Author: William Shakespeare.
Genre: Literature, fiction, play, tragedy.
Publication Date: Written between 1599-1602.
First Performed: 1602.
Summary: Ultimately derives from the legend of Amleth (figure in a medieval Scandinavian legend), it is a “revenge tragedy,” in which the hero, Hamlet, seeks vengeance against his father’s alleged murderer, his uncle Claudius, now the king of Denmark, after the ghost of his father visits Hamlet to inform him of the details of his passing.
My rating: 8.5/10.
My review: Some of the most well-known Shakespeare quotes hail from Hamlet, and I think this is because it is probably the most accessible of his plays (rivaled only by, perhaps, Romeo and Juliet). And it is undeniable that he is at the top of his skill here. The poetry is gorgeous and evocative, as Shakespeare lets his characters duel with and challenge great concepts - the supernatural, the sense of self, love and sanity, loyalty and friendship, ultimately life and death. All that said, however, Hamlet has always been one of my least favourite literary characters. Whiny, over-dramatic, and overly-angsty characters (and, come to think of it, people) have always been a pet-peeve of mine (as they were even when I was a whiny, over-dramatic, angsty teen myself and, theoretically, should have been able to relate). Hamlet is a whiny, spoiled, selfish and callous young man who spits in the face of the people who care for him (poor, sweet Ophelia - is there anything more unfair and uncalled for than her fate?) and ultimately causes the tragedy that unfolds. I've also always gotten a strong sense while reading the play that he is as likely to have actually seen a ghost of his father, as gone into a bout of mania born of grief and a weak mental disposition and hallucinated the entire thing. What is clear is that in historical context, he is not in any way adapted to his position or role in life, and his death didn't evoke much pity in me, as, even if it wasn't a Shakespearean tragedy, it's evident from almost the very beginning there is no way but up for Hamlet. I do believe that it's indicative of Shakespeare's brilliancy that I can dislike the character as much as I do, but love the play as much as I do.
♥ See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are more select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
♥ Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
♥ I have of late - but wherefore I know not - lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises: and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what it this quintessence of dust? man delights not me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
♥ To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep:
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pang of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit if the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
♥ Nay, do not think I flatter:
For what advancement may I hope from thee,
That no revenue hast but thy good aspirits,
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter’d?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath sealed thee for herself: for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing;
A man that fortune’s buffets and rewards
Hast ta’en with equal thanks: and blessed are those
Whose blood and judgement are so well commingled
That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.
♥ I do believe you think what now you speak,
But what we do determine oft we break.
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth but poor validity:
Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree,
But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
Most necessary ‘tis that we forget
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:
What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures with themselves destroy;
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
This world is not for aye, not ‘tis not strange,
That even our loves should with our fortunes change,
For ‘tis a question left us yet to prove,
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
The poor advanced makes friends of enemies:
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend:
For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
And who in want a hollow friend doth try
Directly seasons him his enemy.
But, orderly to end where I begun,
Our wills and fates do so contrary run,
That our devices still are overthrown,
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own...
♥ Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.
♥ My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
♥ Why, then, 'tis none to you: for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.
♥ ...their perfume lost,
Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
♥ It shall be so;
Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.
♥ Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play:
For some must watch, while some must sleep;
So runs the world away.
♥ My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
♥ So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.