To Hamlet, or not to Hamlet, that is the question…
So I really dislike Hamlet. To borrow my cousin’s words and use them in a way she would never intend, he is a “sad, strange little wagon, and he has my pity.” Not really, about the pity part. I think he is in a perpetual pity party of his own, and I think that the entire play is messed up.
But that’s just my humble opinion.
Hamlet the play is not much better. I do however, think that there are several themes that are brought up in the play that are worthwhile to think about. For example, what is insanity, and simultaneously, what then is sanity? What constitutes murder? Or to what degree is Queen Gertrude unfaithful to her former husband, and what exactly does she do to indicate unfaithfulness, and consequently, what is unfaithfulness?
Hamlet himself seems to constantly be torn between two or more sides, personalities (is he an example of Multiple Personality Disorder?), ways of thinking, and moral codes. Is he correct in not killing Claudius, or incorrect? And what are his true motivations? Does he really love Ophelia, or did he really love his father? Can he love anyone besides himself?
Then there is the oft quoted Polonius, the advisor who rarely stops to listen to any others’ advice, let alone take his own! Laertes, Ophelia, Gertrude, Claudius, the Ghost, Bernardo, Horatio, and the infamous Rosencrantz and Guildenstern make up the rest of the notable characters in the play.
There are some good quotes in this play in addition to the many themes or issues it raises.
“Set the word to the action, and the action to the word…”
“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.”
“This above all – to thine own self be true,/ And it must follow, as the night does the day,/ Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
“Frailty, thy name is woman.”
“The play’s the thing/ Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
“To be, or not to be; that is the question.”
“The lady protests too much, methinks.”
“Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”
“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”
” For to define true madness,/ What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?”
I think that Hamletcontains much to be studied out, but that overall, it is worthwhile. Although I really do not enjoy the play’s plots, and I think that very few of its characters are sympathetic, and it is one of my least favorite of Shakespeare works, I certainly appreciate it. I especially enjoy discussing the various themes in class. Just recently, we were talking about what exactly Hamlet’s tragic flaw is. Is it his eagerness to adopt any role life offers him, or is it his indecisiveness, or his selfishness, or is he simply mad? Personally, I believe that his tragic flaw is perfectionism, which is caused by selfishness and pride. He wants to do everything perfectly so that he can get the glory: he will not kill Claudius because the time wasn’t right for Hamlet to look good for killing him; he will not marry Ophelia because she is basically a nobody, so he wouldn’t get anything in the way of recognition, fame, or money, from marrying her; and he cannot decide what is right or wrong, because he is judging by his own skewered standards, which consist mainly of himself! That is enough to cause anyone to go ‘mad’ and in fact, most of the characters in this play are ‘mad’ in the sense that they are out of touch with reality, the reality that is absolute and outside of themselves.
All in all, Hamlet is OK. But only just OK. What it has caused me to think on though, is very much worth the reading. After all, the play’s the thing wherein to catch the conscience of the king!