31 December 2008

28. Hamlet by the lord my god William Shakespeare

Hamlet! I hadn't read this in such a long time that I almost forgot what happened. And what happens is bad.

Hamlet's dad dies, so he comes back from university to attend the funeral. Before the funeral meats are cold, his mother has remarried his uncle, his father's brother. So his uncle is actually his stepdad and his mom is his aunt.

Then one foggy night the ghost of his dad comes and tells Hamlet that he didn't just die, but that he was killed by his own brother, Claudius, the new king (Hamlet's uncle-dad). The ghost wants Hamlet to avenge his death.

Then Hamlet's girlfriend Ophelia suddenly stops talking to him (as her dad (Polonius) and brother (Laertes) request).

Hamlet has trouble completing the ghost's mandate, and this has caused the play to be interpreted solely about a man's inability to act because he thinks and thinks. But there is so much more here: Fathers: Hamlet Sr, Polonius, and even, sort of, the King of Norway gets involved; Sons: Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras; and spying (everyone seems to be spying on everyone else).

Rather than reading it, I recommend the Branagh movie version. He's such a great actor and he faithfully presents the play in all its length (4 hours). Shakespeare is meant to be seen, so see it.


Redwing said...

I should also add that I had the opportunity to teach this and my kids seemed to love it.

Olman Feelyus said...

Hamlet always bugged the crap out of me. As I have aged, I am less contempuous of an existential inability to act. But in this case, where the choice is so clear and obvious, Hamlet just comes off as a big self-involved pussy. I can't even see how it can be considered a tragedy.

Crumbolst said...

My favorite play. Yes, he's a wimp, but a spectacular one.