CR Episode 196: Hamlet, Act IV

Ophelia, by John Everett Millais
Ophelia, by John Everett Millais

Download Link: Released on 9 October 2023

The panel discusses seven scenes, with attention to Ophelia’s innocence and madness, Laertes’ hot-blooded response to the death of his father, Claudius’ failure to demonstrate the wisdom and prudence of a good king, and Hamlet’s apparent inscrutability.


  1. A few busy weeks here and been walking, cooking etc every time I listen and an hour later my thoughts and questions are gone.

    So I wanted to at least make sure I comment and say thank you so much for doing Hamlet! It’s been incredible reading along and having your discussion giving depth to it.

    Something I thought about earlier today is there’s probably something new here to discover with every new readthrough. I wondered if there was anything that stood out in particular this time?

  2. Disa is so right – there is so much to discover in a Shakespeare play.

    One of the new things I learned in this reading/listening was that Shakespeare was so brilliant that he used the rhythm of iambic pentameter (da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM . . .) to show how in sync two characters are by having it flow between them. There are several examples as Claudius and Laertes plot how to kill Hamlet –

    My lord, I will be ruled;
    The rather, if you could devise it so
    That I might be the organ.
    da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da

    It falls right.
    DUM da-DUM

    Additional phrases that end the other’s iambic pentameter are “I will do’t”, “So you shall”, and “Let this be so”.

    This brings to my mind Captain Kirk’s “Engage” (da-DUM) and Captain Picard’s “Make it so” (DUM-da-DUM) orders, which could be the end of a line of iambic pentameter. They are both Shakespearian actors – do you think they had iambic pentameter in mind?

    A second new thing that I learned was how much flexibility there is in interpreting the text.

    For example, the way the scene between Ophelia and Hamlet is staged makes me feel so sorry for her.

    If there was a contest for the worst boyfriend of all time, who would win – Hamlet or Victor Frankenstein?

    I watched the 2018 movie “Ophelia” starring Daisy Ridley hoping that it would provide her with a better ending. Ophelia survives, but Shakespeare’s plot and beautiful language do not.

    The one thing I did like about the movie was that they staged the scene between Hamlet and Ophelia by having her whisper to him that they are being spied upon. Thus, they both know that what they are saying is made up for Claudius and Polonius. It is still tragic to have your boyfriend murder your father, but at least she didn’t have to endure Hamlet being so cruel to her.

    O< O< O<


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