I have my own theory on HAMLET which has not been adumbrated anywhere that I know of, but I haven’t made a dissertation type search. My notion is that Hamlet’s hamartia is an excess of religiosity. It accounts for his purity of soul as well as his cosmic vengefulness in that by not killing Claudius in the chapel he presumes he can exploit God’s laws of condemnation and forgiveness to damn Claudius. Of course, his “blindness” is that he cannot see inside Claudius’s mind and judge whether the external act of prayer represents an internal repentance. Claudius’s two line soliloquy at the end of the chapel scene shows that he was not repentant, and thus if Hamlet had skewered him then Hamlet would have accomplished his objective. Classic irony. The first Shakespeare I ever directed was with students and was HAMLET. We had no budget. The boy playing Hamlet brought in the shishkebob skewers from his family’s barbecue outfit to serve as swords in the play. Claudius would have been skewered indeed.


One Response to “BARBECUED HAMLET”

  1. Robert D. Shepherd Says:

    Well read, Harlan. It is NOT an accident that Halmlet has studied at Wittenberg. Nor is it an accident that at the very place where, in most Elizabethan drama, one gets the resolution of the central conflict, we get in this play Hamlet’s “the readiness is all.” The central question of Shakespeare’s day was whether one could be saved by actions (e.g., sacraments)–the Catholic view–or only by God’s grace, which one could prepare for only by being open to it (“the readiness is all”). Hamlet is the non-Fortinbras, the non-man-of-action to whom this is a very real question. I have a theory that it was a very real question for Shakespeare himself. Eliot famously thought that the play was a dramatic failure because Hamlet’s failure to act immediately and decisively was unmotivated. But he failed to read as closely as you have.

    Love the shishkebob/Claudius skewers. One thing that work in the theater teaches is how to make do with the materials at hand!

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