Watching Hamlet, again, I was thinking about Political Analysis. The most common comparison to some of the current political shenanigans going on? Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the Scottish Play, and King Lear.
The short form?
Julius Caesar was pulled from “free in the park” because the lead character, was dressed in a dark suit with a red tie and orange hair. Spray on tan, implied. Brilliant political commentary if only it was shut down early — that was a few years ago. The play, too, doesn’t end well. Julius Caesar.
The Scottish Play is when sheer force of will and sycophant observers, plus a malevolent manipulative wife, and bad witches take over. Raw, unbridled ego? Stupid soothsayers? Doesn’t end well. MacBeth.
King Lear has the most interesting analogy, about legacy, and the slow death of an aging monarch, demanding fealty in the face of death. Doesn’t end well. King Lear.
As Hamlet was concluding, I realized it offered a safe bit of political advice, more a blueprint for what is happening, more so than the usual.
I’m less interested in the Julius Caesar analysis, at the moment, as that’s been done to death. Lord MacBeth is self-will run amuck, and death to all in his way. Doesn’t end well for him or his heirs and assigns. King Lear divides a kingdom and ask felty from his kids, again, doesn’t end well.
But Hamlet, and the one I saw? One king sneaks his way into a position of king, and then, once little Prince Hamlet discovers the perfidy, all sorts of evil machinations are set in motion. Doesn’t end well, and killing the opposition doesn’t always work. I just recall the scene from one movie version as the actor emerged at the head of his army, seeing all the nobles dead in court. Yeah, doesn’t end well.
I’m not the first, nor will I be the most original in using Shakespeare’s plays for valid political analysis, but in our current conditions? Look to Hamlet, Prince of Denmark more than other, more obvious comparisons.
Used many times, but its the character Polonius, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that I went to sleep thinking about as the first of the recent spate of political indictments dropped on the evening news.
In one production, Polonius was played as a bumbling old fool, unnecessarily meddling in his children’s lives, and prattling on like that, which in context, renders some of his immortal words of the bard rather impotent. Dead behind the curtain. Talk about a curtain bow?
But in another version, Polonius is played as manipulative, and conniving, plotting for his own advancement through his children, used like pawns, and then? Sacrificed.
Which is it? Depends on the direction of the play, and I can see it either way.
However, the outcome?
The play is called The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark — thusly named for a reason. Doesn’t end well.
I was going to quote the Queen (Gertrude), “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (Hamlet III.ii.166), but the conclusion might be best?
“If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.”
Play doesn’t end well.
It is a dramatic tragedy. The fall of the nobles, ending in death all around. Prince Hamlet was right, but also dead.
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