Hamlet and The Truman Show

For the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit. (Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2)

Act 2 Scene 2 (continued). It’s that time, folks. Time to ask if Hamlet is mentally unstable or is he just playing fast and loose ’cause he’s on “The Truman Show”?

Freud says yes. Jung says no. Skinner says he is behaving that way, so it must be true. Adler says he has several rings on the Actualization ladder before he’s happy. Hamlet’s doctor blames it on that bedwetting episode the Hamster had when he was six. Let’s just say that Princey isn’t a happy camper and leave it at that.

Thing is the Hamster can’t get a moment’s peace. Hamlet is having a down-and-out with Ophelia. Mom is down on him for being so hard on the king. Last few days, he’s caught Polonius eavesdropping on him big time. If that ain’t enough, he is strolling down the hall. Out pops Polonius and gives Hamlet the third degree. Man, I would find that a bummer too. He has become a canary in a cage, thanks to Claudius and Mom’s intentions.

Probably Poly came up with the plan to get rid of Dad. That’s some down and dirty plotting. Makes Hamlet wonder if Cain had a minion urging him on. “Ah, c’mon. You will be the Big Man on Campus instead of that smarty Abel. Always egging you on. ‘My sheep are better than your cabbage.'”

Does Hamlet have an antic disposition or is he just feeling blue? He may not be a mentally unstable person. He just plays one of tv. But he sure feels like somebody’s watching him these days.

So Polonius asks him what he is reading. “Who does Polonius think he is?” Hamlet thinks. He doesn’t really care. Just wants to be left alone. Of course, he’s reading words…words…words. Perhaps Hamlet is reading Kierkegaard. Perhaps he is reading Sartre. After all, existentialism is all the rage. And who is a better example of that philosophy than Hamlet?

Or perhaps he is reading one of the Gospels.

Hamlet is so angry. The gall of Polonius. It’s enough to drive a guy mad if he wasn’t already mad. Hamlet does a rhetorical. “Do you know me indeed?” Hamlet gets in his jab. “Just one man in ten thousand is good. (You ain’t him.) A coward dies a thousand deaths. The valiant taste of death but once.” Take that you Poly-want-a-cracker.

Poly leaves and in comes the clowns, R & G. And they talk blah-blah-blah too. He is no more sane to them than he was to Poly. It’s all the sane to him.

Well, there you have it. The guy is play acting, or is he?

Hamlet: Sounds like a plan

How may we try it further? (Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2.)

Act 2 Scene 2 (continued). Still in the throne room with Claudius and Gertrude.

Polonius enters. “The ambassadors are back from Norway, sir.”

Claude: “Cool. You are bringing good news.”

Poly: “Only doing my job, Boss. And I think I know what is driving the Prince crazy.”

So what is Claude interested in? He doesn’t want to know what is going on with his relations with a country that might go to war with him. No, he is more concerned with Hamlet, his nephew. Indeed there must be something rotten in Denmark. (I know. We already know that. But I thought it was a good thing to remind us just in case we forgot.)

Claude: “Well, well, tell me.”

Poly is all business. “First things first. Norway and the ambassadors. Then my news.”

Claude: “You do know that I am about to piss my pants waiting to find out your Hamlet news? I’ve waited this long. I guess a little longer won’t matter. But don’t keep me waiting. Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way.”

Poly: “Think of my news as dessert.”

Claude: “Then show the ambassadors in. And make it quicksky.”

Poly goes to fetch like the dog he is.

Claude (turning to Gertie) “Gertrude, he says he’s found out the reason for your son’s insanity.”

Amazing. Talk about talking past each other. Gertie has been sitting beside Claude. Is she hard of hearing? If not, why does Claude have to tell her something she already knows. That Poly is about to share why Hamlet has gone off his rocker. I’m afraid Claude has been in the medicine cabinet a little early. Even if Gertie was deaf, I am pretty sure she could have read lips. She’s a smart cookie. And nobody’s trophy wife.

Gertie (states the obvious): “I doubt it’s anything but the obvious reason: his father’s dying and our quick marriage.”

Claude (hiccup): “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

The ambassadors bring good news. Fortinbras Jr. has been chastised. He has been promised Poland if Claude will let him pass through Denmark. That’s okee dokee with Claude. Thing is nobody has asked Poland. Nobody ever asks Poland. Napoleon didn’t ask Poland. The Tsar didn’t ask Poland. Hitler didn’t ask Poland. Stalin didn’t ask Poland. But guess what? God asked Poland and Poland gave Him a pope. It didn’t make up for Napoleon, the Tsar, Stalin and Hitler, but it helped.

The news is good news. It’s good news for Gertie. Claude off at war. She would miss her regular Friday night frolics in the hay. She loved those Friday night frolics.

It is good news for Claude. He doesn’t have to prove that he knows how to ride a horse. He does not have to prove that he can ride into battle and chop off heads like his brother. He always hated that. It got blood all over his royal duds.

