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Title: Framing in Hamlet. By: Malone, Cynthia Northcu, College Literature, 00933139, Feb91, Vol. 18, Issue 1 Database: Academic Search Premier
FRAMING IN HAMLET
After The Murder of Gonzago has come to its premature end, Guildenstern chides the irrepressible Hamlet: "Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame" (3.2.300). Guildenstern clearly means to call the wild and whirling words of the Prince into discursive order, but the formulation of his remark makes him appear even more obtuse than usual.[ n1] Hamlet has framed a theatrical mousetrap to demonstrate Claudius's guilt, and he has surrounded this play-within-a-play with a framing discourse. Not only has Guildenstern witnessed The Murder of Gonzago without noticing that framing discourse, he has apparently forgotten Hamlet's discourse on framing, delivered just a few scenes earlier: I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging ﬁrmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden ﬁre, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. ( 2-2,295-303) How can Guildenstern fail so completely to see the frames of Hamlet's discourse? The answer may lie as much in the ﬁgure of the frame as it does in the blind eye of the beholder. A frame marks out visual space, but the frame itself seems, paradoxically, to vanish from sight.[ n2] In this essay, I want to bring the self-effacing frames of Hamlet into focus. Hamlet's commentary on "this goodly frame" locates its speaker within a cosmic frame, crawling between earth and heaven; but it also situates that speaker more speciﬁcally within the microcosmic frame of the Globe theater, between the stage ﬂoor and the roof that juts out above the players' heads.[ n3] Thus the speech positions the text of Hamlet within the spatial conﬁgurations of the Globe. By calling attention to the theatrical frame, the passage offers a beginning point for theoretical inquiry into the relations between the textual and spatial conﬁgurations of the dramatic work. That these elements of a dramatic work are inseparable is suggested by the resistance of Elizabethan players to the publication of dramatic texts. As
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almost imperceptible dimension of depth that a closer analysis of the frame restores to our sight: the structure that marks out the space between the frame's edges and forms the foundation of the work.hk/ehost/detail?sid. 2 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . and no visible boundaries deﬁne the open sides of the Globe stage.ebscohost. Indeed.[n6] These transgressions demonstrate the inherent doubleness of boundaries: the lines that demarcate the "inside" and "outside" function both as limits and as sites of transition." mark out the limits of the theatrical space. where spectacle and spectator may exchange places. The rectilinear shape constituted by the roof. positioning these textual issues within the discussion of the theatrical space.eproxy1. precisely nothing constitutes the ground of the dramatic ﬁgure. but the theater deploys a third spatial dimension. that resistance implies that the players saw "the real play" to be "the performance. with notable exceptions." as M. van den Berg.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. at once marking out its limits and opening the edges to the space "outside. The framed canvas. of course. the Globe theater. by the visible and audible intrusions of "the elite" seated on the stage.[ n5] No tangible structure marks out the space between the edges of the theatrical frame. Yet the framed canvas involves another. an effect of perspectival conventions. Drawing on recent discussions of framing. appears to its observer as a relatively ﬂat surface. on the contrary. Later sections of the essay will consider thematic and formal issues of framing in Hamlet. M. and these virtual boundaries can be crossed by the extruding limbs or bodies of actors. stage ﬂoor. that the "inside" and "outside" of the theatrical frame are. not the text" (43). Like the frame around a canvas. to unfold it outward. Given the openness at three faces of the theatrical frame. in the hall playhouses. the frame can serve as a metaphor for the theatrical structure that demarcates the space of dramatic performance. the theatrical frame delimits the dramatic work. of course. a function of the bottom edge. is a virtual boundary. Stephen Orgel argues. In Hamlet's speech. I want to extend the ﬁgure of the frame.hku." "Any building used as a theater puts a physical boundary between the performance and the world outside. The speech describes no boundaries that deﬁne the width of this space. those limits are determined by the horizontal extent of the stage ﬂoor. The ﬁrst section of this essay will examine the particular theatrical frame in which Hamlet was ﬁrst performed. Perceptually and practically. The theatrical ﬁgure appears against or within the empty enclosure of performance space. "earth" and "oerhanging ﬁrmament. "but the playhouse establishes this boundary in a striking way that dramatizes the independence of the theatrical event" (28). and it belongs integrally to the theatrical world framed by stage ﬂoor and ceiling. the wooden edges that deﬁne the top.com. The front of the performance space. in other words." according to Kent T. on the other hand.lib. Closer investigation reveals... however. ﬂaunting their disapproval of the play or nudging the actors and engaging them in conversation. and open sides calls to mind the frame that edges a canvas. Reese notes (99). stage and roof. The play is constituted. the dramatic action is contained within the virtual boundaries of imaginary vertical lines at the outer limits of the top and bottom edges. like the sides. This structure serves as the ground on or within which the work appears. by its embodiment within the theatre. "where they would advertise their eminence in various tiresome ways. the dimension of depth. particularly difﬁcult to distinguish. any illusion of depth within the work is a trompe-l'oeil. or.[ n4] Exploded into a hexahedron.
