Hamlet: No More Mr. Nice Guy

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

Act 3 Scene 2 (continued).

From the moment Ophelia said, “The king rises.”

From the moment the Queen said, “How fares my lord?”

From the moment Polonius said, “Stop the play.”

From the moment Claudius said, “Give me some light, away.”

Hamlet knew, and he knew big time. The white face on Claudius was not embarrassment. It wasn’t a clown’s face. It was the face of a murderer’s guilt.

Yep, Claudius did it. There was no doubt about it.

“Well, there you have it. There it is,” The Hamster said to his good bud, Horatio. “Claudius done it. There’s no doubt about It.” The Hamster looked for agreement. Even now, he was not about to go out on this limb alone.

Horatio was a man of few words and those words usually backed up anything The Hamster said. Horatio had watched Claudius during the performance of “The Murder of Gonzago”. Claudius’ face left nothing to guesswork. He was guilty alright. So Horatio gave his unqualified yep with a clear conscience.

‘Course, whatever Horatio did or said, he said or did with a clear conscience. It wasn’t necessarily that it was right. He just did it with a clear conscience. That was the kind of guy he was. Also it was a great survival technique. And one thing was sure. Horatio was good at surviving.

So there it was. Claudius guilty as charged. Right. What to do about it? Before that could be discussed, guess who showed? Mr. Dumb and Mr. Dumber. Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Rusancrantz and Guildenstern, of course.

R or G said, “My lord, can I have a word with you?’

“I don’t know. Can you?” Hamlet throws off.

“The king. He’s off in his chamber and he’s extremely bummed, man.”

“Got the blues, eh?”

“He’s angry,” R or G said.

“That’s what he gets for drinking that bad hootch.” Hamlet smiled. He was having way too good a time.

“It’s not that.”

“Maybe you should get him a doctor. I hear his doctor the doctor, Doctor Doctor, is very good at healing a pain in the butt. Can’t heal mine but maybe he can take Polonius’ head out of his rear.”

“But your mom…”

“I thought we were talking the king here. You’re always confusing me. Not only can I not tell who R is and who G is, now you’ve got me confused about who the king is and who the queen is. He’s not wearing a dress again, is he?”

In the Middle Ages, lords wore robes. They may have looked like dresses but they were not. They were robes. Popes and cardinals got to wear dresses, I mean robes too. It was what distinguished a higher-up from a lower-down. Serfs wore pants.

“Huh?”

“It’s getting hard to know who’s wearing the pants around here. Oh, me. I’m wearing the pants.” Hamlet asided, “See, you were wrong. I do have fashion-sense. I’m so New School I might as well be in kindergarten.”

Pants were the new thing. All the young turks were wearing them back at Wittenburg U. Even the ladies had gotten on the pants bandwagon. They were after that workingclass look. Only Elsinore was behind the times fashionwise. It would take a hundred years or a Fortinbras to bring pants–and bras–into style.

“It’s not the king who sent us. It’s your mom.”

“Well, it’s lovely to see you too,” Hamlet said.

“She is upset at your behavior.”

“Now that’s not true,” Hamlet said. “And you know it’s not true. You take that back.”

R or G wasn’t sure what to do. Hamlet seemed to be getting nutsier and nutsier. They decided. “We take it back.”

Polonius announced, “My lord, the queen wants to speak with you.”

“Well, I’d better go then. Tell the queen I’ll be there by the by.”

Hamlet was through playing. He was through pussy footin’. He might not be on a mission from God, but now he was on a mission. He knew what he must do. It was time to get on with the show. Just to show it, he said these words:

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the bitter day
Would quake to look on. Soft, now to my mother.—
O heart, lose not thy nature, let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
Let me be cruel, not unnatural.
I will speak daggers to her but use none.
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites.
How in my words somever she be shent,
To give them seals never, my soul, consent!

Scary stuff. And I’m talking deep fried, Stephen King, Anne Rice kind of scary. The witching hour indeed.

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