WHY I REJECT BRECHT’S THEORY. I also found Brecht’s theory attractive because I thought it was fun to think of Shakespeare—and, in Brecht’s thinking, the actors—struggling with writing a play about a prince who was struggling with what he should do.
However, when I came across the essay again, I couldn’t make it work. Brecht thinks the fourth act was made up of a set of possible solutions to how to bring Hamlet to what Brecht calls the “final ranting bloodbath” which ends the play. When I look at the fourth act with Brecht’s question in mind, I see that each scene is preparing for the “final ranting bloodbath”. Hamlet drags Polonius off, Hamlet rebuffs Rosencrantz and Guilderstern, the King plots Hamlet’s killing, Fortinbras arrives with his army, Ophelia goes mad and dies, Laertes returns and plots with the King—all ratcheting up the emotions for the bloodbath and multiplying, for a first-time audience member, the possible outcomes of the final scene, with three characters trying to kill. I wonder which of those “solutions” from the fourth act Brecht would have eliminated.