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Author Topic: Oh Orson Scott Card
TheRallanator
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So if you haven't heard, OSC decided a while back to do a rewrite of Hamlet that would make it clearer and more straightforward to modern audiences. And a publishing company has just drawn a whole lot of bad publicity for doing a limited edition reprint of Card's version for some reason or other.

Apparently in Card's Hamlet's Father, Hamlet's sole motive for pretty much everything is that his daddy and some of daddy's friends were gay pedophiles, and the whole story has been rewritten as the terrible cost that pedophiles (by which OSC means faggots) have on society. Everything that occurs in Hamlet is redone with the original motivations pretty much thrown out and replaced by "Hamlet does it because pedofags".

Not surprisingly, this has managed to annoy Shakepseare fans at least as much as it's annoyed the GLBT community.

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AI Wessex
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This *has* to be a joke. There is absolutely no textual basis for the twisted proposition underlying the rewrite. If OSC did this straight-facedly, then he is a sick man.
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Aris Katsaris
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This: http://www.hatrack.com/osc_responds_halmets_father.html is the response by OSC to the accusations.
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AI Wessex
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A non-response response. He didn't even take the limp-wristed route of saying he's sorry if you're offended. Obviously he sees nothing objectionable in what he did and believes that anybody who takes offense is not to be taken seriously. He's a good writer, but he's not "too talented to be sick".
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philnotfil
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From OSC's response:
quote:
Since my introduction to the book states that I was not remotely interested in Hamlet's "indecision and brooding" in Shakespeare's version of the story, I wonder how carefully the reviewer read the book. But the lie is this, that "the focus is primarily on linking homosexuality with ... pedophilia." The focus isn't primarily on this because there is no link whatsoever between homosexuality and pedophilia in this book. Hamlet's father, in the book, is a pedophile, period. I don't show him being even slightly attracted to adults of either sex. It is the reviewer, not me, who has asserted this link, which I would not and did not make.
quote:
Of Shakespeare's great tragedies, I love Lear and Macbeth; Othello at least I understand. But Hamlet? I have little interest in a dithering hero; nor am I much inspired by revenge plots. Yet I keep hearing that this is the greatest of them all.

So I analyzed the story to see what it would take to make me care about it. "Hamlet's Father" is what I came up with. I'm fully aware of the fact that I have just messed with the play that many consider the greatest ever written in any language. But Shakespeare stole his plots from other people; and nothing I do is going to erase a line of his great work or diminish his reputation in any way. So why not?

If you think it's blasphemous to fiddle with Shakespeare's work, then for heaven's sake don't read this story. I leave his version in shreds on the floor. But my body count is just as high, as long as you don't expect me to account for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I figure Tom Stoppard took care of them for all time.


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DonaldD
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Has anyone read the book?
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Greg Davidson
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I have not read his play, but I read his response and it actually sounds reasonable to me. Hamlet is an annoying play in some ways, and the notion that Hamlet was abused by his father (presuming that's where the story goes) actually would give both actors some very interesting material to interpret.
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AI Wessex
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"Hamlet is an annoying play in some ways..."

Can't help but ask, what ways?

"...the notion that Hamlet was abused by his father (presuming that's where the story goes) actually would give both actors some very interesting material to interpret."

Reinventing the premise of a great work of literature is not the same thing as reinterpreting the story in light of modern sensibilities. I'm one of Shakespeare's bigger fans [Smile] , and I can abide with modern staging (Ethan Hawke as a Wall Street Hamlet, for instance, or Leo DiCaprio as a 1950's Romeo). But I think the premise of OSC's reimagining Hamlet's predicament would be on a par with recasting Jesus as the son of Mary and Pontius Pilate and his "story" as all about trying to reconcile his Romanity with his Jewishness.

[ September 21, 2011, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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If the Gay Bacon Lettuce and Tomato society wasn't so self-righteous, they might notice a little book named "Songmaster ..."

