Theatre Thursday: Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Welcome to Theatre Thursday!  Because plays are books too, I will be featuring each Thursday a play I’ve read that I think you should read.  After all, I got a degree in this stuff and it’s languishing.

So.  That’s the plan for Theatre Thursday.

On this fine Thursday I’m exhausted from too little sleep and a full day of work, so I’ll just give you a selection now and talk about why, later.

You should read William Shakespeare’s HAMLET.  Not just because it’s a classic, though that’s important.  But also because it’s a very SMART play, a very TIGHT play, and way better than most people would have you believe.

If, like many folks, you feel plays were meant to be watched and not read (and indeed this is true), then I strongly recommend the Kenneth Branagh HAMLET.  Because seriously?  All the others cut a lot of stuff out.  This is the only Hamlet movie with the WHOLE SCRIPT in it.  Yeah, it’s over 4 hours long.  But it’s 4 BRILLIANT hours.  And it’s out on DVD now, too.

We’ll talk more about why HAMLET is awesome another time.  For now, just take my word for it.  Here’s a quick snippet for you. 

Enter HAMLET, reading

O, give me leave:
How does my good Lord Hamlet?

Well, God-a-mercy.

Do you know me, my lord?

Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.

Not I, my lord.

Then I would you were so honest a man.

Honest, my lord!

Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be
one man picked out of ten thousand.

That’s very true, my lord.

For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a
god kissing carrion,–Have you a daughter?

I have, my lord.

Let her not walk i’ the sun: conception is a
blessing: but not as your daughter may conceive.
Friend, look to ‘t.

[Aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my
daughter: yet he knew me not at first; he said I
was a fishmonger: he is far gone, far gone: and
truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for
love; very near this. I’ll speak to him again.
What do you read, my lord?

Words, words, words.

What is the matter, my lord?

Between who?

I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here
that old men have grey beards, that their faces are
wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and
plum-tree gum and that they have a plentiful lack of
wit, together with most weak hams: all which, sir,
though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet
I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for
yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab
you could go backward.

[Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method
in ‘t. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

Into my grave.

Indeed, that is out o’ the air.


How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness
that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity
could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will
leave him, and suddenly contrive the means of
meeting between him and my daughter.–My honourable
lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.

You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will
more willingly part withal: except my life, except
my life, except my life.

3 responses on “Theatre Thursday: Hamlet, William Shakespeare”

  1. The library scene! I love Hamlet with a mad, crazy passion, and this scene is one of my favorites, seconded only by the gravediggers. Because they’re mind-bogglingly awesome.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

To respond on your own website, enter the URL of your response which should contain a link to this post's permalink URL. Your response will then appear (possibly after moderation) on this page. Want to update or remove your response? Update or delete your post and re-enter your post's URL again. (Learn More)