in turn. "QUESTIONABLE SHAPE" Now is come the horrible mome. thereby enfolding the unseen "behind. the groundlings might have found it particularly difﬁcult to contain the dramatic performance within a perceptual frame. and the play's pattern of entrances and exits from "behind" the stage is complicated and doubled by its concealment of ﬁgures on the stage. Hamlet begins by crossing an entrance and an exit in the changing of the watch. the conditions of dramatic performance at the Globe -..EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. Indeed. the pressing crowds.lib."[n7] Given the ﬂuid boundaries of the Globe stage. The Ghost.com. both the groundlings and their well-dressed betters made spectacles of themselves. it seeps outward: before." In the same way. above. functions as the outermost edge of the play. and the dumb show surrounds the play-within-the-play with a margin of silence. "behind" its furnishings.the afternoon sun. between. However.eproxy1. to be surprisingly permeable. must go 'ome. or in the nothingness that surrounds the frame? Does this audible absence belong to the dramatic ﬁgure or to the empty ground? Or is he a ﬁgure of the ground. able to counter and contain the emptiness within which the dramatic work appears. below. since any sudden shower would surely burst open that frame. and back seem at ﬁrst sight reassuringly solid. Hamlet plays out a sequence of dramatic frames that mirror the theatrical frame and double its doubleness. with Hamlet's running commentary mediating between this frame of silence and the text it marks off.[n8] The space of performance.hk/ehost/detail?sid. the nut-cracking and apple-crunching that punctuated the performance --would have militated against that perceptual act. is he inside or outside the frame? Invisibly concealed "below. frames The Murder of Gonzago. so that the space of dramatic performance seems to ﬂow uninterrupted around the roof into the space "above. the space "below" the stage reaches upward. (Smith 223) If the frame deﬁnes the shape of the theatrical space." is he located in the nothingness that grounds the work. yet for the spectator at the Globe. judging from dramatic prologues of the period. bottom. it also calls that shape into question. Must go `ome. only the audience's perceptual act of framing limits the theatrical experience to the space marked out by the stage area." seamlessly linking "inside" and "outside. the ﬁgure of the Ghost gives shape to the play as a revenge 3 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . truly "a thing of nothing"? No trap penetrates through the roof of the stage. not only through the trap in the stage ﬂoor. for its edges function less as retaining walls than as sites at which "inside" and "outside" cross.. When I to my sulphureous home. so that the actors' visible presence on the stage deﬁnes only one phase of their circulation. as lawful or illicit spies. When the Ghost calls out from beneath the stage. the space "above" the roof is always visible.hku. cannot be contained completely by the theatrical frame. As the outermost frame of Hamlet. Yet these apparently solid barriers also turn out. The revenge plot. in the case of the Globe.ebscohost. These concealments seem to extend backward the space of performance. that "questionable shape" who appears by night to frame the revenge plot at Elsinore. The entrances and exits of the actors call attention to some holding place "behind" the stage. behind. Furthermore. then.
