Thursday, November 7, 2013 Hamlet's Letter - Kline '90

In this extremely simple version of the scene, with a single silent sailor waiting behind Horatio, a mystery just as the contents of the letter, Kline cuts the lines about pirate ships, giving no real account of how Hamlet escaped his escort. The story works without this complication, of course, but makes the scene almost too simple to warrant an article about it. Perhaps that's our chance to discuss the text a little more, and how even a linking scene like this still has a poetry to it. Hamlet story (though here abridged) is about a reversal of fortune, an exile coming home rather than leaving it, and Shakespeare makes reversal a major theme of his short letter. Horatio is asked to COME to Hamlet speedily as if he was running away FROM death, the pursuer gaining the haste of the pursued. Hamlet's words will create silence. And so on. We should then see "these good fellows" as an ironic confirmation that the sailors are the pirates in the preceding story, and could even see a sly joke about Hamlet having much to say about two people who barely have enough content for a single character.

And of course, the greatest reversal of all is that this tiny scene is the pivot at the center of the play, turning the delaying Hamlet into the revenging Hamlet needed to bring the tragedy to a close.

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