Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thoughts on Hamlet Part Two

My dad has been saying, "Every dog has its day to bark," ever since I could remember. I had no idea he was quoting from Hamlet. “The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.”

Why did Polonious send someone to spy on Laertes?? Was he just trying to show that Laertes wasn't as noble as everyone thought? It seemed so random.

My favorite line: “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.” Hamlet's talking about death. It is a profound truth that "the readiness is all." That's the only part of it that is under our control.

Thoughts on Hamlet Part One

Today I must dispute with Horatio who referred to Hamlet as “noble.” The dictionary definition of noble said: possessing high ideals or excellent moral character. Of “moral” the dictionary stated: principles of right and wrong as they govern standards of general or sexual behavior. Murder is not noble. Vengefulness is not moral. Inconstancy in love is not moral.

I argue that Hamlet never acted with any sense of moral principles. In the true tragedian style—everyone died and every death could have been easily avoided if the characters had only chosen to act nobly. Instead, everyone dies due to poor choices as a way for Shakespeare to illustrate the frailty of mankind and drive home the obvious lesson that it is wisest to live morally.

Some have argued that Hamlet acted morally because he was honor-bound to avenge his father’s death. His uncle did behave abominably when he killed his brother and it can be argued that the uncle’s poor choice set in motion the tragic chain of events, thereby excusing Hamlet’s subsequent poor behavior. However, Shakespeare discredits that argument when he has Ophelia say, “They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.” In essence, we know what we are now because we are the sum of our experiences. However, we do not know what we will be in the future because we haven’t reacted/responded/adapted to future events yet. We can only guess at how we will respond to future situations by how we have responded in the past.

But even that is not a perfect guide. As our knowledge base grows our behavior changes, our attitudes alter, our convictions become firmer and our morals either loosen or tighten. Hamlet, clearly, was a fairly likeable, regular guy before his father’s death. Hamlet’s uncle claimed that he could not do anything too drastic to Hamlet because he was popular with the citizenry. Ophelia was in love with him. He had extremely loyal friends including Horatio who wanted to die to be with him, and he had not appeared to give his parent’s much grief prior to his father’s murder. Clearly, Hamlet’s character had not been tried in the fire prior to his father’s death and when that event occurred, followed by the even more important ghostly visitation of his father, Hamlet’s true colors started to show forth. He started a relatively moral person and became a murderer. Indeed, by the end he knew not what he was. While not an owl, he was no longer the Hamlet he was at the beginning of the events.

Horatio can argue Hamlet’s morality until the end of time (and he will), but murder is not moral. Hamlet caused the death of three people directly and one person indirectly. Polonious Hamlet stabbed in a fit of temper, thinking it was his uncle. He later had his two old friends killed. He did not hold the sword but he wrote the order. There is no difference. Ophelia he killed indirectly, first through neglect and second through killing her father. While she determined her time of death, Hamlet—not his uncle—set the chain of events into motion that resulted in her drowning.

It can be argued that Hamlet was justified in killing his uncle. Death for death is justice—not murder. I agree, therefore I am not counting that death as one of Hamlet’s murders and certainly Laertes is to blame for his own death and Gertrude’s death rests on her second husband’s head. However, if Hamlet had only accused his uncle and killed him immediately instead of dithering around, all the other deaths would have been avoided. That is the sin of vengeance. Hamlet wanted his uncle to die in his sins. Instead, Hamlet died in his.

Noble Hamlet? No; ignoble Hamlet. A lesson in morality.

Reading list

I've read the Bronze Bow enough, so I'll probably read the Immigration one next . . . but still join in on the Bronze Bow discussion.

I did go find that revised list. Are they all nonfiction after this? I still want to keep The House of Sixty Fathers on the more recent list, if we can.


Monday, March 30, 2009


In my head I gave myself one month with Hamlet and that seemed about right. So--for April we're doing The Bronze Bow.

If anyone disagrees, feel free to voice your opinion.

After Hamlet

We're reading The Bronze Bow next and then the Immigration book.

Yeah, I thought the main character in Brooklyn was annoying.

