HAMLET by William Shakespeare

Hamlet coverTo like Hamlet or not like Hamlet, that is the question…

I have a confession to make: I’m not really a big fan of Shakespeare. Ever since first reading one of his works as a freshman in high school (Romeo and Juliet, naturally) I’ve had mixed feelings about the Bard. To be quite honest, none of the works I’ve read by him have really stuck with me in any meaningful way, probably because I haven’t felt a strong connection with any of the characters. There’s a part of me, though– that often annoying, pesky little voice that we all hear at one point or another– that insists that I should like Shakespeare. Some consider him the greatest playwright to have ever lived, and his works continue to entertain both readers and viewers and to influence our culture today.

Does my aversion to Shakespeare say something negative about my reading tastes? Does it somehow suggest that I’m unable to comprehend the brilliance of the Bard? What kind of uncultured swine am I?

In all seriousness, I feel as though sometimes people do judge me for my lack of interest in Shakespeare. I’ve learned to ignore it, though– he’s simply a writer, and as a reader I have the right to my own opinion about his work, whatever that opinion may be.

With all of that being said, let’s get down to the Hamlet business you came here for. I do understand the significance of this play, the reasons why it is so beloved and a popular favorite. Despite his apparent madness, Hamlet is undoubtedly a character to whom we can all relate with, at least to a certain extent. He’s indecisive and uncertain, thoughtful yet impulsive. Haven’t we all felt like Hamlet before, as if there are numerous paths we could take but they’re all shrouded in an opaque fog? I feel as though a flawed character is often easier to root for and connect with than a seemingly perfect one due to the obvious fact that none of us are without faults. 

The story itself was interesting at some points and rather slow during others. My favorite parts were those involving supernatural elements, such as the apparition of Hamlet’s father. The rest of the play was entertaining enough to keep me reading, but it didn’t blow me away at all. I think my problem with Shakespeare is that the language doesn’t really click with me, and it takes me  a while to figure out what he’s even trying to say. Perhaps I would enjoy his works more if I saw them performed rather than simply reading them on a page.

Overall, it’s clear that Hamlet is surely one of Shakespeare’s best works. Out of the few plays I have read by the Bard, it is one of my favorites. In the realm of my general bookish tastes, however, it’s not something that really appeals to me. I think it might warrant a reread in the future, but for now an ambiguous “see you later” will have to be enough.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) 3 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes. Apart from my own opinion of Shakespeare, I think Hamlet is still a worthwhile and valuable play to read. There are so many references to it in other works and even in our own modern culture (The Lion King, anyone?) that reading it is beneficial, at the very least.

What are your thoughts on Hamlet? Does anyone else share my lukewarm attitude toward Shakespeare? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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13 thoughts on “HAMLET by William Shakespeare

  1. I’m not the biggest fan of Shakespeare either, but I had to study Twelfth Night at school and I now love that play – it’s hilarious! I’ve been considering reading more Shakespeare for a while now but I kept forgetting about it. Thank you for reminding me!

    Also great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Shakespeare but having taught his plays for years, I have firsthand experience of the fact that a lot of people don’t. It’s not like he wrote the plays to be read from a book and studied, so sometimes it just doesn’t work. I like Hamlet a lot though; there’s a great 15 minute version by Tom Stoppard which is hilarious and worth looking out for. I think The Taming of the Shrew is one that works as something to read as well as to watch; there’s plenty to enjoy and get annoyed about in that. Thanks fo posting about Shakespeare; this made a really nice change on my feed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s probably my biggest problem with Shakespeare: I need to see or hear it performed in order to really understand it. It’s so frustrating because I WANT to love Shakespeare and I keep trying again hoping that something will click, but it never seems to completely work for me. I’ll definitely have to check out The Taming of the Shrew, though. Thanks so much for the recommendation! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha, in my school the judgement came if you WERE interested in Shakespeare! Lol. I like Shakespeare best when performed on stage, his stories are amazing and his jokes – although with language changes, I know we miss some of his intended meanings these days. But he’s certainly never light reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha yeah, my school was definitely on the nerdier side, which worked to my advantage 🙂 I think that if I saw them performed I would probably like Shakespeare’s plays more, so I’ll have to give it a go sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was like you until fairly recently (if around about this time last year counts as recent) but I was changed after watching an excellent documentary called ‘Muse of Fire’. It basically had me looking at Shakespeare in a whole new light. I wrote about it here https://bitsnbooks.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/muse-of-fire/ (sorry for the self promotion). It really is amazing.

    When I first started having to read Shakespeare for uni I really struggled, so I got audiobook versions of the plays and listened to those as I read along. It made a HUGE difference. His plays really are meant to be performed rather than read, and I think that’s where some people get stuck with him.
    Arkangel Shakespeare do great full cast productions of his plays – you can get them on Audible and iTunes. I’m going to start Richard VI soon and David Tennant is one of the actors in the audiobook I’m getting – I’m so excited about that.

    But you know what? If you don’t like Shakespeare, you don’t like Shakespeare. There’s no point forcing yourself into liking something – at least you tried!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Listening to the audio book versions is such a great idea! I’ll definitely have to try that the next time I read Shakespeare. And I think you’re right– Shakespeare just might not be my cup of tea! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think like Austen, Shakespeare was often speaking under the surface. I’m taking a class on him right now, and apparently he was quite awesome. He had to write in a way that would be “approved” by the king/queen’s censors, but would challenge the minds of the “common” folk who actually attended his plays. He was constantly challenging people to think beyond what they’d been told by the monarchy and other such higher-ups. (He was of humble background, too.)

    He wrote the way he did (difficult) so that he could get past the monarchs but still inspire people to think beyond the box — to challenge authority. I think Austen was doing the same thing. That’s why with both writers, more comes out the more you read. Only my thoughts though. Shakespeare didn’t expect people coming to his plays to “get” everything. He understaood his plays were difficult. His hope was more that something — even one thing — would inspire at least a few of them to stop just going along with the status quo, and start thinking. For example, Rosalind in As You Like It. She’s a strong female character — intelligent, straightforward, a leader. She challenges stereotypes about women simply by existing. So to understand Shakespeare (in my humble opinion), look at the characters and see what they might be challenging in the Renaissance era, by defying what playgoers would have expected. He often starts out appearing to support the status quo, then turns it upside down.

    Only a suggestion. I can’t recall what Hamlet might be challenging. I need to reread it. It’s been six years, & I only read it once! 🙂 Also, I never know what to say about SHakespeare when I read him. I feel like my entries are silly so I hardly ever say anything. I did write on The Taming of the Shrew once, because so many women hate that play, and I feel like he was completely being ironic there — and was in full support of women as intelligent equals. 🙂

    Anyway — another suggestion? Watch the films! 🙂

    Like

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