"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hamlet, Richard III, The Hustler

Many critics have discussed the motivation of Lady Anne who, despite the  fact that Richard III has murdered her husband and his father, decides to marry him and be his queen.
Some have felt that she was in fact seduced by him; for as we know Shakespeare portrays him (as well as other characters in other plays) as eloquently persuasive; and as he played by Olivier and McKellan especially, powerfully, insinuatingly, seductive. 

Others have felt that she, after the deaths in her family, was looking for a protector.  She was ambitious (like I think Gertrude was) and would willingly overlook her new husband’s misbehavior to become queen.  Others still have said that she was purely and simply afraid of Richard, for very good reason.
A third view is that she had looked at the world, seen corruption and evil(“the horror, the horror”), given its worst expression in Richard; and simply capitulated to it in an act of debasement and total degradation.
I had always wondered why the Piper Laurie character in The Hustler gives herself to the George C. Scott charactera similar embodiment of evil. I now think it was for the same reason – self-abasement and –degradations, going the the depths, the bottom of a personal and existential despair.
I am now further convinced after reading L.C. Knights’ criticism of Hamlet in which he says:
Hamlet’s question, the question that he is continually asking himself, is How can I live? What shall I do to rid myself of this numbing sense of meaninglessness brought about by the knowledge of corruption?
He debates suicide (like the Piper Laurie character who actually commits it).
In a way, Ophelia in her madness and ultimate suicide, is also fleeing not so much the evil and corruption in the world, but certainly the breaking of her illusions about Hamlet.

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