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Pink | 6554 comments This is the discussion thread for Hamlet by William Shakespeare, our Old School Classic Group Read for September 2018.

Spoilers allowed here.

Please feel free to discuss anything you wish, relating to the book and let us know what you thought :)

Pink | 6554 comments Hamlet has been a recent buddy read in our group, if you wish to see the previous discussion it can be viewed here

message 3: by Katy, New School Classics (new)

Katy (kathy_h) | 9808 comments Mod
Looking forward to a continued discussion on Hamlet

message 4: by Paula W (last edited Sep 09, 2018 02:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paula W | 567 comments I just finished this. AGAIN. And I still think it might be the best thing ever written.

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2058 comments With this .and Kind Lear I have read two tragedies now.. I need to read some comedy by him.

Petrichor | 300 comments This an amazing play.
I like that Hamlet, although he believed the ghost, looked for proof (or what passed for proof back then) for his uncle's guilt and managed to probe the latter's conscience using the performers.
I'm disappointed by the misogyny, though, showing the two most important female characters as feeble creatures.

I have to say that it really helped to watch the play performed (the 1990 movie with Mel Gibson, unfortunately in translation) before reading the original play. With old plays like these I often feel it's easier to grasp the meaning of the sentences if they are performed rather than read.

If there is anyone else who has problems grasping the meaning of the famous "to be or not to be" line, watch this sketch with Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Laurie :-D

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2058 comments Thanks for the video Petrichor. 😂

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

To read or not to read, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous English, or to take arms against a sea of characters,
And by opposing end them?

message 9: by Vicki (last edited Sep 16, 2018 12:29PM) (new)

Vicki Cline 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished (that is, to read). (corrected)

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Sadie  Jo (sadiejo) | 1 comments I have always been afraid of reading Shakespeare, so I’m very glad we are reading Hamlet this month. I love watching Shakespeare in the park and now I appreciate it even more. The book I have has excellent commentary which helped me understand Shakespeare’s writing and I am thoroughly enjoying each scene. It’s one of my favorite plays- it’s hard to pick even a favorite character or scene, but I do like the scene/act when the king’s ghost first appears to the night watchmen and then to Prince Hamlet. I had no idea this was placed in Denmark.

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Joseph Fountain | 293 comments I have in quick determination thus set it down: that I enjoyed Hamlet more than any other play I've read by Shakespeare. (full disclosure: I've got a way to go yet; I've read 4 comedies and three tragedies + plus all his poetry). So yeah, this is my favorite.

Oh and...Yay! I think this was the first time I read the group selection in the actual month it was selected.

My full review of Hamlet: https://100greatestnovelsofalltimeque...

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Mavis (balabubububu) | 2 comments Revisiting Hamlet reminds me why it has always been one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. (and a midsummer-nights dream)
The book I had includes a commentary that I believe described why it is so unforgettable a classic:

" Had Hamlet himself been a less sensitive soul, had love and grief and ideals been to him only seeming, he might have retained his balance and acted instantly in revenge, thus avoiding the widespread consequences of the sin of Claudius and Gertrude. As he is, however, he is the more terrible. It is the dynamic and explosive effect of Hamlet's character in its reaction to the sin of others that makes him perhaps the most terrible of all Shakespeare's tragic characters."

James (pepecamello) | 41 comments I haven't read much Shakespeare but Hamlet is my favorite. When I read it for the first time a few years ago, it immediately catapulted to my favorite work of all-time. I think there are just so many layers to it that add to analysis that make it interesting and then those layers can be focused on in performances so that they bring something different out each time.
Speaking of, does anyone have any favorite Hamlet movie versions? I've seen the Olivier and Branagh versions and liked both for different reasons. The modern one with Hawke (where "To be or not to be" is said in a Blockbuster) is corny and dumb but still has its merits. I still need to see the Gibson one which is probably next on my list.

Melanti | 2383 comments James wrote: I think there are just so many layers to it that add to analysis that make it interesting and then those layers can be focused on in performances so that they bring something different out each time..."

Yep! I've seen Hamlet several times, and each time, the director's interpretation of events has been slightly different.

It's one of my favorites by Shakespeare.

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments Mavis wrote: "Revisiting Hamlet reminds me why it has always been one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. (and a midsummer-nights dream)
The book I had includes a commentary that I believe described why it is so ..."

Hi Mavis. Excellent quote. What book did you did that quote from. I want to add it to Goodreads' quotes.

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments I was so glad that Tennant's version was made available on PBS Masterpiece. It was such at hit that PBS aired it numerous times. (I wish they would that with the Hollow Crown series.)

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Mavis (balabubububu) | 2 comments Cynda wrote: "Hi Mavis. Excellent quote. What book did you did that quote from. I want to add it to Goodreads' quotes."