It is good news for Poly. He has grown in the king’s estimation.

It is really good news for the peasants. The peasants really hate war. Their taxes wouldn’t go up to pay for a war. It causes such havoc with the family budget. The men wouldn’t be drafted. It means that the womenfolk have to double up on the work since the men are out getting themselves killed. It also means that the peasant men have to miss their Saturday nights down at the pub, doing what they always do. Pubbing.

It’s a win-win-win for everybody.

The ambassadors leave.

Poly: “Your Magnanimousness and Your Majesty, I just want to butter you up and flatter you a little. You both know I would kiss your hineys from here to God knows where if you asked. You are that good of sovereigns. I mean, Your Magnanimousness, you are Julius Caesar, Charlemagne and Queen Elizabeth all rolled into one. The sun rises and the sun sets at your command.”

The rulers smile down upon Poly. They know he’s right and it’s nice to hear someone acknowledge it.

Poly: “That Hamlet is nuts. Crazy. Off his rocker.”

Gertie: “What do you mean?”

Poly: “I have a letter here that he wrote to my dear daughter, Ophelia.”

He hands the queen Hamlet’s letter. She reads it, then Claude reads it.

Poly: “He called her beautified. Can you believe that?”

Gertie gives him a what’s-wrong-with-that-and-you’d-better-have-a-good-answer look.

Poly continues: “Hamlet is a prince. He is not eligible to marry a commoner like Ophelia. It is a matter of state as to whom he shall marry.” (Did you notice Poly used “whom”, the correct grammarical word. The author of this piece is responsible for that. I hate to brag but aren’t you proud of me?)

Gertie shakes her head, agreeing with Poly.

Poly (thinking phew. That was a close call):”I urged her to end her relationship with the prince. So now he is crazy with love for my daughter. That is the reason he is acting so very strange. And I grieve for him.”

Claude (hoping against hope that Poly is right): “Is there a way to prove this?”

Poly: “I can suggest to Ophelia that she speak to the prince on one of his walks. We can spy on him while they talk.”

Claude and Gertie look at each other.

Claude: “Sounds like a plan.”

Poly: “I think I hear him coming. Let me talk to him. I will worm things out of him even if it kills me.”

The two royals leave. Poly calls to Hamlet walking toward him. Hamlet has a book in his hand.

Nine Martyrs in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel

Nine Martyrs in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel,
nine welcoming.
Nine Martyrs in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel,
nine praying.
Nine Martyrs in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel,
nine dying.

Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.
A trinity of threes.

Three saints for the Father,
Three saints for the Son,
Three saints for the Holy Ghost.
Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.

Devil, he come down South to Charleston town,
wearing a mask.
Dylann Storm Roof, the mask on Satan’s face
that Wednesday night.
Spraying out hell from the barrel of a gun,
spraying out hate.

Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.
Nine bullets he fired.

Three shots for the Rebel flag,
Three shots for the K K K,
Three shots for George Zimmerman.
Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.

Nine saints in the Temple of the Lord,
this morning.
Nine saints in the Book of Life,
this morning.
Nine saints at the Feet of Jesus,
this morning.

Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.
Nine names in the Book.

Clementia, Daniel and Ethel Lee,
Tywanza, Depayne and Susie,
Sharonda, Cynthia and Myra.
Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.

Nine Martyrs in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel,
nine welcoming.
Nine Martyrs in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel,
nine praying.
Nine Martyrs in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel,
nine dying.

Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.
Nine Saints in the Arms of Mama Emmanuel.
Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama.
A trinity of threes.

Hamlet: R & G

Hamlet: Why, man, they did make love to this employment. They are not near my conscience. (Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2.)

Act 2. Scene 2. Is it Halloween? If not, then why is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern showing up for treat-or-treat? And in those costumes too. They are dressed in white faces, a coxcomb of peacock feathers on their heads, white shirts and red bow ties with purple polka dots, and red and white striped pants. The king and queen had never seen anything like it. It took their breath away.

Bumblers extraordinary. Think Laurel & Hardy or Abbott & Costello. A couple of wild and crazy guys. The Blues Brothers, Jake & Elmo, or Zorro & Sgt. Gonzalez. Crosby & Hope without Dorothy Lamorr. Dumb and Dumber could have taken lessons from these two guys. They were so wild and crazy they got their own play.

One is tall and the other short just like Mutt and Jeff. R & G were the original Tweedledee and Tweedledum. They are inseparable, these two.

The trumpets trumpet. The drums drum. And there they are bowing before King Claude.

Claude is the first to speak. Of course, the king is always the first to speak. “Hey, Dudes.”

“Your Magnanimousness.” We are not sure who speaks. Is it Rosencrantz or is it Guildenstern? No one is ever sure. Not even R & G. It’s like Freddy Mercury sings, “Anyway the wind blows doesn’t really matter.” So why should it matter which is Twiddledee and which Tweedledum?

