that line is literally the foundation of my thesis
that line is literally the foundation of my thesis
meagan you are too good 2 me. TOO GOOD FOR ME. this is perfect, let’s ship hamlet/horatio and cry about act 5 sad dirtbag trash hamlet forever
i hate him. “we defy augury” dont royal we me now you fucker. can’t handle any part of act v. can’t handle hamlet/horatio.
hamatio project runway au. hamlet gets faint a lot as he is High Strung and Under Pressure, horatio has to fan him awake at some points with spare yards of poplin, the producers keep trying to push a hamlet/ophelia Intrigue Subplot in the show and they go along w/ it bc hamlet and ophelia are Good Buds and dated once, meanwhile hamlet and horatio are holding hands in the background of every shot. osric is tim gunn. polonius is michael kors probably, and everything is a disaster.
ive always thought the most revealing line hamlet says about himself (besides “o, what an ass am i”) is the “o i could be bounded in a nutshell and call myself king of infinite space, if it were not that i have bad dreams” bit. because it outlines his Problem so simply, or maybe just because it always feels to me like my problem. “i could do anything, i could do anything i wanted to or that anyone else wanted me to, if i wasn’t hecked up from the neck up”
TALK MORE DIRTBAG HAMLET TO ME MEAGAN
did u kno that: shakespeare had a lot of fanboys in cambridge & oxford around the time hamlet was written, so there’s stuff that’s probably refs to them in bits (“do the boys carry it away?” etc). my prof was dismissive of the idea of a bieber fever-esque attitude towards shakes by college dudes but i am totally and completely sold on it entirely. I choose to be sold on it. I choose to accept this. There’s totally Real Evidence too, like there’s this play that was performed at St. John’s College, Cambridge, in the winter of 1599/1600 called The First Return from Parnassus where this one character is teased a bunch about how much he Loves Shakespeare. and that person says “O sweet Master Shakespeare, I’ll have his picture in my study at the court!” me too buddy.
anyway speaking of college influences, one thing that’s really interesting to me is the number of ways we get to the name “hamlet.” like there’s the first obvious connection between “hamlet” and “hamnet,” the name of shakespeare’s recently dead and only son. and there’s the man that hamnet was named after, hamnett sadler, whose name was sometimes spelled (including in mr. s’s will) as “hamlett.” after that the legend of hamlet from scandinavia seems almost secondary, but like the basic plot structure is drawn totally from that so you know Ok Fair Enough.
but. BUT!!!! the most interesting source of the name hamlet that would have been familiar to shakespeare is one that furthers my ophelia agenda, the case of Katherine Hamlett.
Katherine Hamlett, a young unmarried woman living in Stratford, drowned in December 1579 while filling a pail of water, and they had to hold an inquest in order to give her a Christian burial, so we actually have like this whole tiny little legal battle over it,
the aforesaid Katherine, standing on the bank of the same river, suddenly and by accident slipped and fell into the river aforesaid, and there, in the water of the same river … was drowned, and not otherwise nor in other fashion came by her death…
so now we have three hamlets before us — a hamlet who is a legend, a hamlet who is a young boy neglected by his father and dead much much too young, and a hamlet who is a young woman who drowns in a river (a hamlet whose death was doubtful.) Some scholars dismiss the hamnet/hamlet connection, but I think that something like the death of your son could certainly influence your work, and Shakespeare was never a great stickler when it came to spelling. even in just these three instances of the name this picture of conflicting persons that is our eventual dirtbag trashprince.
unlike hamlet’s legendary forebearer, amleth, he doesn’t win (like, just looking over the plot summary of the legend, after he gets back from England shit goes down way differently). unlike hamnet shakespeare, it’s the son who is left to grieve, and as for katherine hamlet, her story is transposed onto one of the two women closest to hamlet. I’d argue (and have argued) that ophelia is as much a foil to hamlet as laertes is, and for me this helps confirm that my theory isn’t just me being Weird, it’s there in the text somewhere even if unintentionally.