OSC's shown actively gay characters and relationships in a highly sympathetic light, now there's a novel where some of them are villains.

The "heterosexual community" (which magically springs into existence ex nihilo every time the GLBT community wants to imagine a monolithic oppressor) didn't whine about the decades of HAMLET PRODUCTIONS IMPLYING A HETEROSEXUAL INCESTUOUS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HAMLET AND HIS MOTHER. (Gasp choke). If I dig far enough, I'm sure we could find that one of those productions was done by some gay producer or director. Should I shriek nefarious anti-hetero motives?

Look, we've been through the whole Panic of the Passion thing already and it didn't pan out. Why doesn't someone actually go read the book before you start bitching?

Edited to add: looks like Greg and Donald managed to make most of my points, more reasonably than I did.

[ September 21, 2011, 11:47 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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kmbboots
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"Songmaster" may have been a "sympathetic" characterizations, but they were also doomed ones. Acting on their love destroyed them. Show me a gay character with a happy ending.

When Card treats a homosexual relationship as he would a heterosexual one, that will be a "sympathetic" treatment of gay relationships.

[ September 21, 2011, 12:19 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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AI Wessex
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"HAMLET PRODUCTIONS IMPLYING A HETEROSEXUAL INCESTUOUS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HAMLET AND HIS MOTHER"

A reasonable conjecture given that there is an active relationship between Hamlet and his mother throughout the play. He chides her for seeming faithlessness to her dead husband, for which she feels some uneasiness (faithlessness toward her son?), and she chides him for not getting past his death (after all, one must move on from an intense sexual relationship once it ends). Everything in Shakespeare has an echo of other things. It's just that Hamlet's father being gay *isn't* in the work and nothing hints at it. Why not have an arch-Conservative write a play about Hamlet's father as a Socialist dictator? Oh wait, he was the King, so I guess he was.

"Should I shriek nefarious anti-hetero motives?"

Give it a shot. There could be lots to talk about. Got anything to say about dear Hamlet's gay daddy?

[ September 21, 2011, 01:50 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
From OSC's response:
quote:
Since my introduction to the book states that I was not remotely interested in Hamlet's "indecision and brooding" in Shakespeare's version of the story, I wonder how carefully the reviewer read the book. But the lie is this, that "the focus is primarily on linking homosexuality with ... pedophilia." The focus isn't primarily on this because there is no link whatsoever between homosexuality and pedophilia in this book. Hamlet's father, in the book, is a pedophile, period. I don't show him being even slightly attracted to adults of either sex. It is the reviewer, not me, who has asserted this link, which I would not and did not make.

This is an interesting claim for OSC to make, considering that he wrote this in 2004:

""the dark secret of homosexual society – the one that dares not speak its name – is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally."

(that statement was quoted in the review itself, which OSC was supposedly refuting). The reviewer also mentions that the molestation of three male characters by Hamlets father causes them to become homosexuals. Sorry Pete, but I'm going to pass on reading this one; OSC's weirdness on the gay issue was well established long before this. I've read most of his novels, and I can think of three major gay characters. One's homosexuality directly lead to misery, the other two were only able to find happiness by having heterosexual relationships despite their orientation. This is not a writer comfortable with homosexuality, to put it mildly.

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DonaldD
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Who was the third? (I am drawing a blank)
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Aris Katsaris
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Josif in Songmaster
Anton in the Shadow series
Zdorab in the Homecoming Saga

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
Josif in Songmaster
Anton in the Shadow series
Zdorab in the Homecoming Saga

Yup. Zdorab's "conversion" kinda worked in context. Anton's was a totally unnecessary insertion that was communicated to the reader through a long sermon by Anton on how you can never be happy unless you reproduce heterosexually. It doesn't get any more heavy-handed than that.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:


"Should I shriek nefarious anti-hetero motives?"

Give it a shot. There could be lots to talk about. Got anything to say about dear Hamlet's gay daddy?

