Here’s another one of those teeny details that I enjoy exploring. When we first see Hamlet he’s traditionally dressed in black, in support of this exchange with his mother:
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Ay, madam, it is common.
If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?
Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not ‘seems.’
‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected ‘havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
Maybe I’m painting this with too broad a stroke but I’ve always taken this to mean that everybody else is done with the mourning period, that only Hamlet is still wearing black, and his mother would like him to be happy again.
My question is this — does he simply wear black throughout the rest of the play and nothing is said of it again? A reasonable period of time passes, does it not? When he gets back from England, he’s still mourning? Or maybe after he’s seen the ghost and has now gone into his antic disposition, he changes his clothes? Signifying, at least to his parents, that he’s no longer obsessed with his father?
Assuming for the moment that that’s not true, and that he spends the whole play in black. How would it change his character if, at some point in the play, you put him in some other color? Where would you do it?
Idea – right after the play within a play, where Claudius guilt is shown, and Hamlet is whooping it up with Horatio that his plan worked, maybe there’s an opportunity for him to grab a random scarf or other bit of cloth discarded by one of the players, and wrap it around himself. Just a glimpse, while he’s talking to Horatio. Then, when R&G and Polonius show up, he drops it again. There’s me being a director for you. 🙂