Glad you liked it. This is the version I got:

message 18: by Leslie (last edited Oct 03, 2018 08:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leslie | 145 comments Finally got my copy from the library! I loved it. I need to watch a movie or two of it now. :-) I don't want to bore anyone, but as a Roman Catholic I loved the Catholicism in the play and as a history buff, enjoyed the sad nod back in time.

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Alia | 228 comments I read it on over the summer, and am rereading it (well, a translation of it) right now.

Guess it's not too surprising that I feel bad for Ophelia. She may have been smart enough to figure out what happened to her father.

The point about nothing being good or bad might apply here. The point doesn't seem to involve free will much, though. I'm sure everyone thinks It's bad when your boyfriends accidentally kills your father. And if you had a choice, would you think of your home country as a prison? So maybe it's feeling that makes it so.

It mirrors what happened to Hamlet's father. It devastates him for months and he gets all suicidal.

For some reason, when the king died, the new king was the king's brother and not his son. It's not the most distracting plot hole ever, but if Claudius was merely Regent while Hamlet came of age, I would have read it as the ghost being of Claudius's making. It seems to just be a ghost, that's why I think it's a plot hole.

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments I have read this play any number of times. At least 10 times. The power plays, the bickering personalities, the presentations of self, the betrayals all grip attention. As too usual in Shakespeare: The women pay. And for all those challenges of the characters, I keep showing up. Don't know what that means. May be best not to ask. Just read.

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments I have come to the slow conclusion that Shakespeare is calling attention to the difficulties of women.

message 22: by Cynda (last edited Nov 23, 2020 04:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments Reading Act 1
I have read criticism about how long it takes for Hamlet to take action. Yet it takes the whole of Act 1 for the ghost story to be told. So Hamlet has only 4 acts in which to seek revenge, not 5.

message 23: by Cynda (last edited Nov 23, 2020 05:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments Reading Act 2
Here family/household members plot against each other. Young Hamlet berates himself for not takkng action, yet he is not absolutely sure Claudius killed Old Hamlet. So he makes a plan with some thought and depth of understanding. If Young Hamlet will kill to avenge Old Hamlet, the Young Hamlet will need to be sure that his father was murdered and by whom. Now only 3 acts to seek revenge.

message 24: by Cynda (last edited Nov 26, 2020 08:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments Reading Act 3
Hamlet has got his proof that that Claidius has indeed killed Old Hamlet. Hamlet on the ascendent and Claudius on the descendent. Old Hamlet says that Young Hamlet is not acting fast enough, but Young Hamlet has just got his proof that very night. Also Hamlet has killed Polonius and plans to have Rosencrantz and Gildenstern killed. Claudius' death Hamlet has tried--but King at prayers which means that Hamlet would dispatch Claudius to Heaven, not the result Hamlet seeks. One murder thwarted, another completed, and two well planned. The righteousness of Hamlet is on the ascendent.
Now 2 more acts left in which to kill Claudius.

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments Reading Act 4.
Hamlet more n the Ascendent. He has had Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed. He returns to Denmark to kill Claudius. Hamlet is on a mission.

Claudius more on the Descendent. Claudius due to his intelligence or his desperation--or both--has made a reluctant ally of Laertes and has made a plan of a murderous sword fight.

We know Claudius and Laertes' plans. What oh what does Hamlet plan?

message 26: by Cynda (last edited Nov 27, 2020 01:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments Acts 4 and 5: Death as the Great Equalizer

When Death is understood to an anyday visitor, something to be afeared of and jeered of, people find ways to cope.

In Act 4 scene 3, Hamlet makes several jokes about the body of Polonius. The one about equality in death:

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.

Hamlet seems to be foretelling a possible future of Claudius, a future made possible by HamIet.

In Act 5, scene 1, Upon his return, Hamlet accompanied by Horatio encounter a gravedigger who with work-hardened humor jeers at corpses he must remove from graves so that he can refill graves with the newly dead. Hamlet comments on the nature of decaying corpses. After recognizing the decaying skull of Yorick the beloved court jester of Hamlet's youth, Hamlet starts going through tossed up corpses, wondering at them all, now indistinguishable they all are. Death is indeed the Great Leveller. (There is an exception and reference tk Shakeseare's own tanner father: Tanners last longer.)

message 27: by Cynda (last edited Nov 27, 2020 02:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynda  (cynda) | 3419 comments Act 5
Hamlet returns to Denmark with his aide and companion Horatio. At the graveside of Ophelia, Hamlet warns Laertes of dangers Hamlet brings back with himself. Later at Elsinore when finding opportunity to discuss plans, the friends talk in the intimate manner of friends with a plan.

Hamlet: You do remember all the circumstance?
Horatio Remember it, my lord! (How could he forget?!)

The comfortable conversation of Hamlet and Horatio is interrupted by Orsic who tells of a duel Claudius has organized. So the plan alluded to at the beginning of Act 5 are put aside. All the rest follows quickly.

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