Yes; I'd want to see it, before condemning it.

I think Hamlet is overrated anyway.

quote:
One's homosexuality directly lead to misery
Not accurate. It's not the homosexuality that leads to misery, but Emperor Michael's repressed homosexuality transformed by jealousy into homophobia.
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kmbboots
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Whatever. They had gay sex and it ruined them.
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DonaldD
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Did you mean Rikters, not Mikal?

At any rate, in the words of OSC himself:
quote:
What the novel offers is a treatment of characters who share, between them, a forbidden act that took place because of hunger on one side, compassion on the other, and genuine love and friendship on both parts. I was not trying to show that homosexuality was "beautiful" or "natural" -- in fact, sex of any kind is likely to be "beautiful" only to the participants, and it is hard to make a case for the naturalness of such an obviously counter-evolutionary trend as same-sex mating. Those issues were irrelevant. The friendship between Ansset and Josif was the beautiful and natural thing, even if it eventually led them on a mutually self-destructive path.
What might he have meant by a mutually self-destructive path? Certainly, there was no expectation on either Josif or Ansett's part that Rikters would go cracker dog (josif had been exclusively concerned about his own reactions and their effect on Kyaren).

That pretty much leaves the path of homosexuality as being mutually self-destructive. One cannot characterize purely coincidental 3rd party actions (such as Rikters' vengeance on Josif) as "mutually self-destructive"

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Whatever. They had gay sex and it ruined them.

No. [DOH] That would be like saying that poor kid in Wyoming was crucified by gay sex. Uh, no; it was the hate crime, dude.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
Did you mean Rikters, not Mikal?

Yes. Doesn't change the fact that my analysis was more cogent and relevant than OSC's own analysis.


quote:
The friendship between Ansset and Josif was the beautiful and natural thing, even if it eventually led them on a mutually self-destructive path.
-----
What might he have meant by a mutually self-destructive path? Certainly, there was no expectation on either Josif or Ansett's part that Rikters would go cracker dog (josif had been exclusively concerned about his own reactions and their effect on Kyaren).

That pretty much leaves the path of homosexuality as being mutually self-destructive.

Yes, but that's OSC's opinion as critic, not his work as writer.

If Rallan wants to bash OSC's critical opinions, great. But he want to bash OSC's writing, without reading it, that's awfully silly.

quote:
One cannot characterize purely coincidental 3rd party actions (such as Rikters' vengeance on Josif) as "mutually self-destructive"
Not reasonably, no. But ... this is an aspect of OSC that I disagree with, which has nothing to do with homosexuality. In his work subsequent to Enders' game (where Peter seems pretty Evil) OSC seems to see "great men" as above good and evil. Hence the revision of Peter in later works. Also, hence Rikters, Mikhan, Moozh, etc. They aren't good or evil; they are forces of nature. To piss one of them off is "self-destructive" in OSC's view. Like pissing on an electric socket. Song-boy should have known he was owned.
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Aris Katsaris
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Hate-crimes are destructive, but "self-destructive" implies that their own choices were at least partly to blame.

But of course once again OSC, when using those words, was speaking to an audience that was even more unwilling to tolerate gayness than he was, blah blah, -insert contextual blah blah blah justifications here- blah.

--

Edit to add: My comment was written before Pete's last one, where he comments on the usage of OSC's choice of words himself.

[ September 21, 2011, 06:02 PM: Message edited by: Aris Katsaris ]

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DonaldD
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What you seem to be ignoring is that Rikters has exactly zero free will, Pete [Smile] Whereas Matthew Shepard's attackers' stories were not written by anyone but themselves.

Although I think it would have been less contentious for kmbboots to have written: "Whatever. They had gay sex and they were ruined"

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
What you seem to be ignoring is that Rikters has exactly zero free will, Pete [Smile] Whereas Matthew Shepard's attackers' stories were not written by anyone but themselves.

