The Trials and Tribulations of Hamlet

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

Aubrie Sandoval, Writer

Big spoilers ahead, so if you plan on reading Hamlet eventually, just click off now. There are also some triggers; talk of murder, manipulation, verbal abuse, talks of mental illness and loss of identity, and brief talk of suicide.

Hamlet, written by Shakespeare in the 1600s, is basically about a prince dealing with daddy issues and trying to avenge his father against his wicked stepfather. It’s the most tragic Cinderella story I’ve ever read. Except this Cinderella is born into royalty, he says crude things to his mother, mocks the king who is also his uncle, talks to his deceased dad, makes a whole plan for murder, and dies in the end. So really it isn’t like Cinderella at all. There’s also a great deal of summary missing from that list, so buckle up. 

I’ve only read two works of William Shakespeare and I could not stand Romeo and Juliet. Imagine already being confused on what love is and having to read R&J and be convinced that it wasn’t toxic and perpetuating a line of thought that could and possibly would be harmful to young minds that weren’t older than 14-15. This isn’t an attack on teachers or the school or anyone except fictional characters that won’t know the difference or that they even exist.  However, I do like Hamlet. I think his direction is tragic and how people go to great lengths to correct a mistake that they felt was punishable by some kind of intense consequences was accurate, and still prevalent even in modern times. I think another thing that I enjoyed a lot about Hamlet was that when you ask if he has honor at the end or whether any of the characters have honor at the end there isn’t a clear answer. There’s a variance of thought process and dialect. Hamlet was a tragedy, and dramatic, and I often find I don’t 100% understand the words, but it still has enough room to have beautiful moments. 

For example, fruit basket Hamlet Jr. telling bestie Horatio that he was “his heart” and bestie Horatio telling Hamlet that he would do anything for him and that he would follow him even if it was to his death? I shed a tear. Warm and fuzzy feelings for our favorite couple. However, there’s an equally soul-crushing moment between them at the end. We’ve already gone over how Hamlet dies because he was stabbed by a poisoned sword, but what I didn’t go over was that Mr. Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle-dad, had a goblet with poison wine in it. When he offered it to Hamlet while he and Laertes were fighting, Gertrude, Hamlet’s mom, the queen, stepped in and drank it. She died super fast, then Laertes tells Hamlet it was Claudius’s fault and Hamlet killed him. All caught up? Well, Hamlet is dying and there’s still poison wine left in the goblet, and faced with the fact that his best friend was dying, he said he was going to drink it. However, because Hamlet was completely selfless when it comes to his friends, he told Horatio he couldn’t, he had to tell his story. Bestie Horatio was crushed and was just the saddest little tomato for the last few pages of the story. 

Another part that will always interest me is that when faced with the reality of how he murdered his brother, his blood, Claudius, despite his guilt and grief, excused his actions. Listed how it was okay because he had his queen, a throne, etc… A similar example would be when he says he’ll help Laertes kill Hamlet. He doesn’t feel any particular grief or shame for what he’s doing. He just keeps on doing it. Say what you will about how awful he was, which is valid and I agree, Claudius was a decent actor and that will always make me mad. I’ll explain why: when someone who hurts people is good at lying, it’s almost like a slap to the face of the people that they’re hurting. Serial liars will tell you that you’re imagining things even though they just happened right in front of your face. They’ll deny witnesses. It drives me crazy. So you can probably imagine how much I liked Cladius. 

I feel like Hamlet was such a good story for me because despite how valid his feelings of betrayal and anger were, he was still condemned for the way that he treated those that didn’t deserve it. By the end, he knew what he did wrong and he felt guilty for it, and I think I can be okay with that ending, where the only person left standing was one of the most honorable people in the court. Was Horatio part of the court? I’m not actually sure, but he is now. 

There is a whole laundry list that I could complain about with just English reading lists. However, Hamlet will probably be one of the most dramatic and comedic stories I’ve read. It’s not an excellent story but it’s a great one and that’s enough. The dude that wrote it is obviously dead but if he’s wherever you guys believe in, hopefully, someone taught him to read and he can see this and know he did great. Love it, gosh tier story writing. Deep fondness from a high school senior just trying to stay afloat.