"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hamlet: Too Bad or Not Too Bad?

I'm sure my Good Reads friends have noticed that I just added a new book to my already rather long "Currently Reading" list.  But, I couldn't resist picking up Hamlet again.  The other day, I listened to a fascinating lecture all about Hamlet, and realized that I should totally reread the play.  Apart from Twelfth Night, Hamlet is my favorite Shakespearean piece.  Besides the classic story, I've also fallen in love with some of the incarnations of this tragic Danish prince, such as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and the movie Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead.  I've seen Hamlet as an emo, a nut, a conflicted young man, and even a smiling idiot with no concept of danger.  However, I've never actually seen him as a villain.  And that's just what this lecturer set out to prove: like Macbeth, Hamlet is the villain of his play.

Now, Hamlet is one of my favorite characters in literature, right up there with Malvolio (Twelfth Night); Zaphod Beeblebrox (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy); and Boo Radley and Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird).  Even so, I was not worried to see him painted the villain.  In fact, I was very intrigued.  I love the character of Hamlet because he is so complicated.  He's neither strictly hero or villain; madman or genius.  He's impossible to pin down, and I love that.

What do you think?  Hamlet hero or villain?  Facts to support your argument would be wonderful!  If you have a Good Reads account, I have a discussion forum posted; I would love it if you would respond ;)  If not, I'd love to hear about your theories in the comments feed right here on Ramblings!

[Edit] I thought I posted this LAST week...and I'm really surprised that I hadn't heard a single response.  Then, I realized I hadn't posted it, but saved it to drafts.  Bonus points for Emmy. xD


  1. in order to prove that Hamlet is the villain, you have to prove that Claudius is not the villain. I suppose it can be done.

  2. The speaker took the stance of two wrongs don't make a right, as well as the fact that we can't prove Claudius killed King Hamlet; all we have to go off of is the words of a ghost, which very well could be an evil spirit, and not truly the king.

  3. :( I can't read Shakespeare.

  4. Steven,

    Shakespeare can be difficult, but there are wonderful options like No Fear Shakespeare on Sparknotes.com. Check it out :)


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