Funny post (ps: I am so sorry that this is late!)
It was swim team. I was in second grade, and I was swimming backstroke at the city meet. Just as an aside, my swimming skills aren't the most graceful, and I wasn't the best at swim team. At all. I was panicking and hyperventilating and pacing back and forth on the gritty wet floor of the West YMCA, knowing that backstroke was my worst stroke. I didn't even like swim team. I hated it, in fact, but my mom thought I should try out different sports to see what I was good at, which wasn't much.
I crept over to my lane, my legs shaking with fear and desperation. I climbed into the over-chlorinated pool, contorting to push off from the ledge. The bell sounded. It was time to go. I lunged backwards and started swim. If you can even call it that.
My legs thrashed about as though I was mid-seizure, my arms flailing like limp spaghetti. I quickly crept to twenty plus seconds behind the other swimmers, crawling desperately just to finish the race.
My mother's heart broke as she saw her daughter become "that girl". The girl who can't swim.
The entire city was watching. My mom began to shout, "Go Aubree!", trying to cheer me on, to make it seem less worse. Soon, my entire team was shouting, "Go Aubree! You can do it!". The rest of the crowd soon took note of my failed attempt at being Michael Phelps. They too, began cheering for the gangly girl in lane four, failing her attempt at backstroke.
I, however, didn't know that these shouts were shouts of pity. They registered in my mind as "Good job!" and "Awesome!", instead of, "I feel soooo bad for you!"
I smiled as I choked on more water and flailed some more. I finished my laps.
I climbed out of the pool, resembling Gollum as my pale body shivered, a grin plastered across my face.
Third place. I ran up to my mother, soaking wet. "Mom! Did you hear everyone cheering for me?" My mom smiled. "You were great, Aubree!"
I claimed my third place ribbon, trying to forget that there had been only three people racing.
Hamlet Blog #4 For this very last (I think?) Hamlet blog post, I thought I would talk about the ending of the play, because that's what we covered. In a way, my opinion and thoughts from last week are kind of part of my overall theme for my post.I really liked the different interpretations in the movies of the funeral and the duel and the last scenes were very interesting, but what I thought was most interesting was the very end.What is interesting about it is that I don't think it's necessary. Last week I talked about cutting out the "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy, and this week, I'm talking (typing?) about cutting the very last scene.With all due respect to William Shakespeare, I think it's unnecessary and makes the play even longer than it already needs to be.In my opinion, the play should end at, "Goodnight, sweet prince." (and then the rest of that line).It's an iconic line and it just feels like the play should end there. It's similar to when you're at a concert (the Cheap Trick concert I went to, for example. It just went on and on and on and on), and the concert ends. You're kind of ready to go home. And then there's a ten song long encore. You're sitting there like, "This is all good and fine, but shouldn't the concert be over?"That's how I feel about Hamlet. However, when you read the very last scene with Fortinbras, it contains important information that seems pretty relevant. But I think the play could survive without it. I think it changes the reality of the play (relating to our essential question) in that the play wouldn't be missing anything, except for maybe a little bit of information. Just knowing that it's there though makes our perception that the play wouldn't be as good without it though. Maybe our perception of the play with that last scene is what keeps us thinking that it's necessary?Speaking of unnecessary things, this trailer for the 2000 version of Hamlet, with Ethan Hawke. There are some things that just aren't needed. Like that trailer.I am now going to analyze the last stanza of Hamlet.
PRINCE FORTINBRAS
  • Let four captains
  • Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage;
  • For he was likely, had he been put on,
  • To have proved most royally: and, for his passage,
  • The soldiers' music and the rites of war
  • Speak loudly for him.
  • Take up the bodies: such a sight as this
  • Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.
  • Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
  • My favorite part is the "proved most royally" part. It's kind of punny in my opinion. He would have proved most royally because he could have been king, and he would have been royally awesome.
  • I'm probably being a dork, but I just think it's just a good part of the play. It's simple, but it works.


