Friday, August 20, 2010

The Bard and Descendant Duties

My recent explorations into the works of Shakespeare has led me to take another look at Hamlet.

Hamlet has been fenced in by centuries of scholarly analysis so everything I say in this post is probably already out there somewhere. I doubt there's really anything new that can be said about Hamlet. But here's my take on it anyway.

Now that I'm dad, I see everything in a new way. The interactions of Hamlet and his family now makes me wonder how much we owe our families? Do we as parents ask too much of our children? Are we in some way bound to honor each others requests just because we are family? Is it our duty to oblige those we are descended from?

All of Hamlet's problems come to him because his family members make demands of him. He's basically just a solipsistic college kid who has grim responsibilities heaped on him until he buckles up the strain. I see that as the tragedy of the play. This young guy never gets a chance to live his life, never gets to fall in love because of his father's angry spirit, his uncle's murderous intrigues, and his mother's weird Oedipal thingamajiggy.

Of course, it's just a play, an expressionistic rendering of reality. But still, the plot of Hamlet could read as a cautionary tale for parents. It says don't place your burdens on your children no matter how pissed off you are. It says don't make unreasonable requests of your kids. Otherwise, you and your whole family end up stabbed and/or poisoned!

Listening To: Pacer by The Amps

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