5. both literal and ﬁgurative. the victim and the motive. "If thou didst ever thy dear father love.43).5. for the stage ghost is a stock character of the genre.50. for the Ghost's immediate audience fails to link the stage ghost with the motive of revenge.hku. But the Ghost in Hamlet also differs markedly from Andrea. Andrea.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. are static ﬁgures that remain outside the action yet set the plot in motion. His reading seems persuasive. hazards other guesses: perhaps the Ghost walks to warn of a danger it knows to threaten Denmark.1. The King who slew old Fortinbras has returned to urge his country on against the upstart son of "ambitious Norway. and like Andrea.4. Here again." shrouded in mystery. Mystery -or." says Barnardo. the Ghost of Hamlet functions as the play's pretext. and silence (1. Shakespeare suggests additional possibilities for the shape of the play by deferring the call to revenge until the ﬁfth scene. Entering the stage from a world whose "secrets" he is "forbid to tell. The Ghost frames the play deﬁnitively as a revenge tragedy when he tells young Hamlet that he is "bound" to exact "revenge" once he has heard the story of his father's murder (1. Along with the allegorical ﬁgure of Revenge. is a liminal ﬁgure..[n9] Shakespeare's Ghost calls to mind the kindred revenge ghost in Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy (1592).eproxy1. 63-64). The Ghost's words deﬁne the origin of the threat to Denmark: it is not an external military threat but a poison. the changing of the guard that opens the play involves an entrance and an exit." the spirit intones. Since he appears in "strange and warlike form. and these movements simultaneously deﬁne the visible space where the action of the play will unfold and gesture to the undeﬁned space beyond. at the very center of the state. the absence without which there would be no revenge and no play. "the interrogative mood" -." wearing "the very armour he had on When he th'ambitious Norway combated. on the other hand. Andrea and Revenge. or perhaps it has stored up "Extorted treasure in the womb of earth" (140). "that was and is the question of these wars" (112-15).ebscohost. The Ghost in Hamlet.23." the Ghost describes his 4 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . tragedy.lib. Andrea remains onstage in The Spanish Tragedy. this Ghost frames the revenge plot.com. the liminal ﬁgure of the Ghost opens up Elsinore to the world outside its temporal and spatial limits. then. darkness. and it is not Fortinbras but Claudius whose deeds prevent the Ghost from ﬁnding rest. 25). Passing in and out of the dramatic world. The scholarly Horatio.. Like Andrea. Hamlet begins by demarcating these boundaries. and his desire for revenge. the ghost of Hamlet's father enters-the dramatic world in "questionable shape. "[r]evenge his foul and most unnatural murder" (1. reviewing Elizabethan ghostlore. While Andrea immediately exposes his identity." "Well may it sort that this portentous ﬁgure Comes armed through our watch so like the king. As the Ghost deﬁnes the task of revenge. The early scenes of the play articulate these additional possibilities.hk/ehost/detail?sid.is the predominant impression of this scene ("World" 504). The shrouded and mysterious form of the play emerges as the Ghost breaks out of silence to issue the call for revenge. in Maynard Mack's phrase. 7). he also deﬁnes a boundary between the dramatic world and that which lies beyond. visibly framing the central action of the play. his origin. this Ghost is reminiscent of Andrea. Even as the presence of the stage ghost in Hamlet calls to mind the genre of revenge tragedy.6. for he repeatedly crosses the boundaries of the dramatic world." Barnardo attributes the Ghost's appearance to Denmark's military preparations (1.
in scene 5. suspension between these realms: I am thy father's spirit. As he tells the tale of the murder. He seems to embody the point at which space and time meet emptiness and eternity.9-15) Alternating between the world of Hamlet and the world beyond.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. in Hamlet. And for the day confin'd to fast in fires. Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purg'd away. Similarly. Rather. this ghost is an apt reminder of the boundary of mortal experience. the blank ground and margin of the dramatic text.13-16). both inside and outside that world.that which is beyond speech.as Horatio and the watchmen learn when they attempt to strike him. Silence penetrates into speech and 5 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 .com. "I could a tale unfold whose lightest word / Would harrow up thy soul" (1.eproxy1.38-42 The spirit of King Hamlet here enacts a dumb show of the drama he will frame in his encounter with Hamlet. speech threatens to lapse into silence. The "scent" of the morning air presages his return to the other world.lib. A dramatic ﬁgure within the emptiness of the ground. The Ghost is completely silent when he ﬁrst appears. issuing the command to "swear.. as the range of speculation demonstrates. he is visible and seems to occupy space.. speak of silence. he appears between midnight and the ﬁrst hour of the ensuing day." he tells Hamlet. Prohibitions from the world beyond suppress free speech.hku. Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night. silence is a force that counters speech. he also mediates between speech and silence -. Only when the Ghost is alone with Hamlet will his silence give way to speech.1. He materializes as a visual image of the description that Barnardo is about to give: Last night of all When yond same star that's westward from the pole Had made his course t'illume that part of heaven Where now it burns. so the Ghost must make his tale "brief" (58-59). his appearance interrupts language.[n10] This silent apparition is both enigmatic and inﬁnitely suggestive. Even during his nocturnal walks." he seems to inhabit the very borders of the dramatic world.5. deﬁning the conditions of its possibility. And when he descends beneath the stage. but he cannot be located physically -.hk/ehost/detail?sid. furthermore.5. as we have seen. (1. (1.ebscohost. is not merely the absence of speech. "But that I am forbid to tell the secrets of my prison-house. Marcellus and myself. but his very words. the temporal margin between one day and the next. The bell then beating one-ENTER Ghost. Just as the Ghost mediates between the dramatic world and the world beyond. he frames the action taking place onstage. Silence. the Ghost serves as a site of exchange between ﬁgure and ground.
