A Library of literature InterestingnessSaturday, November 6, 2021

In the step in question, action 3 step 2, the players or gibbs visiting the castle of Elsinore in Denmark placed on a play because that the royal court. In ~ Hamlet’s request, lock agree to do a pat he self has provided them, The killing of Gonzago, although Hamlet speak Claudius (the King, and also Hamlet’s very own uncle) that it’s referred to as ‘The Mousetrap’. Agatha Christie, that course, obtained that alternative title for she play which began running in 1952 and also is still being performed in London to this day, making that the longest-running play in theatre history.

You are watching: Doth the lady protest too much

Anyway, Hamlet – who suspects the his uncle murdered his father, Old Hamlet, by pouring poison into his ear while he to be asleep – hopes that by staging a pat which recreates his father’s killing he will awaken Claudius’ guilt, and also the King will certainly reveal, v his response, that he is guilty of murdering Old Hamlet. Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, who has hastily remarried come Claudius following Old Hamlet’s death, is additionally in the audience too.


One of the reasons the line may have become so famous – albeit v the word-order often slightly transformed – is the the actor playing Gertrude deserve to ‘read’ the line in a number of different ways. Together Ann Thompson and also Neil Taylor watch in their keep in mind to this heat in Hamlet: amendment Edition (The Arden Shakespeare 3rd Series)

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, ‘The lady doth protest also much, methinks’ have the right to be uttered in together a means as come highlight, variously, Gertrude’s uncomfortable (she senses the the play she’s watching has cut too close to the bone), her technique (she is identified to safeguard her own actions in remarrying come Claudius so soon after Old Hamlet’s death), or her innocence (she hasn’t also noticed the parallel her son is trying to draw in between the Queen on the stage and herself).

But there’s something an ext here. For, together the editor of another edition that the play, the brand-new Penguin edition provided by the RSC, has highlighted, the word ‘protest’ she doesn’t simply mean ‘deny’. It method to promise publicly. So, in various other words, Gertrude is berating the Player Queen on stage for make a decision promise around something she may well finish up law if she found herself a widow one day.

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Oliver Tearle is the author of The an enig Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey through Curiosities the History

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, available now from Michael O’Mara Books.