I keep thinking about Theresa Rebeck’s play about Sarah Bernhardt playing Hamlet. I did not much like this play but I occasionally consider a recurring idea in it wherein the character of Sarah Bernhardt is convinced Hamlet is, like, 19 and not 33 as is customarily assumed. I don’t know whether that was actually Bernhardt’s take or whether that’s Rebeck’s – but it is an interesting notion. I’m inclined to go with what the text suggests in the gravediggers scene because I’m a text junkie. But a case can be made for a teenage Hamlet. He’s at University. He’s not King. He’s not married. He’s under his parent’s thumb.
But this line leans me toward an older Hamlet. A teen might respond to this request from his mom with annoyance and frustration. He might say, “Gawd! She is so annoying. I was ALREADY going to do that! I was just SAYING that. Come on!”
But he doesn’t. He says, “She well instructs me.” – which feels like something only an older son could say.