Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hamlet is like, so Emo...

True story.

I was on the Metro tonight on my way to see Henry IV (Part 1) at the Folger. I was reading a copy of Hamlet required for one of my classes when a teenage girl plops down in the seat next to me. She sees my book and asks "Oh, are you reading Romeo & Juliet?" First of all, I still have to remind myself to get over the shock of people actually talking to you on the train here, but that's another story. After I managed to collect myself, I answered, "No, I'm reading Hamlet."

"Oh, cool. So how is it?"

I wanted to reply "It's only one of the greatest plays of the English language." But instead I said. "It's pretty good. Ya know..."

"Cool. So I hear Hamlet's like totally Emo."

"What now?"

"Emo. Hamlet's totally Emo, I hear."

"Hmm. Now what does that mean exactly?"

"Ya know. Dark, depressed, acts kinda crazy."

"Oh. Well then, yes. That's right. Hamlet is totally Emo," I confirmed.

Then she wanted to know what had happened in the story so far. I really wanted to get back to my reading but was so taken with her interest I led her through some of the plot points: the ghost, Hamlet revenging his father's death, Gertrude marrying Claudius, the players, Hamlet killing Polonius, Ophelia going nuts over it, etc. "Wow," my new friend replied. "I should read it."

"Yeah," I said, "you should."

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At 12:57 PM, Blogger judy said...

Good for you, Mikey! Your first teaching this story. There's hope for the youth of America yet. Though, if you'll pardon the cynicism, I think this kid was "a cut above"....kind of like my grand-daughter.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger LSL said...

Very fun. I never thought of Hamlet as Emo . . .

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Jimmy said...

Hmmm, To be awesome or to be emo, that is my question.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Todd HellsKitchen said...


At 9:36 AM, Blogger libhom said...

Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew are the only Shakespeare plays I've seen or read that I didn't like. I've never understood peoples' fascination with the play. Everything seems either trite or obvious.

It makes me wonder if Shakespeare actually wrote all the plays. It's tough to understand how the author of King Lear and Macbeth could have written Hamlet.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Libhom, actually I prefer Macbeth and Lear to Hamlet, too. Mainly it's the character of Hamlet I'm not crazy about. He's well...too "Emo".

As for authorship, this is a subject that has been hotly debated by scholars for years. Some of Shakespeare's plays are pretty consistent from the original Folio and/or Quarto, but in Hamlet there are up to 1,000 lines that have some kind of variation in them from version to version. What we read today is a kind of "best of" version put together by Scholars and Editors.


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