On Hamlet and Good Intentions

The path to hell is paved with good intentions. This is my summation of the masterpiece penned by Shakespeare hundreds of years ago. (I’ll leave the theories on whether Shakespeare really existed for another post.)  Rebecca and I went to go see Hamlet tonight at Forest Park’s Shakespeare in the Park tenth annual production.

Nowhere is the twistedness of the human heart more visible than on stage.  This was actually my first time seeing Hamlet beginning to end.  I saw Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead before Hamlet years ago when a friend of mine appeared in the play.  At that time I had to make due with the 5-Minute Hamlet to understand the play.  But the 5-minute version just looks like a bunch of people randomly killing each other –kind of like a bank shoot-out; you don’t get the full affect.  The power lies in the character motivation.

It’s the work of a true genius, a play where the main deed can appear to be so just, so clear –in this case, avenging a father’s murder– while simultaneously turning it so quickly into a display of a person’s complete and utter ruining.  At first you have no doubt in your mind that the cause is just, that the father’s ghost –who informs Hamlet of his own murder– is real (and really his father), and that the main character’s cause is good, just as the character himself no doubt does.  But as time goes on, Hamlet himself begins wondering if the ghost was the making of the devil, as it seems to have driven him to cause so much pain. In such a case, how could it have been good intentioned?  Or even worse: was the ghost a complete making of his imagination?  In which case, there is no one else to blame.

Henry Fuseli - Hamlet and his father's Ghost (1780-1785, ink and pencil on cardboard)

There are so many parallels to life in a story like this.  I don’t believe I can begin to scratch the surface.  How many ghosts appear in our own lives?  How many of them do we believe at first, and later find them to be wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Needless to say, I highly recommend Hamlet.  Please go before Sunday to see this great production!  8 P.M. at Forest Park.