Hamlet Blog #3
A lot happened in Hamlet last week from what we read. Ophelia drowned herself, Hamlet killed Polonius (and "thought" it was Claudius. Hah, oops.), Claudius debated coming clean, and Hamlet debated killing Claudius. I especially enjoyed the performances in period four this week - Tyler Clark makes a wonderful Ophelia. I'm very excited to see the performances this week! My current perception of reality is that fourth period is Oscar material.
As you would have seen in last week's post, I'm a total dork and I remember things about Hamlet, and ways that I've seen it. This week, I'm thinking back to NBC's show Parenthood, Season 3, Episode 14, or "New Plan".
Richard Dreyfuss guest stars as Sarah's theatrical mentor, Gilliam. The point is that he's telling Sarah about how he got his first job directing. He was working backstage (I think?) at a production of Hamlet, and suggested cutting the "To Be Or Not To Be" speech in order to shorten the length of the play. First he was fired for suggesting it, and then hired.
Anyway, the point I'm getting at is: What would Hamlet as a whole (the play, and the character) be without "To Be or Not To Be"? How would it change the reality of the play? Tobias Smollett said in a 1756 essay that, "
...there are an hundred characters in [Shakespeare's] plays that (if we may be allowed the expression) speak out of character. ... The famous soliloquy of Hamlet is introduced by the head and shoulders. He had some reason to revenge his father's death upon his uncle, but he had none to take away his own life. Nor does it appear from any other part of the play that he had any such intention. On the contrary, when he had a fair opportunity of being put to death in England he very wisely retorted the villainy of his conductors on their own heads. "


In my opinion, the soliloquy offers a deeper look at Hamlet, rather than being out of character for the character of Hamlet. If that famous speech was completely cut out of the play, as in it had never been there, never been written, never been thought, I'm not so sure that there would be an absence felt in the play, but Hamlet's character wouldn't be as well developed, and Hamlet might not be that play that everyone thinks when someone says "Shakespeare".
Nonetheless, I find it to be an integral part of the play. The real subject, in my opinion, is how it is presented.




Laurence Olivier's Hamlet presented it in somewhat of an awkward way (a little boring), but I can recognize that what might have been good for film back in 1948 might not be as good with today's standards of film.
However, today's standards of film apparently involve a lot of product placement of Blockbuster:

Because of this, I almost wish I could combine 1948 and 2000 to make a more refined and less Blockbuster-y interpretation of the soliloquy.


I will be analyzing these lines from the famous speech:
To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,For in that sleep of death what dreams may comeWhen we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause.
SparkNotes' beloved No Fear Shakespeare says that it means:
To die, to sleep—to sleep, maybe to dream. Ah, but there’s the catch: in death’s sleep who knows what kind of dreams might come, after we’ve put the noise and commotion of life behind us.

This gives the audience a peak into part of Hamlet's fear of possibly killing himself, and of death in general. calling the "noise and commotion of life" a "mortal coil" seems very interesting to me. It regards life as something sad and full of suffering, which makes you wonder, if life is so bad, why doesn't Hamlet kill himself?
Hamlet Blog # 2This week, we examined the ghost scenes of Hamlet. In my opinion, these are some of the coolest parts of the play because it finally offers some background to why everything is happening, and what led up to it. While reading it and seeing the different interpretations of it, I kept on thinking back to when I saw The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2010 production of Hamlet. In OSF's production, the king is deaf. Around the 26 second mark, you see Hamlet talking, or signing to his father (keep watching) and until about the one minute mark, you will see his father signing back. When I saw the play, I thought that the dead king was interpreted as being deaf as intentional, but I was looking at reviews of OSF's production today, and I learned that Howie Seago, the actor who portrayed King Hamlet is actually deaf. In one review, someone said, "All this was intended to educate the audience, ostensibly about the condition of the deaf and dumb, but in actuality about the Festival’s determination to embrace unprejudiced diversity. In fact, in addition to mystifying those who did not already know the missing lines and annoying those who did, it had the effect of distracting everybody by breaking both the rhythm and the focus of any scene. Here is a perfect example of trying to walk a middle path where there is no middle. They could have hired an actor who could speak and someone to sign the whole play for the deaf (as will happen for certain of the performances later in the season). They could have inverted the normal signing process and hired someone to speak off to the side the lines the deaf actor was not saying. Instead of these practical alternatives, they thought they could make up for the words of our greatest poet with a series of simplistic symbolic gestures, like those of a tourist asking for a drink of water in a country whose language he cannot speak. For me, apart from the annoyance of the distraction, there was exasperation at the triumph of sentimental absurdity over commitment to the integrity of the play.This critic seemed like kind of jerk in my opinion, but I suppose that that's beside the point. While it's true that if someone saw the production and was not familiar with the play, it could be confusing for them, but when I saw it, not having read Hamlet in-depth-ly before, I still got the gist of what was happening, and was still able to understand the play. This brings us to the essential question: "How can our perception of reality change reality?"For me, when I saw it, my perception of reality was that the actor playing the ghost was not deaf, and that OSF had intentionally portrayed him as deaf. That was the reality for me for about two years, but today, I learned that the reality was that Howie Seago is actually deaf. However, regardless of if Seago had been deaf or not, I still thoroughly enjoyed his performance and portrayal of the ghost, because I still knew what was happening.
In the OSF clip you see on youtube, the lines you see portrayed are:
Ghost

Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

HAMLET

Murder!


Just hearing those lines easily tells one what is happening, and what happened, so while the above reviewer was angry that all of the monologues originally included in the play were not there, I still found those simple lines remarkably powerful because it says it all.

Hamlet Blog # 1

So, the essential question for period four's unit concerning Hamlet is "How can our perception of reality change reality?"

I am examining this in my blog post by comparing how reality is different between different interpretations of Hamlet's first eleven lines (the ones we looked at in class.)

I am watching the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2008 version of Hamlet (with David Tennant) for the film requirement, which can be seen here

Watch Hamlet on PBS. See more from Great Performances.


In this version, the movie opens to the view of a black and white security camera, covering a dark, eerie stone path, with a guard walking back and fourth as the camera moves to keep the guard in sight. This lets the viewers know already that this version of Hamlet is set in modern times.As soon as the first line ["Who's there?"] is spoken, the viewing snaps from the security camera to actual viewing (I guess that's what you'd call it?) to reveal the security guard, or Francisco. Barnardo then assures Francisco that it is Barnardo, and not something else? The uneasiness is evident because both are looking around to make sure that no one (or nothing like a ghost?) is afoot.
The second interpretation of these first eleven lines is a youtube video called HAMLET: ACT 1; Scene 1.
In this version, there are not any visuals aside from text explaining stage direction because one man (Zach Valkyrie?) composes all of the characters in the play using his own voice (which will be interesting to hear when there are women).In this version, Barnardo sounds regal (if that makes any sense), and Francisco sounds like a young man in his twenties. Because there is a lack of visuals, the viewer, or listener, has to visualize it all for himself or herself, so this is essentially a book on tape.
The third is a clip from the Kenneth Branagh version which can be found on youtube as well.

In this version, it is equally as eerie in the begininning as the RSC's version is, opening to the front "yard" (field?) of a grand estate, where a Francisco carefully walks about, hearing the whistle of the wind, and then cutting to a night vision view of the wall, and then a statue of the deceased King at the front of the estate's entrance, This version sufficiently displays and conveys the creepy jumpy tenseness that Shakespeare likely intended for this play. You see the statue "move", and then all of the sudden, Barnardo tackles Francisco as they shout the first few lines, then realizing who the other is. The uneasiness that both display once again suggests that there may be something else out there, and they might be afraid to admit it.


In all four versions so far, it is clear that Barnardo and Fransisco are unsure of what is reality, and what is their imagination, which might really be changing their reality.An example of this from my own life is that..
My analysis of a passage of the play also comes from the first eleven lines:
BARNARDO
Who's there?

FRANCISCO
Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.

BARNARDO
Long live the king!

FRANCISCO
Barnardo?

BARNARDO
He.
FRANCISCO
You come most carefully upon your hour.

BARNARDO
'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.

FRANCISCO
For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.


BARNARDO
Have you had quiet guard?

FRANCISCO
Not a mouse stirring.

BARNARDO
Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.


The last two lines weren't included in class, but I thought I would include them here in my analysis.
While all of these lines are simple, I believe that they convey the feeling of the scene very well, without much stage direction at all.
Just the fact that they were so jumpy in the beginning shows how they were clearly afraid of something, and when Barnardo says, "bid them make haste," it shows that Barnardo is eager not to be alone for long.