The fact that OSC doesn't himself understand Rikters, makes me wonder if Rikters might have more free will than a pair of methed-to-the-gills homophobic hillbillies.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Whatever. They had gay sex and it ruined them.

No. [DOH] That would be like saying that poor kid in Wyoming was crucified by gay sex. Uh, no; it was the hate crime, dude.
Uh no. If I recall (and it has been awhile) the immediate cause of the ruin was the singer kid having an orgasm. The cause of Matthew Shepard's death was being beaten, tortured, left tied to a stake for 18 hours.

Donald, I have no problem with that rephrasing.

[ September 21, 2011, 06:11 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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DonaldD
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quote:
Yes. Doesn't change the fact that my analysis was more cogent and relevant than OSC's own analysis.

<snip>

Yes, but that's OSC's opinion as critic, not his work as writer.

Are you suggesting that OSC's interpretation of what he meant by his own writing is less accurate (cogent, relevant) than your interpretation?
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Pete at Home
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I'd say my explanations seems more believable and consistent with the story than Card's explanation.

That's a compliment to Card's storytelling capacity.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Whatever. They had gay sex and it ruined them.

No. [DOH] That would be like saying that poor kid in Wyoming was crucified by gay sex. Uh, no; it was the hate crime, dude.
Uh no. If I recall (and it has been awhile) the immediate cause of the ruin was the singer kid having an orgasm.
The cause of *that* harm was the medical tweaking that had been done on Ansset without warning him about the side effects. Ansset was entering puberty. A wet dream or a hetero encounter would have had the same result.

Was it really less than obvious that my comparison to Shephard was related to what Rikter did to Josif?

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kmbboots
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In the worlds that Card imagines, homosexual sex leads to bad. This does not make his models of homosexuality "sympathetic".
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
In the worlds that Card imagines, homosexual sex leads to bad. This does not make his models of homosexuality "sympathetic".

No, that aspect of his stories is obviously not what makes Josif sympathetic.

But is anyone who has actually read Songmaster, seriously going to say that Josif was not sympathetic?

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kmbboots
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josif was lovely. But he acted on his homosexuality and so ruined his friend and himself. How are you missing the "lesson" in that?

I did read it, just not recently.

[ September 21, 2011, 07:33 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Pete at Home
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I think you could make a far less goofy argument that Hart's Hope is a tract against heterosexuality, than that Songmaster's a message against homosexuality.

"How are you missing the "lesson" in that?"

Because I paid attention to the characters and the story.

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AI Wessex
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"I think Hamlet is overrated anyway."

Fer sher, and will be soon forgotten.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
"I think Hamlet is overrated anyway."

Fer sher, and will be soon forgotten.

[LOL]

Of course, I meant in comparison to a number of other Shakespeare's plays which are underrated. It's still in the top 50 plays ever made; I just think there are at least a dozen other Shakespeare plays that are better than either Hamlet or Lear.

"It's just that Hamlet's father being gay *isn't* in the work and nothing hints at it."

You mean, you can't think of any hints of it off the top of your head. Even though you list one of the facts that hints to it.

quote:
A reasonable conjecture given that there is an active relationship between Hamlet and his mother throughout the play. He chides her for seeming faithlessness to her dead husband, for which she feels some uneasiness (faithlessness toward her son?), and she chides him for not getting past his death (after all, one must move on from an intense sexual relationship once it ends).
I see no hint in the play that Gertrude had an intense sexual relationship with Hamlet's dead dad. Maybe that's why she likes Claudio -- nice to be finally getting some.


quote:

Why not have an arch-Conservative write a play about Hamlet's father as a Socialist dictator?

Why not? Lefty directors have depicted Richard III as a fascist. If you tell the story well, it might work.

quote:

Everything in Shakespeare has an echo of other things.