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase As "Well. we know..hk/ehost/detail?sid. but he cannot read the impenitent heart of Claudius. Until that turn.182-88). providing a commentary on silence. Ghostly silences delimit the dramatic world by gesturing toward that which is beyond speech." Or "If we list to speak. The Ghost fades into silence while commanding silence." "speech" or "language. The Ghost reappears when Hamlet violates this boundary. with an act that belongs to the dramatic world. His companions must vow never. but to leave Gertrude to heaven and her own conscience. the world of heavenly justice. Hamlet's companions are visible reminders of this oath for the remainder of the play. the Ghost returns to recall him to his proper task: 6 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . The terrible irony of the moment is that the prince cannot ﬁll the part he takes on.ebscohost. since the Prince is "of all heroes the most voluble." or "There be and if they might. to note That you know aught of me -. he is a foil for this tragic hero.com. So grace and mercy at your most need help you.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. especially. That this all but silent ﬁgure should be named "Horatio" gives pause. or this head shake. Hamlet takes up the role of marginal commentator. like the Ghost.. a world of space and time." Horatio is given "as little speech as may be" ("Jacobean" 214).hku. since the name bears strong phonemic resemblance to "oratio. and it predicts the crossing from speech to silence at the conclusion of the play. Hamlet's words highlight the strictness and solemnity of silence. when Hamlet bids Horatio tell his story. As Mack points out. he exchanges the role of revenger for that of Almighty Judge.lib. The Ghost instructs Hamlet to demand payment in blood from Claudius.103). The physical act of murder is to be repaid in kind. and Hamlet's attention turns from the physical act of revenge commanded by the Ghost to the problem of divine justice. railing on about the "king of shreds and patches" whom she has taken in his father's place (3. But retribution for Gertrude's sin belongs to the world beyond.[n12] Thus as Hamlet condemns his mother. Ghostlike silence of forbidden speech." Or such ambiguous giving out.the most "ambiguous giving out"-and the briefest gesture must be suppressed alike. but surely he is the most reticent of foils. is the silent margin framing Hamlet's speech. Horatio frames the play with the pregnant. With arms encumber'd thus. The impulse to seize the moment and "do it pat" gives way to reﬂection. (1.eproxy1. Hamlet comes upon Claudius praying. echoing Hamlet's instruction to Horatio and the watchmen. but the Ghost's speech also shapes the play by deﬁning the boundaries of Hamlet's revenge. Horatio. The most cryptic comment -.3. threatens to choke it off.5."[n11] The opposition of name and function serves to mark him as another border creature.this do swear." or "We could and if we would. On his way to answer Gertrude's summons after "The Mousetrap" has sprung shut.
