Friday, May 23, 2014

Hamlet by William Shakespeare (1599)


I'm not going to be able to write a single new goddam thing about Hamlet that hasn't been written before, so there is absolutely no use trying.  

I can record a few of my responses to it though.  I've never read it before, or seen it, and while I thought I knew the story, I had no idea -- SPOILER ALERT -- that everyone -- TRIGGER WARNING - dies at the end.  Or, as Shmoop.com put it (my go to for classics when I'm finished reading them, although in this case I went there a lot while listening to it):  "And, with a body count of eight (Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes, Gertrude, Claudius, and Hamlet), it's over."  If you count old Hamlet and old Fortinbras, it's 10, but they died off screen.  

I listened to this on audio, and had a difficult time distinguishing one person from another.  Except for Gertrude and Ophelia.  That was annoying.  I had some of the same trouble when I listened to Saint Joan, but not as much.

Hamlet talks to himself a lot.  


Hamlet was surprisingly (for me at least) full of familiar quotes, phrases and idioms,  most of which I had either forgotten came from Shakespeare, or never knew at all.  Of course, everyone knows "To be, or not to be."  But others include:  

"To thine own self be true"

"Murder most foul"

"To sleep: perchance to dream"

"Ay, there's the rub"

"The undiscover'd country" (best heard in the original Klingon)


“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” 


“Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.” 


“Brevity is the soul of wit.” 


“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain. ” 


“Sweets to the sweet.” (Said over Ophelia's grave, now on Valentine candy hearts)


“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” 


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” 


"Neither a borrow nor lender be"


"Alas, Poor Yorick!  I knew him well."

"In my mind's eye"

"Good night sweet prince"

All of which have been put on posters, t-shirts and memes at one time or another.  Shakespeare:  meme generator.

And the dirty mind of Shakespeare.  "Do you think I meant country matters?" he has Hamlet say to Ophelia.  She answers: "I think nothing, my lord."  Country matters is a play on the word "cunt" and "nothing" was Elizabethan slang for a vagina.  Wow!  It's like an old episode of Three's Company!

HamletHamlet by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How the hell does one review or rate  Hamlet?  I can't possibly write one new goddam thing about it that hasn't been written before.  I can't possibly give it less than five stars - it's been constantly in print and performed for 415 years, so who the hell am I to give it anything less.  And it's written about and analyzed by some of our greatest minds - and I certainly am not one of those (to thine own self be true).   I will just say two things.  1) Hamlet talks to himself a lot.  2)  William Shakespeare was the Elizabethan equivalent of a meme generator:  
"To be or not to be"
"To thine own self be true"
"Murder most foul"
"To sleep: perchance to dream"
"Ay, there's the rub"
"The undiscover'd country" (best heard in the original Klingon)
“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.”
“Brevity is the soul of wit.”
“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain. ”
“Sweets to the sweet.” (Said over Ophelia's grave, now on Valentine candy hearts)
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
"Neither a borrow nor lender be" (remember that Phil Silvers sang in Gilligan's Island)
"In my mind's eye"
"Good night sweet prince"

All this from one play too.  



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