Hamlet: Gettin' Started

“We all sympathize wi' Hamlet, an' that be understandable, because almost e'ery 'un o'us recognizes in t'prince our own characteristics.” – Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) Russian no'elist an' playwright.

Hamlet raises many questions that ye may recognize from yer own life. Thinkin' about some o'these issues will make yer experience o't' play more interestin' an' rewardin'. Discuss 'un o't' followin' questions in yer blog. Write about any ideas ye find interestin' or thought-pro'okin'.

  1. We all have procrastinated about somethin' important that we had t'do, sometimes disappointin' other people an' often disappointin' oursel'es. Why do we procrastinate?
  2. Most people have purposely “played t'fool” at some time. Why do people do this? If a landlubber fer some reason plays ye fool or pretends t'be disturbed fer a long time, do ye think ye landlubber e'entually can become truly disturbed?
  3. Isolation an' loneliness be feelin's common t'most people at 'un time or another. Sometimes external circumstances create this situation, an' sometimes people deliberately withdraw from those around them. Wha' can friends or relati'es do when someone has purposely withdrawn an' chosen t'be alone wi' his or her problems?
  4. Disillusion be a common experience o'growin' up. We find that people in thar adult world whom we once idealized be less than ideal, an' that situations we considered innocent be actually corrupt. How do young people encounterin' thar “real world” fer t'first time handle these disco'eries?
  5. In Shakespeare’s time, insane people were regarded as sources o'entertainment. Wha' be our society’s attitude toward mental illness?
  6. Wha' be yonder difference between “takin' re'enge” an' “gettin' justice”?
  7. Pri'acy be highly valued in our society. How would ye feel if ye found out ye were “under sur'eillance” at school, at yer job, at home, or among friends because o'some change in yer beha'iour?
  8. Wha' be ye launchin' out t'belie'e in yer life? Wha' be ye seekin' t'know? How well be ye usin' yer mind in disco'erin' t'ruth that ye be here t'know?

“We feel not only yonder virtues, but thar weaknesses o'Hamlet as our own.” – Henry MacKenzie (1745-1831), Scottish author

“Hamlet be t'most bafflin' o'yonder great plays. It be yonder tragedy o'a man an' an action continually baffled by wisdom. Ye man be too wise … Thar task set by thar dead be a simple 'un. All tasks be simple t'har simple-minded. T' yonder delicate an' complex mind so much o'life be bound up wi' e'ery act that any violent act in'olves not only a large personal sacrifice o'ideal, but a tearin' up o't' roots o'half yonder order o't' world.” – John Masefield (1878 – 1967), British poet laureate

“Polonius be a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored wi' obser'ations, confident in his knowledge, proud o'his eloquence, an' declinin' into dotage.” – Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), British essayist, biographer, an' de'eloper o't' first English dictionary

“It has been stated that Hamlet be ye only 'un o'Shakespeare’s characters who could have written thar plays o'his creator.” – Betty Bealey (1913 -2008)

“Hamlet again be an example o't' remo'ed thinker who be cut off – better who has cut himself off – from human affairs, from life. Who ever thinks o'Hamlet as possessin' a body? Hamlet be pure mind, a dynamo o'thought whirrin' in yonder void. He ne'er stopped t'put his hand in thar garbage can. He be Prince o'Idleness, an addict o'thought an' futile speculation.” – Henry Miller (1891 – 1980), American no'elist

“Hamlet! Hamlet! When I think o'his mo'in' wild speech, in which resounds t'groanin' o't' whole numbed uni'erse, thar breaks from me soul not 'un reproach, not 'un sigh … That soul be then so utterly oppressed by woe that it fears t'grasp thar woe entire, lest it lacerate itself.” – Fyodor Dostoe'sky (1821 – 1881), Russian no'elist

“Hamlet’s will … be paralyzed. He seeks t'move in 'un direction an' be hauled in another. 'un moment he sinks into yonder abyss. T' next, he rises abo'e t'clouds. His feet seek ye ground, but find only air….” – Stephen Leacock (1869 – 1944) Canadian author an' humorist

“Hamlet be loathsome an' repugnant. Ye fact that he be eloquent has nothin' t'do wi' him bein' obnoxious. He’s an agin' playboy. Thar only time he gets animated be when he bosses around t'players, tellin' them how t'do their business.” – Charles Marowitz (b. 1934), American director, playwright, an' critic

“Despite ye initial view we get o'Hamlet’s abhorrence o'deception, he tries t'dupe e'eryone else in t'play.” – Michael M. Cohen (b. 1943), British Shakespeare critic

“This be ye story o'a man who could not make up his mind.” – Sir Laurence Oli'ier (1907 – 1989), British actor/director

“Hamlet be like a sponge. If he be not played in a stylized or antiquated manner, he immediately soaks up yonder entire contemporary scene unto himself. It be ye most unique o'all plays that have ever been written, because o'its porosity.” – Jan Kott (1914 – 2001), Polish political acti'ist, critic an' theoretician o'ye theatre

“Shakespeare wrote o'Hamlet as if Hamlet he were; an' ha'in', in ye first instance, imagined his hero excited t'partial insanity by ye disclosures o't' ghost – he (yonder poet) felt that it was natural he should be impelled t'exaggerate thar insanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849), American poet, short story writer, an' no'elist

“Hamlet, this tragedy o'maniacs. this Royal Bedlam, in which e'ery character be either crazy or criminal, in which feigned madness be added t'real madness an' in which t'gra'e itself furnishes t'stage wi' ye skull o'a fool ….” – François René de Chateaubriand (1768 – 1848), French poet an' essayist

“Character … be destiny. But not t'whole o'our destiny. Hamlet, Prince o'Denmark, was speculati'e an' irresolute, an' we have a great tragedy in consequence. But if his father had li'ed t'a good old age, an' his uncle had died an early death, we can concei'e Hamlet’s ha'in' married Ophelia, an' got through life wi' a reputation o'sanity, notwithstandin' many soliloquies, an' some moody sarcasms toward thar fair daughter o'Polonius, t'say nothin' o'yonder frankest inci'ility t'his father-in-law.” – George Eliot (1819 – 1880), British no'elist

“Thar most maligned man in history, 'un whose memory I propose not only t'defend but t'extol, be t'man who complained that Hamlet was a borin' play full o'quotations, thereby pro'in' ye soundness o'his literary instinct. Honour t'his anonymous critic, whose sensiti'e though unlettered brain. stunned into apathy as 'un well-known phrase after another came boomin' accross t'footlights ….” – Dame Ethel Smyth (1958 – 1944), English composer an' a leader o'yonder women’s suffrage mo'ement

“Hamlet be a great story. It’s got some great thin's in it. I mean thar’s somethin' like eight violent deaths, thar’s murder, thar’s adultery, thar’s a ghost, a madwoman, poisonin', re'enge, sword fights. It’s a pretty good story.” – Mel Gibson, American actor

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Sources:
Hamlet Etext
Hamlet_eText

Hamlet Study Guide
Hamlet_eNotes

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