The anonymous Lord appears in Scene 20, to convey Claudius's impatience for the Fencing Match to begin.
The role of the Lord is often omitted in Hamlet performances, since companies aren't usually able to perform the play at full length, but the role is significant in the following ways.
- He shows how a courtier ought to behave toward the Prince. He states his business briefly, and does not waste a lot of the Prince's time, the way Ostrick did.
- He underscores Claudius's impatience for the Fencing Match, which is odd, since Claudius has never displayed any particular interest in fencing, and Hamlet knows that. We know this about Claudius from what he says to Laertes in Scene 18. Hamlet knows his uncle well enough to know his major interests, and fencing isn't among them. Claudius's impatience, for fencing, is a significant part of what raises Hamlet's misgivings, as he tells Horatio. Hamlet knows it's out of character for Claudius.
- The Lord provides an audience reminder of Gertrude, to help sustain awareness of her, going into the Fencing Match.
It's easy, then, to see why Shakespeare included the Lord.
In casting, he should be a mature, dignified man, who looks like a respected King's courtier.
- Costume - courtier. He is a nobleman, and must be well dressed, although in a relatively conservative style, not as flashy and tasteless as Ostrick.
None. He is anonymous. I have not found a way to infer a proper name for him. He is apparently representative of a type, the well-mannered and dignified type of courtier.
- Scene 20#189 The Queen desires you to use some gentle entertainment (to Laertes) - motivates Hamlet's speech to Laertes at the start of the Fencing Match passage, and provides an audience reminder of Gertrude, whose presence at the Match will be crucial in the flow of events.
Themes and Motifs
Those most significant to the Lord's role:
He's doing his duty for the King, although it's a simple "errand boy" kind of assignment that he may not like.
The Lord appears in Scene 20 only, as a speaking part. He may be present, silently, among the courtiers earlier, especially in Scene 2, which is Claudius's first session of the royal court as the new King, and where everyone who's anyone will want to be present.
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