Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Casting a character: "La llorona" vs.Hamlet

The play “The Tragedy of Prince Hamlet” by Shakespeare includes a variety of complex characters. The plot of this play helps the characters develop a lunatic and compulsive personality which makes this play so engaging. Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius and the woman Hamlet is “madly” in love for, is an example of a complex character. Her personality is confusing; she creates this innocent appearance but has a hidden dark side.

As the director of the play, I choose to compare Ophelia with the Hispanic legend because they both display innocence in their disturbing life. In my version of the play, I will use one of the theories mentioned before: Ophelia having an affair with King Claudius making it impossible to have a real relationship with Hamlet, and at the end, Ophelia realizes that Claudius will never be with her and drowns herself. In my version, I want to portray the same exact thing. There are not many changes I would like to make since I like the way Shakespeare leaves it up to the reader’s perspective to see each character as they would like. My version contains minor changes. La llorona is remembered as a lonely soul wondering around for the tragedy that happened in her life: the death of her children (whom she murdered). Ophelia, as well, wonders around with many hidden emotions. Both of these characters develop an outstanding and interesting persona; portraying innocence with their white fluffy outfits, using their crying and singing as a way to pretend they are the victims, and using their simple beauty to captivate those around them.

When reading Hamlet, Ophelia’s character appears to be a young lady with manners and well-educated: “I shall obey, my lord” (1:3:136). She listens to her father and tries to maintain a certain posture. Her obedience reflects innocence, making the reader compare her to an angel, who wears mostly white, fluffy dresses, giving her space to move more freely. My purpose to portray Ophelia as a white-looking angel is to demonstrate evilness. Those around her believe she would not do any harm but as the play continues, hidden messages appear through out her personality and her actions. This evilness and innocence compares to the image of La Llorona. Her white dress with various layers are used to hide her dark side and the sins she committed.

Beauty is another major factor that covers up Ophelia’s mysterious side. The reader gets a hint that Ophelia must be a beautiful woman in order for Hamlet to be so crazy for her: “To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most beautified/ Ophelia” (2:2:109-110) as Hamlet states in one of the letters he sent to Ophelia. Throughout time, women, beautiful women to be more specific, have always had the choice to manipulate men with their beauty. And this case is not an exception. The real purpose for Ophelia to manipulate Hamlet is not yet certain, there are many theories that the readers can obtain, but one thing is for sure, Ophelia is not the person she seems to be. The innocence her beauty displays causes others to trust her.

A good manipulate technique used by both La llorona and Ophelia are their crying and their singing. La Llorona cries for her children, the ones she killed her self. She wonders around at night asking “where her children are?” begging for the return of her children. By her crying, it makes those who hear her feel sympathetic for her tragedy. As for Ophelia, after finding out about her father’s death, she instantly changed from being a calm woman into a crazy neurotic woman. “He is dead and gone, lady, / He is dead and gone, / At his head a grass-green turf, / At his heels a stone” (4:5:29-32). Ophelia begins to say or sing irrational things that cause others believe she is gone crazy. In my version of the play, Ophelia is using her father’s death as an escape to get closer to the King and have a legitimate excuse to stay away from Hamlet. Her crying makes her brother Laertes wanting to take revenge on Hamlet for his father’s death and his sister’s craziness. If we continue to follow my idea of the King and Ophelia’s affair, this is quite important to continue with their hidden relationship. Ophelia wants to get rid off as many people around them in order for her affair to one day become a public and official relationship.

To prove more my point of King Claudius and Ophelia’s affair, another song sang by Ophelia demonstrates their secret; “Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me, / You promis’d me to wed” (4:3:62-63) and Claudius responds “So would I ‘a’ done, by yonder sun, / And thou hadst not come to my bed” (4:3:64-65). With this duet, it is clear that something must have happened between them two. But now Claudius is somehow telling Ophelia that she is nothing more than just a one night accident. Keeping this in mind, Ophelia’s reaction is not surprising, having her heartbroken and feeling completely betrayed, Ophelia took the choice to commit suicide: “Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes” (4:7:164). The time for Ophelia’s death could have not been better for Claudius. She was a threat to his throne, and the purpose of her death was explained by the lost of her father.

Following with La Llorona’s plot, the similar incident occurred to Ophelia. La Llorona decided to end with her children lives right after they were born because the father of her children left her after he found out she was pregnant. This caused her to kill her babies and then drowned her self. As for Ophelia, her heart was devastated and could not handle the thought of being betrayed by the man who she was willing to leave everything behind.

The period of time of the play will most likely be the 21st century. I would like to see the play be act by the young generation since this century is causing an immense controversy in history. My version consists of taking part of the legend of La Llorona and continues with Shakespeare style of delivering the lines. My version contains a lot of drama and love triangles. It relates to the daily routines most people live now days. Young beautiful women falling into the arms of old married men, who at the end will leave them after obtaining what they wanted.

In overall, as a Director, I only changed the plot of the play. I took the lines Shakespeare used but made it my own with a different message: what goes around comes around. Instead of Hamlet being the main character, I focused more on Ophelia and her innocence covering her dark side. Ophelia played with Hamlet’s feelings and betrayed the trust of those around her, mainly the Queen’s, Gertrude. And for this, she paid with her life. The white fluffy outfit symbolizes virginity and innocence which is the opposite of what Ophelia really is but makes the play interesting. Her beauty is the factor that manipulates men and makes them fall in love. Beauty is her key to obtain what she wants. And last but not least, her singing revealed the truth of her emotions and the tragedy that was about to occurred: suicide.

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