Hamlet: A Free Man in Paris

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.

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

a thin actor with a skull playing hamlet

Act 1. Scene 2 (Continued). King Claudius sits upon his throne. He takes out a mirror and gives his face a quick looksee to make sure every hair is in place. He smiles, then turns to Laertes, the son of the Lord Chancellor of the Reign. His radiance smiles down on the young man.

King: Your father tells us you have a petition you wish to place before us. If it meets with his approval and it is in our power to grant, we shall.

Laertes hesitates. He has never been before this king. He doesn’t want to goof up.

King (smiling down on his subject with magnanimity): Relax, Laertes, relax. Polonius is our friend and you are his son. He can ask whatever he would, for either himself or his son.

He kissed our royal rump. Let us count the ways.
He kissed the depth and breadth and height of it
He hath kissed it with such a lively wit
And since our college fraternity days
When we followed every fashion and craze.
When we needed a name that was a hit
Or we drank until we were royally lit.
He bailed us out with muchly that is praise
And he introduced us to our royal bride.
He sponsored our election at the court
To be the king and he did it with pride,
Kissed our royal tushy we’re glad to report.
So ask what you will. You won’t be denied.
It’s your dad’s reward for our rump’s support.

Laertes (in his most Laetesian style): It’s about time I got out of Dodge. I am about to bust a gut, Your Sireship. The sooner I get back to the ladies of Paris the better. I got to tell you this Castle is barren when it comes to the ladies. There’s just the Queen here and my sister, Ophelia. A man could die of pure loneliness in this place.

King: True, true. You are a frisky young man and there are only two women in the Castle. Neither you can date. I have been thinking on that very thing. Soon, very soon, there will be more women at Elsinore than you can shake a stick at. My lovely queen (turns to Gertrude) has completed the first part of our Plan. As soon as I make that Young Fortinbras sit up and beg like the dog he is, then Part 2 of our Plan will commence. We just need your patience in this matter.

Laertes (chomping at the bit); It’s not just the women. It is the joie de vivre the French bring to everything. And then there are also my studies.

King: Why not Wittenberg U? Hamlet, over there—(points to Hamlet). He really likes it.

Laertes: Those Ninety-five Theses are a drag. Besides they messed up a beautiful oak door.

King: Why not Moscow?

Laertes: Talk about bad winter here. They have really bad winters there. And I’m not into hiding my figure under a coat. I am a fine figured man, don’t you think?

King: I do. I do. Why not Rome?

Laertes: I am not ready to face down the Inquisition.

King: What about Spain?

Laertes: T-t-t-torquemada nada.

King: I guess England is out of the question too.

Laertes: Plague.

King: So it’s Paris.

Laertes: Since the Sorbonne went coed, it is the coolest place. Talk about parties, they have some parties. We party like it is 1599.

King: Ah, to be young again. Well, if you’re daddy says it’s okay, it’s okay with us.

Polonius (steps forward): I have agreed. Even though it’s costing me an arm and a leg.

King: Then Paris it is. Go with our blessing.

Laertes (steps forward and bows): Thank you, Your Magnanimousness. (He turns to Gertrude and bows to her.) And thank you, Your Majesty.

Laertes leaves the chambers and heads to Polonius’ apartments.