Thanks for explaining yourself. I was just curious.

I finished watching Hamlet last night and have some thoughts. I'll be posting soon.

Brooklyn and Year Down Yonder

I remember you LOVING the Peck books. I felt "bad" giving them only 3 stars. They just didn't do anything for me. They were great reads, I laughed out loud a few times, but I wouldn't say "You have to read these" to just anyone asking for a good book to read. Maybe I should have judged them higher, but they just weren't on my favs list.

As for a Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I have to ask YOU why you didn't like it before I defend myself. I LOVED that book. I guess it really made me think a lot more about the early 1900's in America, an era I haven't read much about and so it was intriguing to me. I fell in love with Francie and her family. I thought it was a very insightful and personal book.

I guess you could say I judge books according to the emotions and feelings they invoke inside of me. The Peck books were great stories, but no feelings. Brooklyn got much more personal for me. The key from Brooklyn I got was this quote, "Suffering is good . . . it makes a person rich in character," and I think that's what the book did for me. Through Francie's struggles I think may own character was strengthened. Character traits such as not judging those with less, working hard despite my own circumstances to reach my own potential, family unity & love, value of an education (another of my favorite sections of the book pp. 203-204); these are the qualities that sunk into my heart as I read. I will say that the analogy of the tree was a little far-fetched, but I love the title anyway. I took it more metaphorically of Francie being the tree, weak in her surroundings but made strong as she grew.

Is that a good enough explanation for you? :-)


So, I still need to watch Hamlet, I still need to write my own essay on the play as well.
What was the next book we decided to read? Isn't it different than our sidebar list? Let me know what you're reading.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good Reads Update


I got a good reads update from you and you gave 5 stars to a Tree Grows in Brooklyn which I never liked at all and only 3 stars to two of my favorite books by Richard Peck--A Year Down Yonder being one of my very favs.

So--explain yourself. I'm totally curious now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What I'm reading...

Hey guys!

How goes the reading? I have re-read the entire Anne of Green Gables series (too much time sitting on the couch nursing a baby!), I read "Inkheart", and a book my daughter's reading called "Ida B." that was pretty cute. I'm not reading anything too deep right now because I can't take notes while nursing and I just want to be able to relax and not think!

The baby is great! Thanks for asking. She'll be 1 month old on April 1st (no joke). She's a cutie and a pretty good baby!

Andrea - Julia told me about your blog publishing so I went and looked at the program you used. I am trying it with a blog made up of letters and photos from my sister-in-law while she was on her mission. I'm hoping it turns out! I was glad to hear that you liked the finished product - I'd been looking for some way to publish all those letters!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I am finishing Hamlet this weekend and watching it on Sunday (I hope). I'll be posting about it on Monday or Tuesday so I'll be ready to discuss it then.

And while we're discussing Hamlet--I'll be reading the next one. I think one a month is about where I'm at right now in my life. We'll see how that goes.

Kelly--how is that baby doing??

Another Book to Read

This book isn't for our book group to read, but it is an EXCELLENT love story with a twist of mystery. SO GOOD! It is called "The Season" by Sarah MacLean. Try it out . . . you'll read it in a day!

Friday, March 6, 2009



Hamlet Finished

I finished Hamlet. I forget how much I LOVE Shakespeare! I will be posting more on that later.

Have any of you read "The Willoughbys" by Lois Lowry? I'm reading it right now and it is HILARIOUS!!! Every child would laugh out loud at this one. Anyway, just thought I'd pass that on in case you haven't read it yet.

I'm trying to read a biography of Ann Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife.
The book "Ophelia" (a spin off of Hamlet) was okay . . . kind of melodramatic, but I guess so is Shakespeare, just Shakespeare has a more beautiful way of saying things! Anyway, it might be worth reading. Then again, probably not. :-)

I want to read another math book together (like Fermat's Enigma) someday, too.

OH! And for those who don't know, Kelly had her baby! A little girl, Natalie Grace was born on March 1st. So, she may be out of commission for a bit. Hope you're all doing well!