Hamlet Painting

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This is the painting Hamlet in the Queen’s chamber by William Salter Herrick. It was created in 1857 and is an oil on canvas. Its a very large painting (roughly 4 x 5 feet) and was housed in the London Royal Academy for some time.

This painting represents exactly what the title would imply: Hamlet in his mothers chambers. In Act III, Scene 4, Hamlet visits his mother and criticizes everything she has done. During his speech, his fathers ghost appears only to him. That makes him seem even more crazy as he talks to this apparition that the queen cannot see. It represents this conversation.

HAMLET

A king of shreds and patches—

                                                                Enter GHOST

Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,

You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious figure?

GERTRUDE

Alas, he’s mad!

HAMLET

Do you not come your tardy son to chide,

That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by

The important acting of your dread command?

O, say!

GHOST

 Do not forget. This visitation

Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

But look, amazement on thy mother sits.

O, step between her and her fighting soul.

Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.

Speak to her, Hamlet.

Herrick paints an image that perfectly describes that scene. Hamlet looks crazy. The queen looks frightened and worried. Polonius is lying on the floor behind them with the sword Hamlet used to kill him next to him. And the ghost is there; barely visible on the right side, but there.

I really like all the detail the artist put into the painting. Having all the characters there is really important to portray the scene correctly. Also, the facial expressions of the characters is key to showing how a person interprets the story. In this painting, Hamlet really does look crazy (but who wouldn’t be if you could see something that others claim they cannot?). How Herrick painted the ghost interesting; rather than be fully present, the ghost is barely seen. At first glance, someone could easily miss the ghost and just see Hamlet looking crazed. But, I suppose that has purposefully done to show that maybe Hamlet was losing it. Maybe the ghost wasn’t really there. Or maybe it was; its all up to interpretation. Which this artist didn’t help by leaving it questionable.

Overall, I think this an amazing painting that has a ton of detail. Herrick was very talented and really portrayed all that is happening in this scene.

“Bad” Version of Hamlet

Recently I was told to go and admire the badness of Hamlet (Shakespeare) in Quarto 1. Apparently, it is known for is outright awfulness and is thought to be a pirated or first draft of Hamlet. After scanning through, I agree its pretty bad; however, I’m no scholar of Shakespeare so I cant determine how bad by any means. First off, after scanning I noticed that the character ‘Polonius’ is refereed to as ‘Corambis’ which is weird. Also ‘Reynoldo’ is now ‘Montano’ which is also confusing if you’ve read Othello. But those seem like minor details to me.

One of the most famous speeches in all of Shakespeare’s play is Hamlets “to be or not to be” speech. In normal copies of the play, this occurs in the 3rd act after establishing why Ophelia ‘randomly’ runs into Hamlet. However, in this version it happens in Act I, scene 7 and throws that whole scene off. Instead of it focusing on one or two things, it jumps all around and it filled with all kinds of randomness. It becomes of jumble of important plot points all wrapped into to one scene (not a good plan). Guilderstone and Rossencraft are mixed in that scene(about being spies), with Corambis talking to Hamlet (fishmonger) after he talks to Ofelia (go to a nunnery), and then the players of the play Hamlet is planning are also present. Basically its a mess of things thrown it to one scene.

Also in Quarto 1 is the stage directions; they are weird. (enter the ghost in his nightgown?) Besides that, the scene I previously mentioned has one part that of stage directions missing that seems pretty small but it helpful. When Hamlet first enters the scene, it just says he enters. However, in copies now it says he enters reading a book. In Quarto 1, I suppose it doesn’t really change that scene all that much; its a mess anyways. But, in copies now, it helps establish the ‘craziness’ Hamlets has fallen into. Hamlet reads the book while talking to Polonius/ Corambis and then starts talking about the words and their meanings. Essentially, showing the audience he’s kinda losing it. And that’s not there in Quarto 1; which makes the play even more ‘bad’.

Besides missing parts, changing names, and bad stage directions, I’m sure there is other stuff missing/ changed that adds to the badness of that version. Those are just a few examples I found that stuck out to me.

Hávamál- stanza 22

Recently I was led to the “art of manliness” webpage, and the 80 Viking Wisdom Sayings article. These saying are known as the “Havamal,” or “Sayings of the High One.” It is a basically a huge collection of Norse poems that offers advice. After looking through some, I found verse 22 very interesting to me. It says:

A miserable man,
and ill-conditioned,
sneers at every thing;
one thing he knows not,
which he ought to know,
that he is not free from faults.

I took that saying to mean (in modern English): a rude person who judges and thinks they are above everyone else is foolish. They cannot see that they themselves have faults too.

I like that saying/reminder a lot. Its very important to remember not to criticize other people for things they do or have. Not only does it make a person look bad, but it also makes them seem like they belittle everyone around them. And they also seem to forget that they themselves have just as many faults as those around them. I think that while off to college or having any new experience it is important to remember that advice. Everyone is in the same boat in college, new and (for the most part) having no idea what to do. No one is better than anyone else. If they think they are, then they are probably blind to their faults.

In literature, a connection could be made to Brother Jack in The Invisible Man. He critiques the narrator numerous times, telling him exactly what to do and how to do it. Though Jack seems to be trying to better the narrator, he criticizes him and everything he does. At the same time, Brother Jack is blinded (literally) to his own flaws, as well as the Brotherhoods problems. All that ultimately leads to bigger problems for everyone.