Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rating : 3.0/5
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge, Guardian 100 Greatest Books of all Time

Possibly the greatest and most famous of Shakespeares plays. I saw this play on stage many years ago, but have never read it. Reading it I found so many famous quotes in it that I had forgotten about. The basic story follows Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and his family. His father, the King, died of a snake bite and only two months later his mother married his uncle who is now the King. His father's ghost appears and reveals that he was really murdered, he was poisoned by Hamlet's uncle.

Running parallel are the Lord Chamberlain Polonius and his son Laertes and daughter Ophelia. Ophelia and Hamlet have a bit of a thing going and he has given her to believe that they will marry. On finding out about his uncle, Hamlet looses the plot a little and starts to go a bit mad. He takes out his anger at his mother remarrying so soon on innocent Ophelia who he treats appalingly and breaks off ties with. He also accidentally kills Polonius. Hamlet is shipped off to England to calm down and while he is away Ophelia goes mad herself and drowns. On returning to Denmark Hamlet doesn't realise a plot has been made between Laertes and his uncle to kill him. He is invited into a play fencing match with Laertes who has dipped his foil in very potent poison. Just in case he doesn't scratch Hamlet, his uncle is on stand by with a poisoned drink for him (just how many times can you kill one man).

As this is possibly the best known tragedy you can be fairly certain everyone will end up dead! Unfortunately I didn't really sympathise with Hamlet apart from his mother remarrying. He was pretty aweful to Ophelia and his mother (he really should have raised his concerns with her before she married). I enjoyed it on the whole, but it doesn't come close to King Lear or Macbeth for me.


Ana S. said...

I know the story of this play quite well from numerous films and retellings, but I haven't actually read it. I need to amend that one of these days, even if it's not one of his best.

soleil said...

i agree about king lear. i took a shakespeare class in college because i loved the idea of just reading all shakespeare. we read eleven plays in one semester. king lear was one of my favorites. measure for measure was one of my least favorites. i read julius caesar three times in high school and i have always loved that one too.

Shauna said...

I have yet to read King Lear, but hope to get to it one day. I find Hamlet grows on you the more you read it. I didn't really like it when I read it in highschool (I thought Macbeth was better because it has some hilarious lines and is fun for a tragedy), but after rereading it twice since then, I like it a lot more. Here's the little blurb I wrote about the last reread: http://booklistreview.blogspot.com/2008/10/school-book-hamlet.html