Ken Moten's Reviews > Hamlet

Hamlet by William Shakespeare
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's review
Nov 08, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, shakespeare-stuff, plays
Recommended for: Humans, Fishes, Flowers, people contemplting murdering their next-of-kin for the throne/CEO position
Read in January, 2009 — I own a copy , read count: Not enough!

From November 2012:
(Well it is the weekend and I have nothing to do so it is time I finally get around to reviewing "the big one")

I think all of us has a favorite Shakespeare play. Often, we consider said play to also be considered the best of his plays hands-down. I usually take such claims with the typical grain of salt because I know the subjectiveness that even the most objective fan can have.
But I will make a confession, I am no better than any of these people and when asked of the best the Bard had to offer I will gladly point to his epic about The Prince of Denmark. Now I will have to argue why I think this is, objectively speaking, the best Shakespeare play ever made.

This is the magnum opus of the stage, in my opinion, simply because every human experience can be found or at some level understood through this play. Now I could list other things that make this play great, but you can easily find those things in all of Shakespeare's plays, good and bad. Because this is a tragedy you will find that all but one person will be left standing, no "good" character that is not a simple sidekick will be spared, women (evil or otherwise) are screwed, young people are screwed, and all evil/asshole characters will be punished only after destroying the "heroic" character...this is all typical Shakespeare. As standard of all long-form Shakespeare plays (this being the longest) we will have the majority of characters giving standard to extended length monologues/soliloquies which shed light on their psychological/mental being, there will be sizable amounts of named incidental characters that you could easily write-out without destroying the overall plot (this play has two of the most famous of those characters), a central theme is being expressed outright or is being hidden below the surface of a more than-acceptable theme, meta-allusions to the art of the theater, and as is standard in all Shakespeare plays dirty jokes (i.e. dick/vagina) abound and are at least a fourth of the dialogue in Hamlet overall. These things are to be expected in every Shakespeare play and I can almost guess the plot to any of his plays by looking out for these and similar attributes that his work has.

But what makes this play stand out is how I never can stop finding new things in it. I can view this play happy, sad, neutral, and otherwise and I still see something new that I could not see before; it is the closes we may have to a modern "revealed" text. I feel that almost every character in this play is in the world we live in right now. And every age can be found in this play.

Of late, I have gotten into the habit of quoting dialogue or verse in my reviews to demonstrate or dissect the work that I am reviewing. But how do I do that here, in a play in which the dialogue and parts of the work are known by heart to people who have maybe never even heard of Shakespeare or at least never heard of Hamlet. Even if that were not the case I find that no matter what page of dialogue I turn to, I do not know what to use. So if I have the very unpleasant choice of picking a "favorite" line of dialogue from this play...alas it can't be done. If I try to fit one quote I will have to fit all quotes! So this review sort of breaks the trend of quoting within a review for me.

One also notices that I have talked of this play but not about it. This is related to my above difficulty with picking quotes for the play. I am not afraid of spoiling this play but I don't feel that my feeble mind can do it justice [right now] and my love for it is so that if I can't raise it up completely I will let the play speak for itself and simply say SEE IT, if you have not seen it keep reading this review until I have made my recommendations than immediately get off of goodreads and WATCH IT. You can have text to follow along with it, but this play has to be watched and then, as I have, find the text that is most suited for you and go into the play again.

Now forgive me but I will cheat in this section by simply posting some of my post from the Shakespeare group that I belong in to advise on the versions of the play I saw and then in the next paragraph I will talk about the book/script of this play that I posses.

"...I first sought it out when I first went to college. I saw the adaption with Mel Gibson available on the internet and while the story had me intrigued I went ahead and did research, etc. and found out that it was an abridged adaptation. So I did next logical thing and brought the Kenneth Branagh version which is the complete unabridged one, which for me was 4 hours of awesome." Now to help qualify and expand on my quote I would recommend to newcomers to check out the the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2011 adaption with David Tennant than if you want the full unabridged play go ahead with the Kenneth Branagh version. This play has had countless adaptions and interpretations over the centuries.

The book I own is a reprinting of the script used by the RSC and it also comes with not just a detailed study of the play (including scene-by-scene analysis), but a detailed analysis on the history of the various performances of the play and Shakespeare himself (and more!) so you can imagine how excited I was just to find out this book exist but the supplements made this book an early Christmas gift for me(given the low price I was able to get for this book).

In the end I am certain I will see many plays that will captivate my imagination but no play will stay with and in me and through me like this play has.

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Quotes Ken Liked

William Shakespeare
“Conscience doth make cowards of us all.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“Brevity is the soul of wit.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

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

William Shakespeare
“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 is this quintessence of dust?”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“Listen to many, speak to a few.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“I must be cruel only to be kind;
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“A little more than kin, a little less than kind.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
Ophelia: No, my lord.
Hamlet: DId you think I meant country matters?
Ophelia: I think nothing, my lord.
Hamlet: That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
Ophelia: What is, my lord?
Hamlet: Nothing.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“[I] must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
tags: honor

William Shakespeare
“If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

William Shakespeare
“HAMLET [...] we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table; that's the end.
CLAUDIUS Alas, alas.
HAMLET A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
CLAUDIUS What dost thou mean by this?
HAMLET Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Reading Progress

04/22/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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s.penkevich Marvelous review. This is the second time in two days someone has brought up Hamlet and made me really, really want to re-read it. I'll have to do so soon.
Also, have you read the play or seen the film to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead:
Great metafictional stuff there, I think you would enjoy. And now I HAVE to see the 2011 adaption you mention, even if just for David Tennant.

message 2: by Ken (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ken Moten My review of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; thank you for your comments, I had a moderate headache while writing the review so I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.

Hend Mous'ad Muhammad Macbeth and Hamlet are ma favorites

message 4: by Ken (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ken Moten Whenyou think about it both plays share a very similar theme of the wicked quest for absoloute power. In Hamlet we see the title character react to having the king murderd and his throne took, but in Macbeth we are given the view from the evil pupetrator himself as he takes the thrown. Good observation Hend!

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