there’s also this idea (re: the “Ur-Hamlet” text , which i think if it existed, was probably primarily written by Shakespeare and not Kyd, but its not like high levels of collaboration didn’t happen in other cases so im not sure if it Matters) that the play was first composed like a whole decade earlier and revised and revised until we get the Hamlet. Hamlet’s already a play with fragmented texts (the “bad quarto,” the later versions of hamlet that would almost supersede shakespeare’s text for a time like davenant’s hamlet, the fact that the damn thing is so long you gotta cut it if you wanna play it) and adding another decade onto the creation of it furthers the complexity of constructing a “pure” text. There is no “pure” text, just like there isn’t a “definitive” Hamlet —- because I don’t think Hamlet knows what a definitive Hamlet would look like. and i think i mean the play and the character but definitely the character. There’s the Hamlet Hamlet is in private moments alone like in 2.3 (“But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall/To make oppression bitter”) but also the Hamlet in private moments with people he trusts (i mean horatio) (i just mean horatio). There’s Court Hamlet and College Bud Hamlet and Shitty Boyfriend Hamlet and probably also Pirate Hamlet because that fuckin happened, there’s the Ponderous Philosopher of “to be” and Ophelia’s “the expectancy and rose of the fair state, / the glass of fashion and the mold of form.”
And this is why Hamlet is great and also totally like nineteen or something — everyone sees him differently, everyone wants him to be a different Hamlet.
I’m not even sure if Hamlet’s the really indecisive one (okay okay he totally is) or if the world around him is what’s indecisive. You should mourn like this, no you should mourn like this, no you shouldn’t mourn any more, be faithful to your father (but who is his father — claudius or old hamlet?) (i mean that in the metaphorical “our chiefest courtier cousin and our son” way not in a conspiracy theory way), be faithful to your king (but who is king and who should be king), here is what you have to do, no here is what you have to do, murder is wrong but vengeance is right and in order to have revenge you must murder, its “prompted to revenge by heaven and hell” because he doesn’t know which one. Prince Hamlet is a bottle of carbonated anxieties and brain problems and high drive and higher expectations that someone decided to shake up. Also: he is Trash.
WHAT I’M SAYING IS —- Shakespeare was writing to appeal to a late teen/early adult demographic, and he knocked it outta the park.
a lot of productions of hamlet proceed with the idea that hamlet is thirty years old, or use that as justification for casting clearly middle age actors in the role (olivier, branagh, gibson, tennant, etc etc ad nauseum — the closest i can think to actually capturing College Hamlet age-wise is ethan hawke’s? i dont know how old the actor is there but he doesn’t look Super Middle Age).
and like, this is a thing that has textual support. in 5.1, the gravedigger scene, one of the gravediggers says he’s had his job since the day Old Hamlet defeated Fortinbras, the same day Hamlet was born.
A few lines later he says “Why, here in Denmark, I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.” (5.1.152) The gravedigger identifies Yoricks skull as having “lien you i’ th’ earth three and twenty years” (5.1.163), further solidifying the chronology present.
BUT. But. Hamlet’s a college student. Like, even in Renaissance England you usually weren’t in college at thirty (unless you came at it later in life, maybe, or were staying in college for upper level degrees, etc, same as now). Edward de Vere, to give a contemporary example, was admitted to Gray’s Inn, a sorta law school if I’m reading it right, at seventeen. Southampton (possible Fair Youth dude) started at Cambridge at 12 and graduated at 17. Marlowe got his BA at twenty, Thomas Nashe (another playwright and friend of Shakespeare) got his at 19 (and woulda possibly gone on to get an MA — since he was still in the college the year after — but got kicked out possibly?). You could start later, you could stay later, you might get more than one degree, etc etc. I’m offering up this comparison mainly to show that thirty isn’t just an atypical age for a college student now (unless you’re becoming an academic professionally or starting school late or coming back to school after an absence, etc), but also for a college student not planning on some sort of academic career then.
"what about students at the actual university of wittenberg meagan," you might be asking. "hmm??? HMMMMM????" Well, it seems to me more likely that Shakespeare would use the matriculation & graduation dates of his colleagues as reference points, and it’s unlikely he would have even. Done the thing that I’m doing now since knowing what Standard College Age was would be a thing just intuitive to someone like Shakespeare who was actually like. Living in Renaissance England but sure. Martin Luther (a little earlier but Famous so) graduated for the first time in 1508, when he was 25. Erasmus Alberus started there at 18, tho I don’t see his graduation date (which may be because he was involved w/ the school for a while). Johann Richter (a Math Dude) was at Wittenberg from 1557 to (presumably cause he moved) 1562, 20 -25.
Second reason Hamlet’s not really thirty —- he’s not married. Which isn’t to say that some people in the 16th/early 17th century never got married, or that some didn’t get married until much later in life, but for the only son of a king to be unmarried at thirty is a different matter entirely. To give some additional contemporary examples, James I was married at 23, Christian IV (the actual king of Denmark at this time) married at 20, Henry IV of France at 19, Philip III of Spain at 21, etc. There are other examples that contradict this trend (the current HRE got married at 38 for instance) but like, it seems slightly out of the ordinary for Hamlet to not be married at 30, even if some kings/heirs didn’t get married until later, and even if the election system of Denmark changes a bit how succession lines work.
Third reason Hamlet’s a shitty grad student trash prince — this kid is not thirty. I really hope this kid is not thirty. He often (to me) seems somewhat immature, and full of the arrogance & assumption of invincibility that comes with youth. Most of all, his thought process in the play resonates with a lot of anxieties about family, religion, death, and mental illness that young adults (me, 22 yr old, included) have. probably just because of personal experience tho. He doesn’t seem like an Adult, like a fully grown fully mature person — and while I at twenty two would consider myself to be adult (in that I have the responsibility, legally and morally, to try and act in certain ways in certain situations etc) I wouldn’t consider myself a fully grown person.
"OKAY MEAGAN," you say, pacing about your chambers, scattering yr own extensive collection of university graduates in England in the late 16th century about the room, "THEN WHY THE HECK WOULD HE SPECIFICALLY SAY THAT HAMLET WAS THIRTY. THAT SEEMS LIKE MORE THAN OVERSIGHT." And!!! I have a very simple explanation for you:
Because Burbage was playing Hamlet. Because Burbage was the only one who could play Hamlet.
Burbage was the best actor in Shakespeare’s company and the lead in many of his other plays. Burbage was also 32 in 1599 and 35 in 1602, and the play was likely written/performed for the first time somewhere in there. Dude was not gonna pass as someone between the ages of 16/17 and 22/23, like there’s suspension of disbelief and all but if you’re writing a part for a guy and the guy’s 32 you might as well just write in that the character’s 30, cause fuck it, you know? It’s practical, and who cares, and better that than the audience going “the fuck this dude is nineteen” or your dude going “im not fucking playing this kid” this is good shit you’re writing, a little detail shouldn’t impede it.
I know I’m not the first to make this argument (it occurred to me, this argument, and then i went you know what ppl have been arguing on this one for around four hundred years someone’s said this before) but I wanted to make it anyway.
Clearly we should settle for a happy medium age-wise, between the lower boundary of 16/17 and the upper boundary of 30.
Say, like, 22.
Excerpt from the original post: While it will still center on the stories of marginalized people from all walks of life, from all over the world, we want to specifically focus on a group who often have the least agency, and are too casually dismissed, condescended to or ignored: children. Though not a typical “Young Adult”-style book, we want young people to be able to more easily see themselves within these stories – to see the hard truths of history as it was experienced by the young. Therefore, all protagonists in Long Hidden 2 stories will be under 18 years of age.
i was trying to make a list of all the people in elizabethan/jacobean england that had romantic/sexual relationships with a person of the same gender (that we know about), and im pretty sure the short answer is just, everyone. probably like every person whose name you read in a history textbook about that period, or a literary history of that period, just everyone. all of them.