between elements inside and outside the spectacle.53-54). at the same time. The framing play halts. on the question whether t'was nobler in the mind to suffer. "The Mousetrap"-Hamlet frames a silenced truth. Hamlet's counterfeit presentments-The Murder of Gonzago.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. but they cannot restore Denmark to rightness. the court remains part of the dramatic spectacle. When the court of Elsinore serves as audience to the framed play. (Dickens 275) From the closing scene of act 1 until the ﬁnal moments of the play. as we have seen. and the stage as theater. Through The Murder of Gonzago--tropically. the account of the murder. As the Players enact The Murder of Gonzago. In the closet scene with Gertrude. The distinction between the "inside" and "outside" of the theatrical performance. "COUNTERFEIT PRESENTMENT" Whenever that undecided Prince had to ask a question or state a doubt. "The counterfeit presentment of two brothers" (3. and the play-within-the-play calls attention to the difﬁculty of deﬁning this distinction. Do not forget. One framed portrait contains "the front of Jove himself.lib. and some inclining to both opinions said `toss up for it'. when this embedded play begins. Hamlet rationalizes the performance of The Murder of Gonzago as a means of testing the honesty of the Ghost. amazement on thy mother sits. the boundaries between framing play and framed play. and quite a Debating Society arose. some roared yes. but it may be that the prince also ﬁnds representing the crime easier than achieving revenge. But look.64). for the Globe audience. "a mildew'd ear" (56. is always problematic. Hamlet does not enact the revenge that the Ghost commands. it seems to be partly assimilated to the larger audience of the Globe. (110-15) Hamlet has usurped the role of divine justice and left undone the part of the revenge which belongs to the dramatic world. the public helped him out with it.eproxy1. like 7 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works. the murder of his father. As for example. Hamlet cannot carry out the commands of the Ghost by forcing mirrors into frames. become pointedly blurred. Hamlet contrasts the portraits of his father and Claudius: "Look here upon this picture. and on this.. O step between her and her fighting soul. and the contrasting portraits-mirror the heinous crime that has taken place at Elsinore. the Ghost does not permit this reshaping of the story.4. its attention ﬁxed on the dramatic spectacle. he replays the crime in a series of counterfeit presentments." the other.hku. In an exchange with Horatio. "th'important acting" of the Ghost's "dread command" (108).. with the players of the central drama as audience." he commands Gertrude.com. but his carefully framed theatrical mousetrap does not bring about revenge. and some no.hk/ehost/detail?sid.ebscohost. Speak to her. Having prescribed the boundaries of Hamlet's revenge. instead. Hamlet. This visitation Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. except for Hamlet's running commentary. He seems to think that he can set right the out-of-joint world by showing it a picture of its folly. Revenge drama is enacted within revenge drama.
. the dumb show.240). Hamlet inveighs against the actor playing Lucianus. Once again.lib. But no one gets up after death--there is no applause--there is only silence and 8 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . "What means this. silence is full of meaning. The prologue. is more mystifying than illuminating: Prol. melodramatic style of The Murder of Gonzago emphasizes the differences between the framing and framed plays. and the margin of silence that surrounds it. This pantomime is evidently incomprehensible to the viewers. however. heckling the Players as an obnoxious member of the Globe audience might heckle the players of Hamlet."[n13] Hamlet also mediates between the framed dramatic text.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web.2. Of course. Having written "a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines" to be inserted in the drama (2.535).134).com. murderer. Because even as you die you know that you will come back in a different hat. Horatio. "The players cannot keep counsel: they'll tell all.eproxy1. Come. . Leave thy damnable faces and begin. the signiﬁcance of the pantomime for the play that follows could not be immediately intelligible" (117). Hamlet's role all but erases the distinction between the framing and framed plays. and having given detailed instructions for its performance. he inhabits the boundary between the dramatic world and this "world-within-a-world. (EXIT. You die a thousand casual deaths--with none of that intensity which squeezes out life . Hamlet mirrors the mediating role of the Ghost. For us and for our tragedy Here stooping to your clemency We beg your hearing patiently.2. . the telling silence of the dumb show actually reveals more of the story than does The Murder of Gonzago. and she contents herself with speculation: "Belike this show imports the argument of the play" (136).) Ham. Hamlet's reply is not illuminating.2. as Ophelia's comments suggest. And you cannot act it. as if his own choric role were the speech he has inserted into the play. Lucianus doubles both Hamlet and Claudius. He is also audience to the spectacle--a particularly intrusive audience. Still. the croaking raven cloth bellow for revenge" (246-48). watches closely for Claudius's reaction. since he is both the nephew and the murderer of the king. .hku. my lord?" she asks Hamlet as the dumb show concludes (3. but as Dieter Mehl observes. and no blood runs cold anywhere. Hamlet provides marginal commentary. Hamlet's criticism of the archaic. but his words also erase the distinction. who is tearing a passion to tatters: "Begin. for the dumb show represents both the murder and the wooing of the queen. . for murder and revenge will be conﬂated in the poisoning that Lucianus performs in the play-within-the-play. when Hamlet instructs this "murderer" to hasten the act of "revenge. but Claudius will cut their tale short. but his mediating commentary is equally unhelpful. Hamlet shapes the play-within-the-play as it is performed." his words reinforce this merging of doubles. Is this the prologue or the posy of a ring? (144-47 Hamlet takes up the role of presenter. At once inside and outside of "The Mousetrap" he frames. The Murder of Gonzago.ebscohost. "without an explanatory prologue or presenter .hk/ehost/detail?sid. leading Ophelia to remark that he is "as good as a chorus" (3.." says Hamlet during the dumb show. "HAMLET THE DANE" Guildenstern: I'm talking about death-and you've never experienced that. while Claudius interrupts the framed play at the moment of the murder.
