Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Behind The Arras

Hamlet is a play about the surveillance society. Polonius is a spymaster- albeit a stupid one. He hires Reynaldo to spy on Laertes, he uses his daughter as an agent to draw Hamlet out while he and the king eavesdrop, he spies on Hamlet's interview with Gertrude. Traditionally played as a lovable, fluffy-haired, old man, he's actually a controlling bastard who richly deserves what he gets.

And then there's the King- who runs his own spies in the persons of the interchangeable opportunists, Rosencrantz and Guildernstern. 

Elizabethan/Jacobean society was fighting a War on Terror (which culminated in the discovery of the gunpowder plot) and there were spies everywhere. I think we can assume, from the treatment he metes out to them, that Shakespeare didn't like them and counted on his audience not liking them either. Hamlet kills Polonius and is responsible for the deaths of  Rosencrantz and Guildernstern and- as in a James Bond movie- I think we're meant to cheer.

We keep moving into new political territory- only to find that Shakespeare has been there ahead of us.  

Subscribe

  • Outside Jobs

    The sun came out yesterday. So I... Swept the garage, swept up the leaves that had accumulated and turned sodden in various nooks and…

  • The Days Of Our Years...

    A big party had been mooted for my 70th. It would probably have involved everyone dressing up as pirates. But then the pandemic happened. There…

  • Entering The 8th Decade

    When I was young I used to picture myself at 70 as a tweedy old scholar with leather patches on my elbows. But nobody wears leather patches any…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 19 comments

  • Outside Jobs

    The sun came out yesterday. So I... Swept the garage, swept up the leaves that had accumulated and turned sodden in various nooks and…

  • The Days Of Our Years...

    A big party had been mooted for my 70th. It would probably have involved everyone dressing up as pirates. But then the pandemic happened. There…

  • Entering The 8th Decade

    When I was young I used to picture myself at 70 as a tweedy old scholar with leather patches on my elbows. But nobody wears leather patches any…