Hamlet is hands down one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. It was one of the first ones I saw on stage, and it was the first story that really grabbed me and made me think “wow. This is the sort of story I can get in to!”.
And to say that about Shakespeare, I thought was a pretty cracking thing.
So, before I start having a dig in to Hamlet in all its glory, here’s five reasons I think you should give this play a try.
5. It’s all about dealing with difficult family dynamics and finding your way. Admittedly, your mother marrying your uncle when your father’s grave is still fresh is hardly a likely occurrence these days, but watching Hamlet navigate these new and unfamiliar territories is one of the things that really grabs me, especially at the start of this play.
4. It’s all about how to deal with grief. Not that Hamlet is really a great example of how to deal with a parent’s sudden death, but the way Shakespeare explores Hamlet’s emotions from when he first returns from Wittenberg; when he sees his mother’s sudden marriage; and when he is finally greeted by the ghost of his father – Shakespeare explores the layers of grief and how fragile and vulnerable Hamlet feels after such a monumental event.
3. The women! Despite Gertrude and Ophelia both getting fairly short shrift in the play, they are such interesting portrayals of women at the time and how to cope in a very masculine world. Gertrude may get slated for marrying her husband’s brother, but she is trying to remain within the political and family sphere of Elsinore. Ophelia is trying to save her love for Hamlet with a boyfriend who has changed markedly since he was last in Denmark. The strength of these women’s characters is something really fascinating in this play.
2. The best bromance in all of Shakespeare! Hamlet and Horatio’s friendship is almost the best thing for me in this whole play. I particularly love how it is brought out in the RSC/BBC David Tennant version. The only one Hamlet trusts in Elsinore is his best friend, and watching Horatio try and save Hamlet from himself is one of the main things I love about this whole play.
1. The inevitable tragic ending. I love a good tragic ending; I can’t resist the horrible, twisting feeling in my gut as I watch a character I adore spiralling downwards in a way that is clearly going to end with their death. But they will fight on until the end, giving us a glimmer of hope that they might be saved from the horrors around them – then to only have my hopes utterly and irrevocably dashed.
Have you read or watched Hamlet? What is it you love about this epic tragedy? leave a comment below!