constricting and ﬁnally strangling its language. As Claudius arrests the play-within-the-play. he has "four captains / Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage. he does not reappear at the death of the murderer and the revenger..ebscohost.249). but the closing frame is the silence of aborted speech. too. a ground that bursts into the text. and the son of Denmark now grants the forfeited lands and all Danish lands to the son of Norway in acknowledgment of his "rights of memory" (394). The opening frame of "The Mousetrap" was the silence of the dumb show. and their "thoughts black" (3. anticipating the closure of the framing play even as its own closure is forced. the murderer and the revenger. "The Mousetrap" dissolves when the murderer/revenger poisons his victim--as it must." as though the frame that borders a painting were to sink into the canvas to become the frame over which the canvas is stretched (26-29).com. All of the frames in the play undergo some transformation in the process of closure: "The Mousetrap" is violently wrenched to a premature close. who posed the military threat against Denmark at the opening of the play (5. the ﬁnal speech is forced to do double duty--duty to each of the merged doubles. has pointed ahead to the act of revenge. Denmark slew Norway long ago.lib. The visible frame of the Ghost has become. so frame meets itself here to encircle the dramatic world of Hamlet. The character of Lucianus shows us that the revenger becomes the murderer in order to enact revenge. since this ﬁgure of merged doubles is self-annihilating. The revenge scene preﬁgured by the play-within-the-play closes the outer frame.2. The ﬁnal issue was contained in the opening moment. Even as Shakespeare offers this visible frame for his play. when revenger and murderer will merge and dissolve. "The Mousetrap" compresses the crime and the revenge.hk/ehost/detail?sid. a "sinking frame. he subverts his audience's expectation of witnessing the Ghost's satisfaction at the conclusion of the tragedy. he continues to shape the 9 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 .. silence is shown once again to be a force that threatens language." the stage on which the tragedy began. The ﬁnal moments of Hamlet's play. Hamlet gives his "dying voice" to Fortinbras. His ﬁnal "remember me" and his return to whet the revenger's purpose ﬁx the vision of the play on the realization of revenge. While both the core and the outer edge of the framing conﬁguration of Hamlet are focused obsessively on the moment of revenge. some second-hand clothes. however. The Ghost. Matthews's term. are preﬁgured here.361). the son of slain Norway arrives to provide visible closure.eproxy1. When the text of The Murder of Gonzago is choked off by Claudius's outcry.2. while the Ghost is absorbed into the central action. that the revenge is ultimately a recapitulation of the crime. and that's--death--Stoppard 123) The frame that snaps shut when Claudius arises begins the process of closure for the conﬁguration of frames. in John T. If the framing Ghost of Hamlet has undergone this transformation. Fortinbras's gesture of homage to Hamlet provides another visible frame of closure. neither demonstrates the mechanical closure one might expect. Despite the Ghost's obsession with the moment of revenge.hku.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. that his voice is their chimed voices. At the moment of revenge.
