Thursday, 20 February 2014
I promise, this’ll be the last Shakespeare for now.
I doubt that I will have to explain much about this book – it’s one that everyone (I know) has already read, for school or for pleasure. Reading it for the second time felt comfortable.
You might remember that I wrote about Shakespeare’s plays that he usually focuses on one emotion; and here it’s betrayal. Hamlet’s uncle kills the king and marries his wife to boot, and although Hamlet is clearly upset about that and is looking for revenge, he rather speaks in riddles like a madman than to take action and actually kill the sonnuvabitch. It’s only toward the very end that he stabs his uncle – but the king pretty much shoved the sword in his hand. And Shakespeare probably did that because what’s a Shakespeare tragedy without at least three deaths in the last five pages?
(I still love his words though.)
The true puzzling character for me in this play is Ophelia. She’s confusing, and seems confused as well as she tries to be obedient to her brother’s and father’s will, who are both reluctant to let her open her heart to Hamlet. She never seems to have an opinion of her own until her father dies; then she is so uncontrollably stricken with grief that no good advice reaches her, until at last – a scene often painted – she falls in the river and drowns. I can never quite figure out if she loved Hamlet, or what her thoughts were about the other characters. She seems quite empty indeed, until the death of her father.
If you haven’t read this play, I suggest you do it, even though Shakespeare might not be your thing. Even if it’s just so you won’t quote the “To be or not to be” scene whilst pretending to hold a skull. Those are two completely different scenes; and the right quote would be “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.” (just in case you want to wet some literature students’ panties)
Until next time,