How many of you groan at the thought of Shakespeare's play "Hamlet"? How many had to read and study it in high school? Anyone ever seen it on the stage or any of the movie versions? What are your thoughts?
I am currently finishing up "Hamlet" with a student I tutor and have to say that up to now, I've never been a fan of the play. However, every time I have to help a student with it, I learn a little bit more. I think I've finally figured out the point that Shakespeare was trying to make through this story of a Danish prince.
For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Hamlet's father was King of Denmark and murdered by his brother Claudius, who then married his sister-in-law Gertrude. The play follows young Hamlet as he professes to seek revenge on his uncle while at the same time, trying to love his mother as before, even though he feels she has committed the ultimate sin.
I have previously found the character of Hamlet to be frustrating because he talks a great talk but never acts on his words! I still don't "like" the story that much, but at least this "go-round" I finally "got it." Hamlet starts off in grief and is very depressed because his father, the King, has died. The play works its way through Hamlet's desire to avenge his death when he finds out the truth of who and why he was murdered.
It takes a long time, in my mind, to show how Hamlet evolves from being a "thinker" who never acts on his determinations to a "thinker" who realizes that one's life and death are in the hands of fate.
There are some words of wisdom in "Hamlet," a few of which I present here:
But he dies. It seems like everyone dies. As in all Shakespeare's tragedies. My student is doing an artistic rendition (collage) to illustrate the progress of Hamlet's character through the play. It was one option out of several, most of which were literary essays. I convinced her this would be a lot easier and a welcome change from writing the obligatory essay! She agreed and I think she will do well.
Thanks goodness my other grade 12 students are doing "Othello," which I find much more fun - even though it is a tragedy, too. What might be your favourite Shakespearean play?