" In the ﬁnal moments of the play. the speech he inscribes over the silent ﬁgure marks Hamlet's passing from the world of speech to the world beyond.1. Again the mimed story requires a presenter. Horatio directs Fortinbras. Before Horatio takes up the story. As his body is borne from the stage. but "this `spirit of revenge' also rises inside the avenger.ebscohost. the revenger will merge into the emptiness of the ground. in revenge tragedy. but it is no more illuminating than "the posy of a ring.2." he asserts as he takes his place in the dumb show. (5. mediating once again between the margin of silence that surrounds the tragedy and its text. And let me speak to th' yet unknowing world How these things came about." the dumb show provided by the Ghost. "The rest is silence. So shall you hear Of carnal. but no voice--neither Horatio's voice nor the military music summoned up by Fortinbras-can "Speak loudly for him" (5. as Claudius's double. as "Hamlet the Dane.com.eproxy1. thus at the moment of the revenge." Charles and Elaine Hallett observe. / Hamlet the Dane" (5. however. Hamlet himself signals this internalization. and Hamlet appoints Horatio to the task. bloody. Belike this speech imports the argument of the play. 10 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 .. Horatio's explanation of events is an unmistakable echo of an earlier prologue. But Hamlet has already marked his own passing." Horatio's words mark the assimilation of the Prince into the emptiness of death. is answered by another dumb show. "the rest is silence. to give order that these bodies High on stage be placed to the view. To become the revenger has meant taking on the role of murderer. a ﬁgured silence closes the frame and dissolves into the background of life resumed. As Hamlet becomes "Hamlet the Dane. Hamlet offers his ﬁnal commentary. casual slaughters. that opening frame of silence. the call to revenge is uttered by the stage ghost.lib. Typically. and the role of victim.403-05). this time in the form of slain bodies strewn across the stage. his function is transformed from providing the margin of silence surrounding Hamlet's speech to presenting the now-dumb Prince. in this upshot. But when the constriction of silence has been lifted.. and unnatural acts.382-91).2. He shares his father's name. regarding the positioning of the silent ﬁgures. he is now absorbed into the revenger and the act of revenge he prompted. When Horatio is released from his vow of silence. so that the exterior voice of persuasion is internalized (9). Of deaths put on by cunning and forc'd cause And. but he appropriates it fully only in act 5: "This is I." For the revenger to merge with murderer and victim means death. All this can I Truly deliver.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. Fortinbras adds the voices of "soldier's music and the rite of war" to mark Hamlet's "passage" across this boundary. revenge plot.hku.250-51). Of accidental judgments. purposes mistook Fall'n on th'inventor's heads.hk/ehost/detail?sid.
. There the interference which the stool-sitters created for everyone else's vision would have been rather worse. the ﬁgure.com. "Does a window form part of the inside of a building. [n8]. Felman. The latter can." in Gurr (205-51). in her survey of 11 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . the doors.ebscohost. the form. lets or makes appear in its empty enclosure: the picture. and performance practices. and the external edge of what it gives us to see. of course. in what is properly speaking its internal edge. [n9]. given the greater height of the stage. however... NOTES [n1].. the painting." Jacques Derrida points out in The Truth in Painting (61).eproxy1. [n5]. and the windows. the open roof. regularity. [n2].. moreover. [n3]. van den Berg's discussion of the "local circumstances" of the theater and "world theater" in relation to "the medieval emblem of the Christian cosmos" (49). Derrida describes this structure. buries itself. it plays its card or its cardboard between the frame. and the numbers occupying the ﬂanking galleries and standing at the sides of the stage. deﬁnite form." generally cut out of a square of cardboard and open in its "middle" to let the work appear. For particularly suggestive theoretical discussions of framing. the system of strokes [traits] and of colors. Moreover the public stages. frame characteristically "disappears.hk/ehost/detail?sid. the Ghost in Hamlet is not typical. see Derrida. See Goffman and Young. consider the obvious sites of exchange. The adult players never offered it at the open amphitheaters.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. be replaced by another which thus slides into the passe-partout as an "example". Reese does not specify that the practice of providing stools on the stage is a custom of the hall playhouses. As Eleanor Prosser points out. `shape'". and raised ﬁve or more feet above the ground. see Appendix 2. "Framing in Wuthering Heights": "Frames are meant to be forgotten" (25). see act 1 scene 5. the multiple resonances of "frame" invite an examination of the metaphorical functions of framing in this play. order. For contemporary accounts of performance conditions. lacking the rails which divided the actors from the audience in the hall playhouses. (12) [n6]. audience. or not?" (59). [n4]. While the most literal senses of the word in Hamlet should be noted. melts away at the moment it deploys its greatest energy. Matthews. The argument can be extended further.lib. and Matthews. regular procedure. (30) [n7]. "References to Playgoing. Without ceasing (that goes without saying) to space itself out." as a "supposedly virgin surface. See also John T. The OED cites this line as an example of the usage of "frame" to mean "Adapted or adjusted condition. would have seemed more precarious even without the mews and hisses of the penny-payers standing close up against the stage platform. See Kent T. effaces itself. for the walls of the theater are equally problematic boundaries between "inside" and "outside". the "passe-par/out.hku. but Andrew Gurr asserts: The practice of allowing the most important patrons to sit on the stage began with the ﬁrst boy companies probably as early as the 1570s. As Derrida asks parenthetically.
