressed his anger throughout his soliloquy. Also, his dark clothing and dull lightening in the room represented his state of depression or anger over the whole situation. The sound effects from Hamlet hitting the window, walls, and throwing objects showed a physical implication of how angry Hamlet was. All of the elements in Branagh's interpretation of the video successfully portrayed the main idea the soliloquy, which was to express Hamlet’s anger of not being able to portray his emotions for his father’s death. This shows that Hamlet is an observing character who learns from others.
    - Haven C.

  13. In my opinion, the most important passage is Hamlets soliloquy, Video 4. I feel as though this is a key scene that shows his state of mind because it clearly illustrates his anger and how he feels. He wants to avenge his father’s death and he wants to do it now. He is conflicted within himself and struck by melancholy but no one really understands how he feels. I think Shakespeare’s intent of such a passage was to give Hamlet a part that clearly stated what he was feeling. Branagh’s interpretation, I felt, was a very descriptive one. The anger, motions, and movement of the actor that portrayed Hamlet clearly portrayed what state of mind Hamlet was in. As Hamlet was yelling “O vengeance” (119) the actor threw himself around in rage signifying that Hamlet feels very strongly about avenging his father’s death due to Claudius, whom he thinks is a bad man. As yelling in anger, talking to himself, Hamlet walks around examining his personal issues. This is due to the delivery of lines from the character which I think fits perfectly into the scene. If such a passage from hamlet was to be removed than I think the story would lose an important characteristic from Hamlet’s character.
    -Kevin Price

  14. Deyontavis

    For Shakespeare’s intent, he wanted Hamlet to show his anger at Claudius every time he thinks about the ghost’s words or the previous king being murdered and his mother marrying Claudius so quickly. Branagh intends to do the same; the difference is that he emphasizes Hamlet’s tone, music in the background, anger vs. sadness in his words, and his body language in the video. The third video show more clearly Hamlet’s state of mine. He talks about how he is unable to get a clear answer from the king but the players have the ability to bring out a person’s emotion. An example of this is on page 117 lines589-598 when he compares himself to the players on how easy it is for them to reveal the truth of a person but he can not. In this scene he speaks gentle of the players but when he talks about himself and his weakness he becomes louder till he begins to scream.

  15. The second of the Act 2 videos best protrays Hamlet as completely sane, and even more so a man of disgiuse. Hamlet knows that he's a character in a play. The actor who plays Hamlet, Branagh, is over-the-top and excellent in his portrayal of a mad-man. He's both serious and comical. The snowy environment represents a casual setting. Hamlet knows that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are spying on him for Claudius and Gertrude but he continues to lead them on to think they will find why he's crazy with persiflage, but he knows they'll get nowhere.He expresses his aggravation with them when he tells them that he knows what they're up to. Then he goes into a serene mood, during which he gives a speech to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The heartfelt and emotional music that plays during this speech makes it seem as if he's giving the speech of a lifetime. Hamlet is out of their league in intelligence, given his excellent wit and poise, which is proof that he's playing a role to fool everyone into thinking he's crazy when he's really sane.
    - Darnell B.

  16. The third video in which Hamlet is giving his soliloquies in an office type of setting is the best video to me that establishes his true state of mine. Many people draw there own opinions of Hamlet but the one question that we all have in common is has Hamlet gone mad or insane? In the video Hamlet’s soliloquies is about the death of his father and how he feels like a failure because he has yet to do anything to retrieve revenge for his father since finding out who the murder was. In this speech he also talks about the marring of his mother to his uncle, his father’s brother and how he felt it was too soon to take place, because he is still grieving over the death of his father and in his opinion she should be doing the same too.
    Hamlet disagrees with a lot of things that have taken place since the murder of his father and in this long speech he reveals them all. Hamlet has not gone insane, he is just a depressed character out to get revenge and this speech shows his true feelings of emotion, sadness and anger to the situation at hand.
    Ashley Felton