Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

tragedy-of-hamlet.jpgHamlet by William Shakespeare

Rating: ★★★★★ // so. much. goodness. (and killing). 

Favorite Line: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

Review:

Am I allowed to review Shakespeare? I don’t think I am…I’m just a mere peasant, after all. Well, this will be a mini-review then, with limited critiques, mainly because I couldn’t find many things to actually criticize.

Why have I never read Hamlet before? Well, probably because I’m a punk and I assumed it was overrated. Also, I already knew the story, so I figured there wasn’t really a reason for me to read it. As it turns out, there is a reason to read it and the reason is because it’s awesome.

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

Hamlet, for all you other non Hamlet readers, is the Prince of Denmark. The play picks up right after the marriage of his mother to his uncle, which takes place only one month after Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, is killed. Hamlet is in a foul mood, for obvious reasons, when he meets the ghost of his father, who tells him he was murdered and must be avenged. This sends Hamlet deeper into madness, and he devises a plan to trap his father’s murderer and take his revenge. He’s also in love with Ophelia.

“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

The plot of Hamlet is terrific. While I had known the general plot before reading, it really takes a shape of it’s own, and is much more intricate in the play. Obviously in a play the narrative is the main way of moving the plot along, and the way it is done in this play is brilliant (this is Shakespeare, after all).

I always forget how funny some of Shakespeare’s characters are. Even in a somber mood, he frequently seems to bring in the sarcastic, or at least the witty, friend to lighten the mood, or to bring the character back to his senses. Another thing I really liked about this play is that the wisdom, much of the time, comes from insignificant characters. There is a conversation between two gravediggers, I think in Act III, and they are just laying down solid philosophy the whole time, all while telling riddles and jokes to each other. So here we have a play full of royals and scholars, but some of the most intelligent conversation comes in jest between two gravediggers. It’s a great way for Shakespeare to make his point without making it too obvious.

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

The quotes alone are worth the read in this one. This is where the “method in the madness” saying comes from, the “be true to yourself” quote pops in there (of course, it’s in rhyme in the play), this is where the famous “to be or not to be” speech is found, and there is also the amazing line, “get thee to a nunnery!” which is, of course, fantastic.

“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”

Ok, so spoiler alert up ahead for any of you yet to pick up this play, but it’s my only criticism and I want to talk about it. Why did Hamlet have to die? I mean, I assumed it would happen from the beginning because in these plays everyone dies, but it was really unnecessary. The only reason I can think of is that he had no one else to live for, but c’mon man, you’re like 25, you will find another Ophelia and you’ll probably be King of Denmark, so just stay alive. That’s my only real criticism. I really hated that Ophelia died too…she was so sweet, but that one I understand because her life really fell apart fast. 

 

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

I definitely want to read this one again, because it really is so rich and full of wisdom. So, is Hamlet overrated? Well, to quote Hamlet, Act III, Scene III, line 87, “No!”.

 

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10 thoughts on “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

  1. I love Hamlet so much, I took my blogging name from it 😉 It’s such a rich play — no matter how often I read it or watch a performance, I find new things to think about.

    I like what you said here:

    As it turns out, there is a reason to read it and the reason is because it’s awesome.

    Precisely 🙂

    As for your question about why Hamlet had to die, you hit part of it, I think — that he didn’t have much left to live for. I think that’s why he’s at peace with his fate. But also… by the end of the play, he’s committed two murders, orchestrated the death of two characters off-screen, and unwittingly killed another person. If he had lived, would he have then become king? Or would he have been imprisoned or executed for murder? He committed regicide in front of witnesses, after all, and with zero hard evidence that Claudius had killed his father. We, the audience, know Claudius did it because of his prayer scene that you quoted (and I LOVE that line about prayers and thoughts), but even Hamlet doesn’t get to hear that. He has only his intuition, the word of the Ghost, and the fact that Claudius acted guilty at the play. Not very convincing, from an objective point of view. Hamlet probably wouldn’t have lived long anyway, and he would have probably been wracked with guilt and sorrow over the deaths of Gertrude and Ophelia. While I’m sad he dies, I’m also okay with it.

    If that makes sense?

    Really digging your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Thanks for the response!! Yes that makes sense, I think I was just responding in anger because I didn’t want him to die, but what you said makes sense! I definitely need to reread to over and over again to find all these reasons. I don’t think I was surprised he died because, well it is Shakespeare, but I think I thought he would be pardoned for the murders and that he would actually be a good king in the end, and so I just blamed Shakespeare for killing him for no reason, but, as you pointed out, I guess he really couldn’t have stayed alive…he was too attached to death.

      Thanks so much for commenting and responding to my question, this is why I love book review blogs because we can talk about these things on here!!

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      1. Yeah, I have rewritten the play in my head countless times to make it work for Hamlet to live. Actually, the opera version ends differently, and Hamlet doesn’t die, so that’s pretty nifty. They make it work by having the Ghost appear to everyone at the end and denounce Claudius, so then Hamlet isn’t just acting on his own.

        I love book review blogs for the same reason!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My other main favorite is “Much Ado About Nothing,” and I really enjoy “The Taming of the Shrew” as well. I haven’t read nearly all his plays myself, and really should read more them sooner rather than later. I find “Othello” pretty fascinating, and “The Merchant of Venice” too. What are some of your favorites?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. My all time favorite is “Julius Caesar” and I really like “the Tempest” and “Macbeth” as well. I think “The Merchant of Venice” is next on my list, but I also really want to read “Much Ado About Nothing.”

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      4. I still haven’t read Julius Caesar in its entirety. I like The Tempest pretty well, but I’m not a huge Macbeth fan, though I’d like to see the Michael Fassbender and Patrick Stewart versions. I quite like The Merchant of Venice.

        Like

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