So why not give this a shot? Speaking of shots, I think that the pistols/gun control theme in the DiCaprio/Danes Romeo & Juliette really worked ... and I'm actually pro-2nd Amendment. The gin control propaganda was properly subordinated to the theme of a whole city playing with death. And the modern audience romanticizes knives and swords; Danes brings the horror out of the pink glow romance when she pulls a pistol rather than a dagger out in confession.
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AI Wessex
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Hmmm, I don't think you and I attended the same lectures [Wink] , but it would be fun to crack open one of the plays and a bottle or two of mineral water and go through it in detail. His plays need the serious and astute analysis that I'm sure we excel at [Smile] .

[Al:] "Why not have an arch-Conservative write a play about Hamlet's father as a Socialist dictator?"

[Pete:] "Why not? Lefty directors have depicted Richard III as a fascist. If you tell the story well, it might work."

Except for the fact, once again, that Hamlet's father is not in the play and the entire play of Richard III was all about him. Plot extrapolation is one thing, analysis by quantum leaps is another.

[ September 21, 2011, 08:39 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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"Hamlet's father is not in the play"

A Ghost, looking like Hamlet's father is in the play. Didn't Ibsen write a play about incest, called "ghosts"? Certainly one might see Hamlet's relationship with his father as saddled with an unhealthy and unreasonable degree of obligation, guilt, and yet at the same time, distrust. (A combination that I'm personally familiar with as a victim of child sexual abuse.) Does Hamlet distrust the Ghost because he doesn't know that it's his father? Or might it be that Hamlet didn't actually trust his father?

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
The reviewer also mentions that the molestation of three male characters by Hamlets father causes them to become homosexuals.
If that's implied by the OSC version, that is weird in an inappropriate way.

I find Hamlet annoying because there is not a good explanation for his hesitation. An interpretation that Hamlet himself was abused sexually by his father would provide a very interesting angle for both his character and his mother. This interpretation does not necessarily require another script/novel; it would be interesting to put on a production where that is part of the back-story influencing the characters as they speak the words as Shakespeare wrote them.

I think the play is popular because it has some exceptionally brilliant language in pursuit of a weaker story, and because it is filled with metaphors of the theater which, unsurprisingly, theater people have always particularly enjoyed.

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Pete at Home
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Oh, well yeah, if you change the language, it's not Shakespeare, obviously.
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AI Wessex
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"I find Hamlet annoying because there is not a good explanation for his hesitation."

It's true that there's none, but upon returning home from University Hamlet is confronted by a ghost, something that contradicts his learning and reason. He's slow to absorb what his senses tell him and nearly goes mad in the effort of rationalizing what he believes to be true with what he can prove. Later in the play when he has finally made the extraordinary leap and accepted the ghost's story as real and true he offers the famous contemplation that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. We can't test the limits of our conceptual knowledge (reason), because we can't know where they are, can't know when we've stepped beyond them into some realm of perceptual knowledge (belief), can't know what is true.

I don't know if you've studied the play in any detail, but the language, symmetry and irony are utterly beautiful. The unraveling of the central mystery is not about the murder, which he learns of in Act I, but the metaphysical costs of knowing. Others of Shakespeare's tragic plays are easier to grasp their full significance (Macbeth, Othello), but none are to me as fully realized. Harold Bloom wrote a whole book about how Shakespeare "invented" the modern sensibility that we (Westerners) inherited and all live within through his plays, and that Hamlet was the pinnacle of his creation.

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Greg Davidson
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I agree about some of the strengths of the piece, and Hamlet's influence on Freud's thinking about internal mental conflict is also important. It's just that as a piece of drama I find the motivation of Hamlet's character to be annoying - he should just act or don't act, but while there might be some realism in his extended mental journey, it's irritating to watch, at least for me.
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TommySama
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
"Songmaster" may have been a "sympathetic" characterizations, but they were also doomed ones. Acting on their love destroyed them. Show me a gay character with a happy ending.

I won't even try to post the appropriate link to this comment.
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