Comparisons between the movie and play Hamlet

Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet was originally written as a play, but as time has passed it has been produced, on many different occasions, as a motion picture. The two forms share many similar scenes throughout the work. Three of these scenes are Hamlet's encounter with his father's ghost, Hamlet's killing of Polonius, and Hamlet's final battle with Laretes.

The first major similarity between the play and the movie comes when Hamlet sees and talks with the ghost of his recently murdered father. In lines ten through thirteen the ghost exclaims to Hamlet, «Doomed for a certain term to walk the night and for the day confined to fast in fires till the foul crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purged away.» Likewise in the movie, this emotion fills Hamlet's mind with both sorrow and hatred for his uncle. «Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.» (lines 30-33) The ghost makes an emotional plea for Hamlet to revenge against Claudius. Hamlet replies with a promise to his father's ghost, «Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love may sweep to my revenge.»

Another major comparison between the movie and the play comes when Hamlet goes to confront his mother about her involvement in his father's death and ends up killing Polonius. Gertrude, feeling Hamlet's disgust for her actions, fears that he might murder her. As seen in lines 22-33 of Act III scene IV she calls for the help of the hidden Polonius. «What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me? Help, ho!» In the movie Gertrude has an extremely worried expression on her face and as she calls for help there is motion behind a giant tapestry. This enrages Hamlet even more because someone has overheard his suspicions. «How now? A rat? Dead for ducat, dead!» (line 25) Hamlet angrily walks to the tapestry and surges his sword into a precise spot fatally wounding Polonius. «O, I am slain.» (line 26) Similar to the play, in the movie the death of Polonius is shown as Hamlet removes his sword from the tapestry and loud crash is heard as his body crumbles to the floor.

The final major comparison between the movie and the play comes at the end. A contest has been scheduled between Laretes and Hamlet, but Claudius and Laretes both have ulterior motives. The two are conspiring to kill Hamlet without his knowledge. «Come for the third battle, you do but dally. I pray you, pass your best violence.» (Lines 300-301) In both the movie and the play Hamlet wins the first two rounds and in the movie he shows a cocky attitude towards Laretes when beckoning him for the third round. « Say you so? Come on.» (line 303) Also in the movie Laretes is confidant and eager to begin. Claudius and Laretes's plans backfire and end up causing their own deaths. Tragically Hamlet has also been dealt a mortal blow. «O, I die, Horatio! The potent poison quite o'ercrows my spirit.» (Line 354)

Many comparisons can be made between the play and movie versions of Hamlet. Three of these scenes are Hamlet's encounter with his father's ghost, Hamlet's killing of Polonius, and Hamlet's final battle with Laretes. All of these scenes are prime examples of the relationship between the play and the movie.

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