Saturday 21 January 2012
Hamlet - William Shakespeare
The scenes at the start of the soldiers seeing the ghost was a great start. It certainly set up the atmosphere of the play. It reminded me of the creepy start to Macbeth. Whilst I enjoyed it, for me it didn't keep up the atmosphere through out unlike Macbeth. I felt that there was too much in between rather than getting to the point. Hamlets doubts were slightly irritating and I wanted him to just get the thumb out and go and confront his uncle. If he had mind you it wouldn't really have been a tragedy. The King and his mother wouldn't have thought him mad and felt the need for covert operations in order to discover why. Which wouldn't have led to so many deaths.
I found that I had to rely on the back of the book to explain things to me more than any of the other plays so far. It didn't quite take all the enjoyment out of it but as a result it was a little more slow going and I was impatient to get to the good bit. The last few scenes were probably the best for me. When Hamlet finally does get his revenge and of course doesn't really have long to enjoy it. If you aren't aware before (sorry for the spoiler) this is one of those plays in which almost no one survives. Good news for Norway whom the King was in dispute with at the start of the play.
Hamlet refers to his mothers marriage as incestuous but I think he was more bothered by the fact that it happened so quickly (well, until he found out what his uncle did). Interestingly although the King and his new wife weren't actually related it would have been classed as incest back then. Henry VIII was only able to get dispensation from the Pope to marry his brother's wife because the relationship hadn't been consummated (although Henry disputed that to get out of the marriage 20 years later). I think it's a safe bet though that this wasn't the case with the Hamlet's parents.
Overall I did like it. I liked the atmosphere and I liked the fact that both sides were plotting against each other. I think though this is one that I will get more out of watching than reading.
I read this as part of Shakespeare month hosted by Allie of A Literary Odyssey. You can see posts by others taking part here. She has also posted an update about the challenge here. We have a few extra days to read more.
Remember to leave a comment here if you want to win a copy of The Eyre Affair. Hamlet doesn't make an appearance in that book but he does later on in the series and there are many other characters from classics to enjoy before he does.