“We are impressed with your court ettiquette,” King speaks his approval of the boys in those costumes.

Queen Gertie giggles, then makes the vote unanimous. Not that Claudius needs any backup. Claude looks over at the queen and gives her one of those looks. You know the kind of look I am talking about.

Just who are R and G which I will refer to as R and G hence. Hence is another way of saying “from now on.” Kind of like etc. They are Witties just like Hamlet. Fraternity brothers at the University of Wittenberg. A couple of fun guys who were the life of the party. No matter the frown on the Hamster’s face, they could always get a chuckle out of him.

“So what brings you two fine fellows to our court?” Claudius asks.

“We got your note,” R answers or it could be G.

“Oh, that’s right,” Claudius pretends to remember. “I must get off that viagara. It is really affecting my memory.”

“If we can grant it, Your Magnanimousness, we shall grant your desire. Not the desire to get off viagara. But the other desire. The one that brought us here in the first place.”

Claudius smiled down upon the two. This was what he liked to hear. It was morning, the birds were singing, and he had two yes-men before him. What more could a king want?

“If you insist,” Claudius said, “I have one teensy weensy favor to ask. I would like you to visit with Hamlet. Find out what he’s feeling so blue about. He won’t tell the queen and I. You’re such good friends with the boy. I know you can get it out of him. You were his boyhood friends.”

“Gladly, Your Magnanimousness.”

“Then go to him. And report everything,” the king says, “to me. Now run along and do your duty. And make your king proud.”

The two bow and back out of the big room.

Hamlet Didn’t Wear His Hat

OPHELIA (to her father):

My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,

Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced;

No hat upon his head; his stockings fouled,

Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle;

Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;

And with a look so piteous in purport

As if he had been loosèd out of hell

To speak of horrors—he comes before me.

Hamlet Act 2 Scene 1.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Explanation: It was a fashion faux pas for an Elizabethan man not to wear a hat when he was out and about. Lower class men were required by law to wear a hat on Sundays and holidays. The higher the station the taller the hat. Being a prince, Hamlet would have worn a very tall hat, a hat so tall it would have given Abe Lincoln’s a run for its money.

Act 2 Scene 1 (continued).Ophelia enters the room. Poly Unsaturated is with their Majesties. That is group talk for king and queen.

Poly Unsaturated asks, “Ophie, what’s the matter?”

“O my lord, I have been so affrighted,” Ophie says.

“Could you please speak in plain English the way I’ve taught you?” P U browbeats.

“Hamlet came to see me. He didn’t wear his hat,” Ophie says to her dad.

“Hamlet didn’t wear his hat?” Poly asks.

“Hamlet didn’t wear his hat?” Claudius asks.

“Hamlet didn’t wear his hat?” Gertrude wants to know.

“Hamlet didn’t wear his hat?” Echo echoes.

“That’s what I said,” Ophie says to Poly and the gang.

“Hamlet didn’t wear his hat?” Echo’s echo asks.

“That’s what I said,” Ophie says to Echo’s echo. “I’m not saying this again.”

“Not,” echoes through the room three or four times.

“Oh, shut up,” Claudius commands.

“Yes, Your Magnanimousness,” Echo whimpers away to the corner.

“Oh, what’s the problem now?” Claudius asks, frustrated.

“You hurt the poor thing’s feelings,” Gertie says, then runs over and hugs Echo with a big motherly hug. “He didn’t mean it.” Then to Claudius, “Now did you?”

“Of course, I did,” Claudius says. “I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t.”

Apologize,” Gertie demands.

“Apologize? What the hell for?”

“You’d better apologize.”

“What?” Frustration rears itself up in Claudius’ voice.”I’m The King. Kings don’t apologize.”

Gertrie strokes poor Echo’s hair. “He’s nothing but a meanie. A blue meanie.”

“I am not.”

“Oh, yes you are.” Gertie is crying. “You apologize or no more tiddlywinks at midnight.”

“But I love tiddlywinks,” Claudius protests.

“Then apologize,” Gertrude demands.

“Now I see why my brother hated this job. Kingship doesn’t have the meaning it used to.”

“Apologize,” Gertie demands once more.

“Oh, okay. Echo, I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?”

“I don’t know,” Echo sobs.

“Say it like you mean it.” Gertie glares.

Claudius shakes his head, knowing a loosing battle when he sees one. He gets down on his knees. “I am so so so sorry. Will you please forgive me? Pretty please?”

Echo says, “Oh, okay.” Then she smiles and runs from the room, dancing. “I made the king say sorry. I made the king say sorry.”

Claudius stands up. “Well, I’m glad that’s over. Tiddlywinks tonight?”

Gertie says, “A very special game of tiddlywinks.” She walks over and kisses Claudius on the lips.

“Excuse me,” Ophie says. “But Hamlet did not wear his hat.”

“Oh, shut up,” everybody says and leaves the room.

Ophie in the room all by her lonesome. “But I liked that hat.”