Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Quick note--photos are not my strong point. Taking them, editing them, figuring out how to incorporate them into the ol' blog...not really my thing. And I don't like the idea of randomly stealing other people's photos. But I finally had to admit to myself that everyone (including me) likes blogs better when they have lots of pictures. So I made this beautiful picture for you guys. Well, it's not that beautiful, but hey. I took it and edited it and I even put my website on the bottom and I feel very cool. (And if you want to use it, feel free. I know, I'm so generous.) 

But anyway. Let's talk Hamlet. 

Hamlet is one of those great literary works that left me so utterly wowed that I almost can't say anything about it. The long list of literary things we could talk about is just far too overwhelming (and has already been done by people far more intelligent and educated than I), so I'll just share my emotional reaction with you. 

I'm pretty sure I'd seen an adaptation of Hamlet or something before I read it this time, but I remembered very little about it, so it was almost like I was reading it for the first time. As I read, I watched an adaptation (one that was rather poorly done in my opinion, but was the only version my library had). 

From the very beginning, I criticized the actor who played Hamlet, because I didn't think he understood the character. Yeah--I remembered next to nothing about this play, I had barely seen the character of Hamlet at all, and I already felt like I knew him. Hamlet is an erratic, emotional, crazy character, and yet I had no trouble identifying with him. While I was reading the play, Hamlet felt like me. Which is kind of scary to think about. 

There are no characters in this play that win. (Sorry if I spoiled it for you.) Nobody comes out on top. Most people end up dead. The play carries with it a horrible feeling of desperation and hopelessness. You wouldn't think people would be so interested in it. And yet, it's the feeling of desperation that we all have. Does my life matter? Am I ever in control? Can I change my fate? Who can I trust? These are the questions the characters ask, and although our lives may not be quite as tragic, they're the questions we ask, too. 

That's my take on Hamlet--and I know there are a million more. What do you think? 


  1. I think I want to know which version you watched!

    I also feel like Hamlet is me -- it's crazy and scary, but it's also what's so genius about the play. I also love Laertes and Horatio and find aspects of myself in them, which makes sense since they're two of Hamlet's foils. It's kind of like all three of them are my foils, in a way.

    Okay, I'm probably making little sense. I'm so glad you dug it!

    1. It was the one with Patrick Stewart as Claudius. I would be interested to look into the characters of Laertes and Horatio more.

      I also saw part of the Mel Gibson version, and I liked that one better, but I was so mad at the end that they took out the one line! About how Hamlet wanted to give what's-his-name his vote... (Yeah, I need to go back and read this play again. :P)

    2. The modernized version with David Tenant as Hamlet, or the hose-and-doublets version with Derek Jacobi as Hamlet? They both have Patrick Stewart as Claudius.

      Nearly every version cuts out vast chunks of the play -- the only readily findable one that uses the full text is Kenneth Branagh's, which is magnificent (I'm tempted to ask you to send me your address so I can send you a copy. Interested?). But, of course, it's also 4+ hours long. There are certain lines that I love that almost never appear in other versions, lol.

      (Oh, what's-his-name = Fortinbras.)

    3. Hose-and-doublets. David Tennant sounds like he would be an interesting Hamlet... I would love to see the Kenneth Branagh version, and I'm so touched you would offer, but I'm reluctant to let you go to the trouble! (The longer, the better, I say, when you have a story that wonderful.)

      Right, Fortinbras. I don't know exactly why I'm so obsessed with that line when I'm really no Hamlet expert...but I just love that he dies that way.

    4. Oh no, I find it totally normal to fall for a completely random line in this play. Any performance that doesn't have Laertes say, "To cut his throat in a church" disappoints me. If Claudius' prayer scene isn't included, I get really mad. Etc.

      But anyway, I shall here confess that I have never managed to watch all of that particular version! I've tried it twice and given up on it. Which makes me annoyed at myself, as Jacobi is reportedly really awesome in the role, but I just can't seem to get into that version. Will have to try again.

      And sending you Branagh's Hamlet would not be any trouble -- Amazon has it for $10 right now, so I'd just have them ship it to you :-D Or the Mel Gibson version, which I dearly love -- that's only $5 right now (but it cuts Fortinbras out almost entirely). My email is if you're interested. I love to share the Hamlet love.

    5. Oh, but I forgot to say that the David Tennant/Patrick Stewart version is amazing! Has one of my favorite Horatios ever, and I'm picky about Horatio.

    6. I love the church-throat-cutting line, too! I can't imagine why anyone would want to leave it out. (But I guess they have to leave out SOMEthing...) I didn't really love that version either. Maybe I'll appreciate Jacobi's performance more after I see other versions, but he was just so unlike the Hamlet in my mind. Just too over-the-top for me. I can see why he played Hamlet that way, but I didn't like it. And admittedly...I watched the last half or so in fast-forward (where they all talk super fast). Yep. Pretty terrible. But at least I finished it... :P

      I sent you an email. :D

    7. Well, you're one up on me, then, as I've never gotten more than about an hour through it.