Hamlet Essay, Research Paper
A Different Version
One of Shakespeare’s great pieces of work, Hamlet, has been divided to alternate versions Quarto 1and Quarto 2. Focusing on Act I Scene iii, apparently the differences in these two versions are mainly on the way the characters are formed and the language that is used. Quarto 1 is a much more compact version that has weakly defined characters and uninformed language. As for Quarto 2 this lack of complexity is not so. This version has a higher quality of character depth and a language that is more comprehensible to allow more meaning to the play. Nonetheless the mutuality between these two versions main idea are clearly the significant mutilations to these scene are factors that make the play have a different meaning. The Quarto that would be most appealing to actors and the one that would be more fulfilling to the reader would be the second one because of it richness in characters and language.
The two versions of Hamlet create a new and different way of looking at the play. Quarto 2 has a more affective impact on a reader because of the greater depth to understanding the characters true intentions. This is first disclosed to the reader when in Quarto 2, Laertes is speaking to Ophelia about Hamlet and he says, “And sister, as the winds giue benefit/ And conuay, in assistant doe not sleep/ But let me heere from you”(463-465). This passage shows a deeper relationship between Laertes and Ophelia by expressing Laertes concern about Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet. This underlying concern is missing in Quarto 1. In Quarto 1 it reveals Laertes main intention to specifically tell Ophelia that Hamlet is not truly in love with her. This can be seen when Laertes says, “Beware Ofelia, do not trust his vowes,/ Perhaps he loues you now, and now his tongue,/ Speaks from his heart, but yet take heed my sister”(592-3, 477-8, 496). The first line of this passage is said by Polonius in Quarto 2 and it seems to be in a different tone. When Laertes is telling Ophelia that Hamlet’s love for her is not true love in Quarto 1, it is said as more of a command. Where it is said by Polonius in Quarto 2 as more of a warning later on in the play. This difference between the two have a major affect on how the character is defined in Quarto 1 Laertes is left saying these line without having any true reason to say them, where as Polonius expresses them as point to Ophelia not to embarrasses him. Leartes intentions are just straight forward and left wondering why he is saying what he is saying.
An affective image that Quarto 1 is missing is that of Hamlet and his importance in society. The lines 479-495 are important lines that express how Hamlet is of upper class and his word is important. This expresses how Hamlet is the voice of Denmark and if he says he loves someone of lower class it has to be thought of as something very special. These line help give some background of Hamlet and state the importance of Hamlet’s love. He is not a private individual but a public one that has personal importance. This is addressed to the rest of the play by giving the idea that Hamlet is of noble birth and he has the ability to avenge his father’s death quickly. This idea is missing in Quarto 1. Leartes is shown as less knowledgeable person because he just states opinions without any real evidence of why Ophelia shouldn’t talk or trust Hamlet. The Leartes in Quarto 2 can be seen as a stronger character in the sense that he wants Ophelia to be safe and this can be seen by the way he warns her. He expresses this warning by telling her, “Fear it Ophelia, feare it my deare sister,/ And keepe you in the reare of your affection” (496-497). This fear that he warns Ophelia of is the fear of great danger Hamlet is capable of hurting her, once again showing his desire to protect his sister. Another important line that uses the word fear is line 515; this line is said differently in the two versions. In Quarto 1 Laertes says, “No, feare it not my deere Ofelia,” compared to what he says in Quarto 2 which is, “O feare me not,”(515). In Quarto 1 it seems Laertes is telling Ophelia not to fear the evil of sex. It seems he is contradicted his whole speech on virginity with these few words. As for Quarto 2, he tells her not to fear him meaning, not to fear the sin that he had succumbed to. This seems to be a way for Laertes to ask for forgiveness. Quarto 1 is lacking on this more virtuous meaning of Laertes speech to Ophelia.
Polonius’ conversation with Laertes in Quarto 2 helps define his character as a father more than in Quarto1. Polonius displays his deeper desire for his son to behave when he is abroad and not to disgrace the name. In Quarto 2 an example of this more defined character of Polonius is when he says, “Looke thou character, giue thy thoughts no tongue,/ nor any vnproportion’d thought his act”(524-525). These lines reveal that Polonius is worried about his son getting into trouble while he is a way. By expressing these lines he is directly implying to look at oneself and don’t be succumbed to embarrassment. Indirectly Polonius is saying don’t disgrace me while you are away. Quarto 1 is lacking this underlying meaning of Polonius’ lines to his son. This sense of importance in Polonius’ lines can be seen again when comparing the two versions of line 546. Polonius says in Quarto 2, “Farewell, my blessing season this in thee,” here he seems to be telling Laertes not to disgrace him. The words blessing season seem to mean the honor and pride that he gave to Laertes should be thought of while he is away. Compared to Quarto 1 Polonius says, “Farewel, my blessing with thee,” which just seems to be saying good-bye and good luck. This line from Quarto 1 is missing the underlying importance that Polonius is trying to make to his son leaving his character as a less complex. Where as in Quarto 2 it has deeper meaning to why he is telling his lines and that is to prevent his status from being tainted. This is idea of Polonius’ pride in which he is out for himself and doesn’t care for others are seen throughout the whole play.
Polonius’ desire to maintain his high stature and improve it in any way even if it affects others is once again seen in his lines to Ophelia. Quarto 2 allows the character to build this sense of pride of Polonius more so then in Quarto 1. A very good example of this is in Quarto 2 Polonius says, “ “Which, are not sterling, tender your selfe more dearly/Or (not to crack the wind of the poore phrase/ Wrong it thus) you’l tender me a foole”(573-575). These lines support Polonius’ idea of maintaining his public image and not the welfare of his daughter. These lines are missing from Quarto 1 leaving Polonius stating his thought about his daughter’s relationship with no true intent other than the curiosity of Hamlet’s love. Another example of the desire to be of higher status is when Polonius says, “Set your intreatments at a higher rate/ Then a commaund to parle; for Lord Hamlet,/ Belieue so much in him that he is young”(588-590). Polonius desire to have Hamlet love his daughter can be seen is these lines. This desire is mainly based on the improvement of his stature in society. Quarto 1 does not reveal this sort of underlying passion of Polonius, allowing his character to not be formed or structured as it is in Quarto 2.
These differences in these two versions is very apparent when looking at Act I Scene iii to how the characters complexity and the language of the lines play a major role on the affect of the reader and the audience. Quarto 2 deals with these two aspects of greater character depth and intensified language that helps both readers and the audience to enjoy the play more as a whole. Some of the examples that are mentioned earlier will predict the way the rest of the play will be structured. This is clearly why Quarto 2 is a better decision for a reader and an actor because of the richness of characters and the descriptive language.