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|GR: Why I love Hamlet
Written by Cheryl
(6/11/2003 4:29 p.m.)
The language. I will freely admit that not everyone “gets” or is comfortable with the rhythms of Elizabethan language. But for those who do, Hamlet is a feast. These phrases just roll of the tongue and bring such vibrant images that I can’t help but have a frisson of delight when I hear them:
Oh, I’d better stop, or I’ll just quote the whole play. But that brings up another point – Shakespeare has so pervaded our language, he had an incredible impact on the English language, and Hamlet is the most well-known and quoted of his plays.
I took my younger brother to see the Mel Gibson Hamlet when he was about 20. It was his first Shakespeare experience. As we left the theater, he turned to me and said, “I knew half the lines of that play!” It stunned him that he, a complete neophyte to Shakespeare, had picked up so much of the language just through osmosis. (Granted, the Gibson Hamlet is “Hamlet’s Greatest Hits”, but still.)
The subject matter is timeless. “To be or not to be..” Hamlet asks the basic questions of life: Why are we here? What is our purpose? What should we do with our lives? How do we relate with people, with our family, with our friends? What do we do when that life falls apart? How do we cope when confronted with evil?
I’m not saying that Hamlet has all the answers to these questions, or that he even comes up with the correct ones, but he is trying to cope, trying to deal grief and betrayal and evil. To those who say he dithers, he takes too long to make up his mind, I would say that is part of what makes Hamlet a real person and not a caricature. Real people aren’t perfect and don’t have all the answers. It is the journey one takes when trying to find the answers that make us human.
There is suspense and drama and humor and questions and ambiguities and issues that transcend this specific play and place, else why would we be so interested in discussing and arguing about it 400 years later? Even those who hate the play have to admit that it stirs something in them, else they would not hate it. Indifference is the opposite of love, not hate.
There are many more reasons why I love this play, but I will let the other ladies exhibit. ;-)
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