As I mentioned before Hamlet was my Classics Club spin pick. I put off reading it until literally the last day of May, and I finished it in one day while accomplishing other things like a ridiculously long process of hanging a very high curtain rod that possibly triggered a large nosebleed, but that is another story.
I know I’ve skimmed this story version of Hamlet and possibly the real version ages ago. To me it seemed pointless, confusing, fatalistic, with lots of meaningless tragedy and angst. Oh, and overrated. My “where’s the love story?” teen/early twenties monomania was not satisfied with the left-over love story wreck I found. And philosophy has always eluded and bored me. Hence, my not reading this VERY (if not most) famous play and instead reading some lesser favored ones instead.
I read Sparknotes No Fear Shakespeare (I apparently got an older version, but there is an expanded version?!) which has Shakepeare’s original one side and modern English on the other side. I’m proud to say I did manage to mostly read from the original, but I found the modern and notes helpful. I’m in love with this version and want to get all the plays.
So many of the famous Shakespeare quotes are from Hamlet, I knew the most over-used of course, but “frailty thy name is woman (Brandon)” was the best because I just love when literature quotes literature.
I remembered Ophelia died, and Hamlet’s death although rather forgotten was not a surprise. I was a little confused about Claudius since the notes threw a question on what the “ghost” actually was. Oh, he was guilty, he admitted it, but I was thrown off for awhile. And I was worried he wouldn’t meet his just deserts.
I was pleasantly surprise by how quick my interest was caught. I found it less dull and melancholy (not really melancholy at all) than I’d remembered. I learned (unsurprisingly) some dirty Shakespearean modern English (yes, the modern period started around then) slang.
Hamlet (surprisingly) was awesomely sassy. Full of smart comments and tongue lashings. And him popping up to annoy Claudius, especially at the end when he returns from the ship was just hilarious in timing and tone. And because of all this, was he truly mad or feigning madness or both? He sure seemed to enjoy pushing Claudius’ buttons! I’m not sure what the standard interpretation of Hamlet’s behavior is.
Ophelia was as seemingly incidental in role as I remember, we didn’t “see” Hamlet and Ophelia during their love affair, nor do they seem to have any affection, particularly not he, when we do see them together. I loved her flower bit; her innocent rapier thrust with the language of flowers. Now, she was truly crazy.
The evil pair did get their just deserts, but I felt the play dragged towards the middle end and then everyone was finished off in a slap-dash manner, and then it ends in a ludicrously quick manner.
So, while I do think it is overrated in terms of depth, I am inspired to watch versions of Hamlet, and I did enjoy it more than I was expecting. And I’m especially inspired to read and re-read more Shakespeare. On to reading Coriolanus, so that I can watch the play which premieres on Youtube the day this post comes out!
So… I have to admit… I’ve read lots of his sonnets, but I’ve mostly only watched productions of his plays, including Hamlet. Although I did read Julius Cesar because I was in a production of it in High School!
I think I read or heard someone mention, they ARE meant to be seen, I think lots of people, myself included, forget about that. Of course, if I didn’t read them first I would be lost, I still end up pretty lost when watching sometimes. That is my main reason to be reading Coriolanus after all, I want to watch Tom Hiddleston!
Shakespeare always surprises me. I hope to watch Coriolanus soon!!
I love being happily surprised which Hamlet did, not majorly, but it wasn’t the drag I thought it would be.