The reason why Shakespeare’s Hamlet is played on modern stages five hundred years after the play was written is not because awful literature teacher have found a perfect tool to torture their pupils with. That may be one reason why we have to study it in school, but I have to admit that this is not the likely main reason to study it. The main reason might be that it’s an awfully good story.

The play’s endurance is probably more due to the questions dotted throughout the play; one of which is the most famous passage in the English Language. Condensed into Modern English, the question is: What’s the point of it all?

The theme for this term is ‘love through the ages’. We also have to study one Shakespeare play. I thought studying Hamlet through the lens of this term’s theme would be interesting, and it is. Because, when you distill Hamlet down, isn’t it really a story about love?

Would you avenge someone who you despised and hated? And if you are a loving human being, isn’t the outcome of revenge that which you see in the ending of Hamlet.

There's another: why may not that be the skull of a
lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets,
his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? why does he
suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the
sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of
his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be
in's time a great buyer of land, with his statutes,
his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,
his recoveries: is this the fine of his fines, and
the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine
pate full of fine dirt? will his vouchers vouch him
no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than
the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The
very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in
this box; and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?
— Shakespeare, “Hamlet, Act 5: Scene 1”

***

While it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish me and Mark from the rest of the neighbourhood’s simple middle class aspirations and while we will probably, in ten years time, be indistinguishable from the rest of the Dursley clones that live here, there is one thing that we have resisted so far.

Mark’s parents were, when they lived in this house, members of a neighbourhood association that arranges an annual flea market, has a pub evening now and then, and tries to introduce an autocratic dictatorship on our street with the Chairman as the Absolute and Glorious Leader.

Think of it like a Parrish council, sans the religion, and without Dawn French to provide the comic relief. It’s more like the Parrish council of JK Rowling’s book “The Casual Vacancy”. It’s not the sort of club that either me or Mark would like to join, or be members of. Christ, we’d have to take a subscription of the Daily Fail and start to go on and on about yobs, benefit leeches, and foreigners.

Ever since Mark’s parents moved out, and ever since me and Mark moved in, the Neighbourhood Association have been after us to become members. They tried to make us members by default, by transferring Mark’s parents membership to us, but we said no then by not paying the membership fee they billed us for.

So far we’ve avoided giving a proper response to whether we want to join, and thus the Chairman came over to our house to finally get a submission from us.

It is strange having a grown man with huge hands, grey pig-gristle hair, and the body-shape of a tun of ale sit in our kitchen and go on about how we should join, and that the association is a modern and forward-looking one that doesn’t have ANY problem with us being … well… like us.

Why is it that grown people have such difficulty saying what they think, instead of trying to couch words? Don’t they understand that by talking around something, they focus on that thing much more than they would if they just said “we don’t mind if you’re poofs”.

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