Artistically Hamlet

This piece of art below is called Hamlet created by Mihály Zichy in the second half of the 19th century. He used pencil and tempera on paper, and this piece is currently in a private collection.


This piece of artwork depicts the scene where Hamlet interacts with the ghost in front of Gertrude which causes Gertrude to believe that this is part of Hamlet becoming crazy. This painting represents the passage in Act III Scene IV.

O, speak to me no more!
These words like daggers enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet.
A murderer and a villain,
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings,
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket—

GERTRUDE                                                                                                                                              No more!

A king of shreds and patches—
Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious figure?
Oh, angels in heaven, protect me with your wings!—What can I do for you, my gracious lord?

Alas, he’s mad!

Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command?
O, say!

Do not forget. This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But look, amazement on thy mother sits.
O, step between her and her fighting soul.
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
Speak to her, Hamlet.

How is it with you, lady?

Alas, how is ’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Starts up and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?

On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable.
(to GHOST) Do not look upon me,
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects. Then what I have to do
Will want true color—tears perchance for blood.

To whom do you speak this?

Do you see nothing there?

Nothing at all, yet all that is I see.

Nor did you nothing hear?

No, nothing but ourselves.

Why, look you there! Look how it steals away—
My father, in his habit as he lived—
Look where he goes, even now, out at the portal!

The author highlights Hamlet pointing out the ghost with a crazed look on his face. One may choose to believe that the author is interpreting the ghost as part of Hamlet’s insanity. On the other hand, in the picture, Gertrude purposefully bows her head down, looking away from the ghost, as if she wants to hide from it. I like how the artist depicts the king in an almost godly manner with white sweeping robes illuminating and a crown upon his head. Alos, we can see Polonius’s head below the chair by Hamlet. I thought it was interesting how the artist incorporated specific details in some components of the piece, but left mere outlines with his pencil in other portions.


4 thoughts on “Artistically Hamlet

  1. frogcrazy says:

    The painting I used for this topic was regarding the same part of Hamlet as your’s!! However, the two paintings seem to deliver an extremely different tone. Both of ours seemed to follow the scene closely (Polonius lies dead and the ghost closely resembles someone of a kingly stature), however, yours has a lighter color scheme overall and Gertrude’s reaction is more frightened than utterly confused. It took me a little while upon seeing your post to recognize that the painting you picked was from the same scene I picked. Upon considering this a little more, it is fascinating that such different paintings can be accurate and can still reveal such different messages.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s