. 1980. "Turning the Screw of Interpretation. Hallett. 1982. Goffman.hk/ehost/detail?sid. Hallett.hku. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. The Revenger's Madness: A Study in Revenge Tragedy Motifs. 119-38.com. The Truth in Painting. she points out. Felperin. Toronto: U of Toronto P. or the closing masque of Antonio's Revenge. Shoshana. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Hallett observe in their introduction: The point is always made in revenge tragedy that the revenger is personally responsible for the play-within-the-play. Howard. James L. The play-within-the-play is to be the arena in which he shall accomplish his own ends. [n13]. Dickens. Princeton: Princeton UP. [n12].. Angus Calder.ebscohost. Jacques." Yet the only examples of this kind of ghost in the plays she surveys are "Andrugio in Antonio's Revenge and the Ghost in Hamlet" (262). 1987. 1977. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1974. this world-within-a-world is established by the revenger. Whether it be the Soliman and Perseda of Hieronomo.lib. Trans. The Mousetrap: Structure and Meaning in Hamlet. 1987. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Ed.eproxy1. Shoshana Felman. (10) WORKS CITED Aldus. Ed.. [n11]. To Be and Not to Be: Negation and Metadrama in Hamlet. Elizabethan revenge ghosts. Great Expectations. "The Mousetrap" of Hamlet. Gurr." Yale French Studies 55/56 (1977): 94-207. Felman. 1983.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Rpt. Hallett and Elaine S. J. Derrida. Calderwood comments on the signiﬁcance of "Horatio" in To Be and Not to Be (7). Geoff Bennington and lan McLeod. See Howard Felperin's discussion of Hamlet's role as chief virtue and preacher in this scene (49-52). 1965. New York: Columbia UP. As Charles A. [n10]. 12 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . J. 1977. Aldus also sees this scene as one of the dumb shows in Hamlet (106). Erving. P. Playgoing in Shakespeare's London. Andrew. Charles A. Calderwood. Charles. "James L. in Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Question of Reading: Otherwise. and Elaine S. "Almost all studies of the revenge play imply that the Senecan ghost who appeared to further his revenge by inciting a revenger was a conventional ﬁgure. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. P. Shakespearean Representation: Mimesis and Modernity in Elizabethan Tragedy.
Young. Hamlet. 208-44. Stevie. Eleanor. Martin's. Harold Jenkins. Stephen. However. et al. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Consulting Ed. Palmer. John's University. van den Berg. Newark: U of Delaware P. Jay L. 1966. Kenneth Muir. London and Toronto: Associated University Presses. ~~~~~~~~ By Cynthia Northcutt Malone Malone teaches English at the College of St. 1980. New York: St. London: Methuen. New York: NAL. 1961." Stratford-upon Avon Studies 1. Ed. M. 34-46. New York: Grove. Tom." Me Again: Uncollected Writings of Stevie Smith Illustrated by Herself. 1974. John T. 1960. 2nd ed." Yale Review 41 (1952): 502-23. "Framing in Wuthering Heights. Dieter. 1963. 223. The Frame Structure in Tudor and Stuart Drama. Smith. Ed. download. Copyright of College Literature is the property of College Literature and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. Kent T..com. Salzburg: U of Salzburg P. Mack. Stoppard. Shakespeare: His World and His Work. New York: St. New York: Vintage. "The Jacobean Shakespeare. Benedict/St. London: Edward Arnold. M.eproxy1. Reese.lib. in Othello. and is working on a book-length study of self-representation in Dickens's novels. 1983.. Orgel. Ed. Shakespeare.ebscohost. J. Mehl. 1969. and D. Matthews. Henry Popkin. London and Toronto: Associated University Presses. users may print.hk/ehost/detail?sid. "Shakespeare Imagines a Theater. 13 de 14 02/07/13 20:18 . By William Shakespeare. Maynard. Ed. Rev. Stephen. Alvin Kernan. Newark: U of Delaware P." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 27 (1985): 25-61. or email articles for individual use. Playhouse and Cosmos: Shakespearean Theater as Metaphor. Halio. Stanford: Stanford UP. "The World of Hamlet. Rpt. Martin's." Shakespeare: Man of the Theater. "The Royal Dane. 1971. 1982. She has published articles on Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle. Prosser. William. John Russell Brown.hku. ed.EBSCOhost: Framing in Hamlet http://web. Rosencrantz and Guildenstem Are Dead. -----. Jack Barber and William McBrien. The Elizabethan Dumb Show: The History of a Dramatic Convention. Hamlet and Revenge. 1983. 1985. Ed.