Welcome back to my bookshelf!
We’re continuing with my very limited Shakespeare collection today, as last week covered The Comedy of Errors. Today we’re doing Hamlet!!!!
No, it’s not the soliloquy. I just really love Helena Bonham Carter. There are worse things.
I first read Hamlet when I was twelve, and I have to say, I bonded with it well. First of all, The Lion King, my favorite childhood film, was based on this play. Instant bond there. Also, there’s just something wonderful about a ghost story in the middle of brooding, depressed Hamlet grossed out by his mother marrying his uncle (as he totally should be).
In high school, a friend of mine became kind of obsessed with this story. She hand-wrote the soliloquy for both of us to memorize, which I dutifully did, and she had me read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (by Tom Stoppard, which we’ll get to when we get to the regular shelves). And I loved it.
And then in college, in my course on tragedy, we covered Hamlet for one section of class (it was a great class, we’ll get to more of my readings later) and for our paper we had to discuss different adaptations of the story. So I picked the Stoppard work, The Lion King, and the Oedipal Hamlet (as my dear friend Natalie Cannon refers to the Mel Gibson version). And it was so much fun, watching them all, reading them all over again.
The story is classic, and while Disney doesn’t kill Nala (our Ophelia), it does pretty much everything else perfectly. The Stoppard version tells the exact same story as the original, but from a slightly different viewpoint (plus the film has a fabulous Gary Oldman being fabulous, so that’s a plus). And Oedipal Hamlet is perfectly cast and just manages to be funny in spite of how tragic the story is.
My version of the play is inherited from my sister, when she was getting rid of her individual Shakespeares, as mentioned in the previous post. It’s a fairly basic copy, fits nicely on my short shelf, and reminds me of one of my favorite stories every time I look at it.
This is what I like about Shakespeare, the tragic, the twisted, the depressed and psychologically troubled. He does it so well. Hamlet is maybe the best example of this.
Put your favorite Shakespeare play in the comments below!