I've been asked to write an Essay for english class on Hamlet. It says so :
Select one speech from the play and write an essay that analyzes how it targets its audience. You may choose a target audience of any context or production of the play - the original Elizabethan, or a later dramatic version. If you choose a later dramatic version (Branagh’s version, Gibson’s version, or Olivier’s version) you must deal with all the interpretive evidence of the version you choose. You have to be true to the evidence.
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Can someone please explain or give me an example? I'm not asking anyone to write it for me, just clarify, please :)
Thanks in advance!
Well, the first issue is that you don't mention the play you are speaking about. I can tell it's a play because you say "Act IV." I can tell it's an Elizabethan play because you mention it as such. Finally, I can whittle it down to Hamlet because that's the only one (I think) where Branagh, Gibson, and Olivier have played the leading role.
I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest something a bit different: Ophelia's speech in Scene V. I LOVE THAT SCENE! And I have seen it played in so many different ways. Generally, it can be played as Ophelia being "just plain crazy," ... or Ophelia being "sexually perverted and crazy," ... or Ophelia putting "an antic disposition on" as Hamlet does.
The trouble with writing this kind of essay is that I'm not sure how you can prove the "effect" on the audience. It is a true conundrum. I guess you would have to use conjecture of how people would react. In my opinion, Gibson's version is PERFECT. There is a lot of sexual innuendo in this scene during the Gibson version.
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead;
Go to thy deathbed;
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll.
Look at all the innuendo that could be interpreted HERE! Just look at the words "come" & "flaxen was his poll"! I would take each incident and examine the cause (the rhyme Ophelia recites or the action she takes) and what the audience's (and sometimes the actor's) reaction would be. In general, the reasoning MIGHT BE because today's modern audience is more interested in the sex stuff?
You could take a different route with Ophelia's speech and talk of the cause and effect of her giving out different herbs (such as "rue" that literally means "regret") to different characters.
There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they with- er'd all when my father died.
However, Shakespeare gives no direction as to who she gives them to; therefore, your essay could be about who she gives them to and why. The cause of her giving each one, ... and the effect on the audience and the character who receives them. You could do this for any of the versions.
In conclusion, I have to say that the Gibson version is my absolute favorite. The Gertrude in the Gibson version does a GREAT job describing Ophelia's death scene as well in scene VII. That could be another idea for your essay.