Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hamlet Part 4: Hamlet is a Dick to Everyone About Everything

Soft, what update from yonder browser breaks. I have returned with more Shakespeare! Huzzah. Also, I know that paraphrase is from Romeo and Juliet, arguably the worst Shakespeare play around, but I couldn't resist. Anyway, on to the text!

Act 3 Scene 1

When we last checked in (which, I know, was roughly 6 years ago, sorry), everyone was coming up with cunning plans to trick one another into revealing things. Hamlet wanted Claudius to admit to killing his father and Claudius wanted to know what the fuck was up with Hamlet losing his damn mind. This scene begins with a return to the plan that Claudius put forth. He is discussing Hamlet's state of mind with the Queen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Polonius and Ophelia are also there, but they don't chime in for a bit. R + G (as they will be called from now on because those names are a bitch to type out) report to Claudius that Hamlet considers himself distracted, but won't say by what he is distracted. They tell Claudius and Gertrude about Hamlet's play, but not the intentions behind it. Claudius and Gertrude tell R + G to encourage Hamlet with the play. R + G say they will and leave. Claudius then asks Gertrude to leave as well, so that he and Polonius can get down to the business of ticking Hamlet into admitting that he is in love with Ophelia or some shit. They are still laboring under the impression that Hamlet's lunacy is due to his affections for Ophelia and not due to the fact that Claudius murdered his father and married his mother, which was related to him by the ghost of his dead father. The more of this play I read, the more I am convinced that Hamlet's madness is justified. Polonius then tells Ophelia to pretend she is reading and then he and Claudius hide like fucking 4-year-olds. I picture them hiding behind curtains snickering with their feet clearly visible underneath. Or maybe I'm just imagining Hamlet if it were a Python sketch.

At this point, we are presented with the world famous 'to be or not to be' soliloquy. It is beautiful and
deep and all that. Mostly, it's about Hamlet deciding whether or not he should commit suicide. He goes over why he would (because life is generally shitty) and also why people tend to not kill themselves. The crux of his argument is this: People don't commit suicide because they don't know what is waiting for them on the other side. He concludes, "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all," meaning that he won't kill himself because he doesn't know what will happen to him in the afterlife. Although, as someone who has seen and spoken to a ghost, wouldn't he have at least an idea of what the afterlife is like? 
Here, Hamlet randomly notices Ophelia. He imparts her to pray for him. They make small talk and Ophelia attempts to give him some tokens that he had given to her. He refuses them, saying that he never gave them to her. Ophelia tells him that he knows damn good and well that he did, and that he told her he loved her. She then forces him to take the tokens. Ophelia is having none of his shit right now. Hamlet, ever the asshat, then asks Ophelia if she is "honest," meaning chaste. He literally asks her if she is a virgin. Apparently, straight white boys never change. She asks him just what the fuck he is on about and he says that her beauty means that she will not be "honest" long and that he did love her once. She confirms that he made her believe that he loved her. Hamlet says that she shouldn't have believed him because he never loved her. What a fucking asshole. I mean, really. What a dick. He tells Ophelia to leave. "Get the to a nunnery" is one of the most famous phrases from this play. He is basically telling her to leave because he believes she is unchaste (implying that they have had a sexual relationship). Because she is unchaste, no man will ever marry her (he certainly won't). He goes on to say, "Or, if thou will marry, marry a fool, for/wise men know well enough what monsters you/make of them." By the way, that 'you' is all women. Super nice guy, that Hamlet. No wonder his
Seriously, Hamlet is the worst.
Uncle ascended the throne before him. Hamlet then reiterates that they won't be married and leaves, with what I assume is a tip of a fedora and an implied "m'lady."

Ophelia reacts with pity and worry for Hamlet, because, unlike anyone else in this play, she is a decent person who reacts appropriately to things. Polonius and Claudius reenter the scene. Claudius says that Hamlet's madness doesn't seem to be related to his feelings (or lack thereof) for Ophelia. He decides to send Hamlet to England to demand money (for an excellent reason which is???? This play is a mess). Polonius says that Gertrude should have a word with Hamlet about what his fucking problem is and if he doesn't tell her, then they send him to England. Claudius agrees to this and thus endeth the scene.

Act 3 Scene 2

Okie dokie. The whole first bit of this act is Hamlet telling an actor how to act. Because, of course, Hamlet knows all. The most important thing about this section is not the content, but the fact that it is not written in iambic pentameter (your English teachers lied to you, not all Shakespeare is in iambic pentameter). This is actually more common in late period Shakespeare (basically anything after the history plays).

Horatio enters after a while and Hamlet is a dick to him, as well. He tells Horatio he doesn't offer him flattery because, "For what advancement may I hope from thee/That no revenue hast but thy good spirits/To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?" Okay, Mitt Romney, relax. But that's not the end, either. He continues for nearly half a page on how poor Horatio is. Asshole. He then asks Horatio to help him watch Claudius during the play that will occur that night. He is hoping to catch Claudius acting suspicious during the play that mimics Claudius's murder of his own brother, Dead King Hamlet. Horatio agrees, because he is a sap.

Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Polonius, and R + G enter the scene to watch the play. Hamlet asks Polonius if he was ever an actor. Polonius, apparently, played Julius Caesar once. That's a lovely little pat on the back there, Shakespeare. Nicely done. They get ready for the play to start and Hamlet asks
Nicely done, Will. Way to be.
Ophelia if he can lie in her lap. She says no, thinking that he means that in a sexual manner. She is, understandably, very frosty toward Hamlet. He settles for laying his head in her lap. He references his Mother marrying Claudius in a hurry again.

Now, the play within the play begins. At the beginning, there is a sort of preview for the play. The actors play out exactly how Dead King Hamlet was killed. They then leave the stage and come back to start the actual, full play. The viewers are treated to a very brief prologue. Ophelia notes that it was brief, to which Hamlet responds, "As woman's love." Hamlet is apparently not over being a misogynistic douche yet. The play goes on, and the player queen goes on about how second marriages are bad. She says, "None wed the second but who killed the first" (the only person whom you should marry second is the person who murdered the first husband). (That doesn't seem familiar at all...) This sentiment is restated several times. Hamlet asks his mother what she thinks of the play so far. She responds with, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Hamlet then says that she (the player queen) will keep to her word. The play continues, with Hamlet making constant interruption, because he's a dick. The viewers are then treated to a scene depicting exactly how Claudius allegedly killed King Hamlet. At this point, Claudius rises and leaves with everyone but Hamlet and Horatio. 

Hamlet and Horatio then agree that Claudius just all but confessed to the murder of King Hamlet. R+G come back to tell Hamlet that Claudius is pissed and that Gertrude wants to speak with Hamlet. Hamlet again imparts that he doesn't think he's going to live much longer. Polonius shows back up to say exactly what R+G just said. Everybody leaves except Hamlet. Hamlet says that he's going to go talk to Gertrude and give her a lecture. He says that he's angry enough to kill her, but he won't. "Let me be cruel, not unnatural" is the phrase he uses. He then leaves the stage to go to Gertrude.


Holy shit, those were a lengthy two acts. A lot was covered. Two different plans came to fruition. Claudius now knows what is eating Hamlet and Hamlet has trapped the conscience of the King. From here on out, there will be more plans, more murder, more Hamlet hating women, really, more of everything we have just seen. It should be fun. The next scene is particularly fun for me, but I have a warped sense of humor, so take that with a grain of salt. Or one of those blocks they give cows to lick.

Until Next Time, Happy Reading

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