Alas, Poor Hamlet

There are some days when the most perfect thing in the world is to curl up on the couch absorbed in a Shakespearean drama.  A wet, cold day is best–or a rainy summer afternoon.   Perhaps it’s the stillness which comes as everyone retreats indoors.  Or because the rain drowns out all other sounds.  And you are left alone to immerse yourself into the creative genius of the Bard.

Today was not one of those days.  It was merely the last day I had to enjoy Hamlet before returning the DVD of Hamlet to the library.  Yesterday, I watched roughly the first 3 acts of Hamlet starring David Tennant.  This morning, I finished it.  Why it is a great masterpiece of literature and drama–I have no doubt.  The tragedy is powerful in its analysis of the human mind and behavior.

Why it is popular–I have no idea.

Seriously.  The play wins the prize for most dead corpses.  (Although Othello comes a close second.)  Between Hamlet’s family, Hamlet’s so-called friends, and the family of Hamlet’s girlfriend, the story ends with nine dead bodies, most of whom deceived others.

My wise mother was right.  The traitor always dies.

There is virtually no hope for Hamlet.  The audience can feel that he is doomed from the start.  Writers like Agatha Christie use the character’s love interest to pull tragic characters from the edge of disaster.  (In Christie’s novels, the young couple in love is almost always innocent).  But for Hamlet, not even Ophelia can help him.  His love for her causes him anguish because he vows to forget all other pursuits and causes to carry out revenge.  I can’t help for a geeky moment wonder what might have happened in the story had Ophelia helped Hamlet.  Perhaps Ophelia, at least, would have survived.

Horatio was pretty awesome–the only ray of light.  And Peter De Jersey did an excellent job.  At the end of it all, I was left thinking of “Good night, sweet prince.  A flight of angels sing thee to thy rest.”  And hoping that the next Shakespeare I watch ends with more characters alive than dead.  Midsummer Night’s Dream, perhaps?

Happy Shakespeare Reading,

written 9/6/13

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