Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hamlet Part 6: Everyone is a Sneaky Liar

Are you ready, kids? [Aye, aye, Captain!] Oooooh.... Who lives in Denmark and is kinda crazy?! Literally everyone in this play. That doesn't rhyme, but it is hella accurate.

Now that that little bit of weirdness is out of the way, 'tis time for some Hamlet to slake thine lust.

Act 4 Scene 1

Okie dokie, in this scene, Gertrude meets up with Claudius and immediately tells Claudius that Hamlet killed Polonius. Which is, if you remember back to the last scene, exactly what she told Hamlet she would not do. So... there's that. No one ever does what they say they will in this play. That's probably why everyone dies. I'd say "spoiler alert," but this play was written in 1601. If you
This works for all the tragedy plays, really.
don't know how it ends, that's kinda your problem. Anyway, R +G are also there, but they don't speak and are quickly shooed away.

Claudius asks Gertrude what Hamlet is doing now. Apparently, he has gone to dismember Polonius's body and hide it. Because that is a totally normal thing to do. I retract what I said in the last Hamlet update. Hamlet is fucking crazy. But he comes by it naturally. Everyone in this play is fucking nuts and really bad at planning shit out. Foresight is, apparently, not a royal trait.

Claudius calls R + G back into the scene and tells them to go find Hamlet and get him to tell them where he hid the body. They are to then take the body to the chapel and make it quick. They leave (again, without saying a word) and Claudius points out the Hamlet is a nut and that they should probably be careful to not end up in his cross-hairs. No shit, Sherlock.

Act 4 Scene 2

R+G find Hamlet. Hamlet is, I assume, triumphantly walking about the castle, dusting himself off after having successfully hidden the body of his girlfriend's dad, whom he has just murdered. You know, like you do. I say this because the first line of the scene is Hamlet saying "safely stowed" to himself.

Anyway, R+G ask him where the body is. Hamlet makes a point of telling them that he knows they are working for Claudius. He calls Rosencrantz a 'sponge' for the King's affections. He tells Rosencrantz that it will backfire on him, because the King will keep everything for himself in the end. Rosencrantz doesn't get it and goes back to asking about the body of Polonius. Hamlet tells them that, "The body is with the King, but the King is not/with the body." Always with the riddles, Hamlet. You're quite the ham. Cue rim-shot. Hamlet then makes an allusion to Hide and Seek, like they are playing a game with the corpse, and they all run off.

Act 4 Scene 3

These were really short scenes, so I did three. Yay! I know you're all very excited about this.

This scene is really just more of the same. Hamlet hid the body! Where is the body?! Riddles! Nonsense! Crazy Danish people! It's all very exciting.

Claudius is alone with some attendants at the beginning of the scene. He is talking about how he is going to send Hamlet to England. He says, "Diseases desperate grown/by desperate appliance are relieved,/Or not at all." He means that desperate times call for desperate measures. If Hamlet is to be dealt with, it must be done immediately or it won't get done. He has a point. He's evil, but not stupid.

R+G enter the scene and say that Hamlet won't tell them where the body is. Claudius tells them to bring Hamlet it and they do. This seems like a really pointless half-step.

Claudius asks Hamlet where Polonius is. Hamlet tells him the Polonius is at supper. He makes a very long metaphor about how Polonius is at supper because he is supper for worms. He goes on about
how we're all just worm food in the end. He very grossly points out that "a king may go/a progress
Seriously, stop it with the gross shit, Hamlet.
through the guts of a beggar." Like I said, kinda gross. But not wrong.

Claudius asks once again where Polonius is, because these scenes are not repetitive enough. Hamlet intones that Polonius is in Heaven, and Claudius should send a messenger to find him. If the messenger doesn't find him there, then Claudius himself should go look for him in Hell. It's a very eloquent way to tell you step-dad to go fuck himself. Hamlet then states that if they refuse to do either, they should be able to smell Polonius in about a month when they enter the lobby of the castle. Okay, eww. Claudius sends the attendants to go look for the body there.

This is where Claudius tells Hamlet that he is being sent to England. Hamlet is remarkably chill about it, but then calls Claudius his mother. Claudius corrects him with "Thy loving father, Hamlet." HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Fucking really? You think anyone is buying that shit at this point, Claudius? Hamlet just gives him what amounts to a 'whateves, bro' and skedaddles.

Once left alone again, Claudius has the opportunity to underline the fact the he assumes Hamlet is going to die in England. He thinks the King of England will kill him for some crazy fucking reason involving tributes and money or some shit. It's not super important WHY he thinks this will happen, just THAT he thinks it will happen. He says that Hamlet is like a raging fever and he won't be able to rest until Hamlet is dead. Loving father, indeed.


Language is flexible?!
I don't really have any conclusions to draw. Nothing really gets accomplished. No one dies. After this, though, the death toll rises pretty quickly. I do have one thing to point out though about the language this play and all of Shakespeare's plays are written in.

This, my dear and lovely friends, is not Old English. Don't believe anyone who says it is. Beowulf is written in Old English and it bares only a passing resemblance to the English we know and butcher on a daily basis. This is also not Middle English, which is a little closer to modern English, but is still basically unintelligible to people who don't have an intimate knowledge of Middle English. The language we are dealing with here is Early Modern English. That's right kids, it's basically the language we speak today. The only
difference is that this writing is happening in a time when modern English rules were not yet set. There was no rigid set of rules to adhere to, so it was a huge free-for-all when it came to constructing written works. There was even more license to invent words. Did you know that Shakespeare invented the word 'Elbow?' What the fuck did they call the bendy bit of your arm before then?

The crux of what I'm trying to say here is this: Most people make Shakespeare more complex than it really is. We are basically dealing with our own language, just with more fluidity and poetic license. When you're reading Shakespeare, remember to relax and just read it. See what sticks. You'll be surprised how easy it really is if you don't stress about it.

Until Next Time, Happy Reading

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