Published in Shakespeare Studies, Volume 35, January 1, 2007, pages 105-129.
In his film adaptation of Hamlet (1996),Kenneth Branagh under scores the confessional themes present in the play by setting two scenes in a Roman Catholic confessional box. In the first scene, Polonius interrogates Ophelia about her relationship with Hamlet-an interaction that reinforces the common association of the confessional with an obsession over female sexuality. In the second scene, Hamlet listens to Claudius's penitential prayer and becomes,as Mark Thornton Burnett notes, "an unpunctual but unconsoling father confessor."l By depicting Hamlet and Claudius in the confessional box, Branagh introduces a conspicuous anachronism since the device was never used in early modem England and did not experience widespread use in Catholic countries on the Continent until the seventeenth century.
English Language and Literature