Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hamlet Part 2: Better Late Than Never

Welcome back to Tuesday! It's lovely to see you all again. Or it would be, if this were a live discussion where I could actually see your lovely faces and not a one-sided virtual love-fest of
Nothing goes together better than Shakespeare and Hiddleston.
Shakespeare and sarcasm where I basically talk to myself. Anyway, on to the text!

Act 1 Scene 3

Laertes is having a conversation with his sister, Ophelia. Apparently, Ophelia has been seen carrying on with Hamlet. He asks her to stop seeing Hamlet because he (Laertes) is leaving. He tells her the Hamlet might love her, but he really only wants one thing. He tells Ophelia that it's not worth risking her honor over him, so she should just knock it off. Ophelia then tells him to not be a hypocrite and protect his virtue, too, because it would be really shitty of him to tell her to not get laid while he is doing whomever he likes. You tell 'em, Ophelia.

At this point, their father, Polonius, enters. He asks why Laertes is still hanging around. He asks in a nice way, he's not just being a dick. He's not Claudius, after all. Polonius gives Laertes some advice to take with him back to France. He tells Laertes a bunch of stuff that is pretty solid - listen and don't speak, be friendly but not common, don't lend or borrow. Most importantly he tells Laertes "to thine own self be true," which should sound familiar. It's also fantastic advice. Laertes then reminds Ophelia what he said, she reminds him what she told him, and Laertes exits.

Polonius is naturally curious as to what his two children were talking about. When she tells him they were talking about Hamlet, Polonius has a bunch to say. Polonius starts telling Ophelia that she doesn't know she doesn't know herself very well and asks what her relationship to Hamlet is. She tells him that Hamlet has told her that he has feeling for her. Polonius asks if she believes him. She doesn't know. Polonius says he will teach her. Because why not be a dick? Apparently he can only be respectful of one kid. He says that she shouldn't sleep with him because it would tarnish her honor and, more importantly, his own. Ophelia then basically says, "but daddy, he loves me!" Polonius again states that she shouldn't believe what he says and that she shouldn't even talk to him. Ophelia says she will obey and they leave the stage.

Act 1 Scene 4

Hamlet is back in action with Horatio and Marcellus. They have returned to the place where the ghost appears nightly. It's about Midnight. They talk about King Claudius and how he's a general asswipe for a while until the ghost appears. Hamlet recognizes the ghost as his father, King Hamlet. He asks the ghost why he is there. "Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell/Why thy connonized bones, hearsed in death,/have burst from their cerements" is a very eloquent way of asking 'how are you not dead right now?" The ghost beacons for Hamlet to follow him. Horatio and Marcellus try to keep Hamlet from following the ghost. They attempt to reason with him and when that doesn't work, they physically restrain him. Hamlet then says that "I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!" Basically he tells them, "if you stop me, I will kill you," so they let him follow the ghost. They talk about what they should do next and what this might mean. They don't know but, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." They then follow Hamlet and the ghost off stage. At least they didn't try to stab the ghost this time. That was embarrassing for everyone.

Act 1 Scene 5

Hamlet and the Ghost of King Hamlet are talking. Ghost King Hamlet tells alive Hamlet that alive Hamlet will want revenge when Ghost King Hamlet tells him his story. This would be much less confusing if Shakespeare would have given them different names. From now on, Ghost King Hamlet will just be called the ghost. Sound good? Great. Okay, where were we? Right. The Ghost tells Hamlet that he is, indeed, the ghost of the dead king and that he is doomed to walk this path at night and be in hell during the day until his death is avenged. He tells Hamlet that he can't tell Hamlet the whole story and all of the details because he is forbidden to, and also because it's shocking and terrible. In writing classes, professors like to call this Telling. You're supposed to Show, not Tell when you write. Telling is considered bad writing. But here it is, in Shakespeare. So, bad story telling, my ass! If Shakespeare can do it, so can I. I keep getting distracted. Sorry.

The ghost tells Hamlet that he was murdered and that Hamlet must seek revenge. He calls it "murder most foul," meaning is was he brother wot done it. The ghost goes on to tell that the official story of his death (that he was bitten by a snake while he slept) is a lie. "The serpent the did sting thy father's life/now wears his crown." That line is so fucking cool.

Hamlet takes this opportunity to tell the ghost the he totally called that. The ghost goes on to say exactly how he was murdered. He was sleeping in the orchard, as was his afternoon custom, when his
That's a weird death, even by Shakespearean standards.
brother sneaked up on him and poured poison in his ear. He tells Hamlet to not let all of this business taint his feelings toward the Queen, because it wasn't her fault that Claudius is a murderous dick. The ghost then exits. Hamlet completely ignores the last bit about not blaming the Queen and blames the Queen for all of it. Hamlet has a very bleak view on women.

Horatio and Marcellus now reenter the stage. They ask what Hamlet and the ghost talked about but Hamlet won't tell them because he thinks they will spill the beans to everyone. They say they won't, so Hamlet tells them everything. Hamlet will, apparently, believe anything. After he is done telling them, he makes them swear by his sword to not tell a soul. He makes them swear three times in three different spots, which is called a triple oath and has particular force for them. If this is confusing, you are not alone. I don't get it and neither doesn't Horatio. He calls it strange, to which Hamlet responds. "And therefore as a stranger give it welcome/There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet never misses an opportunity to mock his friends.  I like that about him. Anyway, they swear and be done with it. Hamlet reminds them to keep their damn mouths shut and they all exit the stage together.


The one thing I want to discuss off the bat is Hamlet's view of women. The only woman we have actually seen him interact with thus far is his mother, Queen Gertrude. We also only see his feeling about her thus far, and they are not pretty. Hamlet puts the blame for his father's death squarely on his mother's shoulders, despite the evidence related by the ghost which says that she had nothing to do with it. Hamlet wants to blame his mother. He blames Claudius as well, but he is so focused on his mother being the culprit that he won't accept that maybe she isn't. Pair this with the conversation Laertes, Polonius, and Ophelia have and you begin to see a very interesting picture of the way Hamlet relates to women. From the family conversation, we can glean that Hamlet is known for behaving the way the men think he is behaving toward Ophelia. Otherwise, they would not speak this way about the prince. This all adds up to one thing that becomes increasingly obvious as the play goes on (spoiler alert for a 400-year-old play): Hamlet has no respect for women. The way he behaves with his mother and Ophelia show that he hates women. He says some really nasty things about the nature of women throughout the play. In fact, he has already. In Act 1 Scene 2, he says, "Frailty, thy name is/woman!" which is the nicest thing he has to say about women. Throughout the play, we will see this mistrust and hatred grow and fester. But the end of the play, his woman hating will have a body count. We'll check back in to this conversation when this happens and draw conclusion then.

Okay, kids. That's going to be it for the week. I'll check back in Tuesday with another thrilling update.

Until next time, Happy Reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment