O what a noble play is here o’rethrown: Act One
I honestly intended to do this whole thing as like a liveblog, with additional angry screeds at the end, but taking a look at the notes I left in the ebook whilst reading -
- I wasn’t in a place to form a coherent sentence, much less a “”“”review.”“”“
All right so. Let’s … do this? Warnings from here on out for homophobia, child abuse and molestation, and some seriously fucked up family shit.
We start out before the events of the play, when we find out that Hamlet is going to study at Heidelberg - and yes I have no clue why “Heidelberg” instead of “Wittenberg.” Yes I looked it up. No there’s no connection. Hamlet’s fourteen at this point, but before Card gets on with the show and walks him through his time at
Wittenberg Heidelberg, we flash back to some choice daddy angst.
“But gradually it became clear to Hamlet that Father, with his infinite knowledge and wisdom, had judged his only son and found him permanently wanting. It began when Hamlet was six, playing with his Companions … “
Please note the capitalization on “Companions” because that’s never a thing that stops happening. Same thing with “King,” no matter what context he’s using the word “king” in, i.e. he does it even when not referring to the name of one specific person, like “King Claudius is straight up pimpin” or “the King is getting it on with Gertrude” but also when just like, “a King is a really important thing let me mansplain the purpose of a King.”
It gets really fucking annoying.
yadda yadda okay so Polonius comes up to Hamlet and the Hamlettes and grabs Horatio to take along on a hunt that a bunch of the bros are going on. Hamlet is pouty cause his daddy (sorry, his Daddy) doesn’t love him.
Afterwards, Hamlet comes across Horatio crying in a corner near the stables, and this conversation ensues:
“I [Horatio] saw a hart and two hinds astraddle the horses … the Earl of Jutland killed them all …”
“Father didn’t kill any of them?” asked Hamlet.
“We got lost,” said Horatio.
Oh no. No you’re not -
“We didn’t rejoin the hunt until on the way home.”
No, no no.
“You must have been sorry, though, to miss the kill.”
Horatio almost sobbed again. “I was very sorry to miss it,” he said, as soon as he had control of his emotions again.
Okay, no maybe I’m reading, too much into this? Maybe I just -
But as the months and years went by, and all the other boys were taken on hunts and other expeditions, and Hamlet never … Whatever it is that Father valued in a boy, Hamlet did not have it.”
STOP THE FUCKING TRAIN I WANT TO GET OFF.
i need a drink.
… okay. okay. We’re back. Okay.
Hamlet goes on for a while to explain how his dad never loved him, how his dad treats Claudius like a fool, and, for some reason, Card is very clear on the point that Hamlet is The Best Ever at swordfighting.
But by the time Hamlet began to get his growth ( D : ) at age thirteen, Claudius was as strong and sturdy a man, as fine-looking, as sharp-minded as any lord. As the King himself. Or perhaps stronger, sturdier, finer-looking, and sharper-minded than the King. To Hamlet, long used to his father’s public disdain of him, Uncle Claudius seemed more kingly than the King.
Hamlet, it seems, is not very fond of the King. Or his, appearance? Which is important? And weird, considering:
Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow;
Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
A combination and a form indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man:
This was your husband. Look you now, what follows:
Here is your husband; like a mildew’d ear,
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Thats from The Bedroom Scene with Hamlet and Gertrude. But, whatever. That’s not exactly the worst of Card’s offenses here so like, let’s move on with our lives.
Hamlet goes on to whine some more about his Daddy, and then he has a conversation with Laertes (also one of his Companions) that sucks but at the end there’s this -
Hamlet watched him, thinking two things:
Why is there no one I can talk to about the things that matter most to me?
How beautiful he is.
Ah. So. We’re going to keep going with that then. Past Meagan?
Hamlet, throughout his childhood, it seems, had ulcer-inducingly pretentiously dull conversations with Yorick, the Court Jester/Skull Of Import. They include zingers like this fucking gem:
“How can wisdom go into soap, since soap is full of lyes?”
“Sometimes to lie is wise.”
“And sometimes to ask why is a lie,” said Yorick. “So lies are wise and whys are lies.”
The last time Hamlet sees his father alive, the narration dramatically tells us, is when Hamlet is swordfighting and totes kicking ass at it cause he’s the best at swordfighting do you get it do you get it HES REALLY GOOD WITH SWORDS GUYS I SWEAR.
“My lord Father,” said Hamlet, falling to one knee.
“Oh get up,” said Father. “Why should a servant waste time washing those leggings because you had to kneel in the mud?”
stunning character development
Father King Man is there to tell Hamlet he’s going to
Wittenberg Heidelberg and no you can’t take any of your little friends with you now get out of my face. Laertes goes to Hamlet and begs Hamlet to get him sent off with him, or somewhere - anywhere - away from Elsinore. Hamlet decides to go to his Mother Queen Lady, where he explains yo, my bro here wants to go to France.
So she hadn’t known that his Companins were being taken directly into the King’s own guard. And when he explained it, she frowned and reached out a hand to Laertes. “One would have thought,” she said to the boy, “that you served him well enough already.”
im gonna hurl.
Claudius emerges from the curtains once Laertes leaves, cause he and Gertrude were
doin it discussing matters of political import. There’s another physically painful Philosophical Conversation About Politics.
Spoilers there are a shitton of those all through the book.
As for our young Prince’s time in Wittenberg Heidelberg, we’re told that it’s “the happiest time of his life” which we’re going to take Card’s word for, because we quickly skim over four-or-five years in which Hamlet studied and fell in love with books and would have gone into the Church if he wasn’t Prince -
look. We get it, Card. Every single one of your heros has to be
2. Physically adept to the point of exceptionalism
3. Freakishly smart.
5. So well read that adults and people much higher up than them bend over backwards to praise them.
6. ~~~~~DADDY ISSUES~~~~~~
7. Interested in religion and spiritual matters in a terrible purposefully high brow above-it-all pretentious way.
We get it. You don’t have to do this ag -
“I know of no man readier to be a King,” said the professor. “Plato once longed for a King like you, who was a philosopher first. We are Christians; we want our Kings to be philosophers and saints … You bested the finest swordsmen in Heidelberg, who made a point of provoking you in the public houses.”
All right, no, go ahead. We’ll catch up with you when you’re done slobbering all over your favorite character template.
Spoilers, Hamlet gets a message that his Father King Man Father of Kingship is totes dead, and he’s gotta hightail it back to Elsinore. On his way back he gets another message, this one informing him Claudius is a. King b. banging his Mom. This makes Hamlet think about
what a babe how young his mother is, and say shit that will rankle straight up get to rankling the fuck outta your feathers, like
But Mother? Hamlet had never thought of her as ambitious. She had endured Father’s slighting treatment of her for all of Hamlet’s life. He always thought that it was for his sake that she lived; it had never occurred to him that she might have loved being Queen so much that she cared little who sat on the throne, as long as she sat beside him.
You’re right, Hamlet. Your mother could not possibly have any other reason for living than your sorry ass, and there’s no reason she might want to marry Claudius besides pure fucking ambition - God forbid that you consider she might be trying to keep herself and you safe in a dangerous political climate, or that she might, oh no, love Claudius?
No fucking perish the thought.
That takes us up to Hamlet’s arrival in Elsinore and, with it, the beginning of the actual play.
God help us all.
All ratings are assigned on a scale of one to ten Branaghs.
Portraying dynamic family relationships:
Skeezing me the fuck out:
41 Notes/ Hide
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- isozyme said: Heidelberg. /Heidelberg./ Orson Scott Card DID YOU READ THIS PLAY. Upon further recap, NO.
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