The Specter of Impunity in Operación Hamlet

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In Operación Hamlet, contemporary Chilean playwright Manuel Ortiz appropriates Shakespeare’s famous revenge tragedy to explore the complicated moral legacy faced by the children of those disappeared under the Pinochet regime. The protagonist, also named Hamlet, is urged by the ghost of his murdered father to seek retribution on his behalf after the judicial system reverses the original punishment for his killer and allows an early release from the Pento Peuco prison. Shakespeare’s assassin, King Claudius, is transformed here into Claudio Salazar of the infamous 1985 “Caso Degollados.” Ortiz interweaves lines from the original tragedy with those of a theatrical production planned by Hamlet and his friends, all of whom lost their fathers. Like the original tragedy’s play-within-a-play, The Mousetrap here will use the theatrical performance as a device to evoke guilt, pain and humiliation in Claudio as the “obra-funa” will function to “out” him and reveal his past to all those unknowingly coexisting with an assassin. By focusing on the trope of the revenge-seeking revenant, the paper will explore the ways in which the Chile’s past continues to haunt its present, especially the lives of those impacted by such reversal of sentences