March 11, 2010

I have something in me dangerous

(Goat Rope is almost done with Hamlet, but you can skip to the links if Shakespeare doesn't do it for you.)

Ordinarily, you don't want a lot of drama at a funeral. Dealing with death is enough of a task. But, this being Shakespeare and all, there is quite a bit at Ophelia's funeral.

Hamlet's banter with the gravedigger is interrupted by a funeral procession which turns out to be hers. Her brother Laertes is already outraged by the abbreviated funeral rights, which are due to the questionable nature of her death. In the past, suicides were typically denied Christian burial and hers could have been interpreted as such.

Laertes curses Hamlet, who he blames for her madness:

LAERTES: O, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head,
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Deprived thee of! Hold off the earth awhile,
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms:

(Leaps into the grave)
Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
Till of this flat a mountain you have made,
To o'ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.

Hamlet then announces himself and leaps into the grave himself. Laertes goes wild and tries to choke him. Hamlet has a great response, one that I hope to use next time somebody chokes me:

I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat;
For, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I something in me dangerous,
Which let thy wiseness fear: hold off thy hand.

He claims a far greater grief for her that Laertes (not that either of them did her a lot of good):

'Swounds, show me what thou'lt do:
Woo't weep? woo't fight? woo't fast? woo't tear thyself?
Woo't drink up eisel? eat a crocodile?
I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine?
To outface me with leaping in her grave?
Be buried quick with her, and so will I:
And, if thou prate of mountains, let them throw
Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou'lt mouth,
I'll rant as well as thou.

Methinks he doth protest too much. Eventually, the two are separated and it's pretty clear that the trouble between them isn't over.

THE WAITING is the hardest part, as philosopher Tom Petty noted some time ago. Lately, unemployed workers have been waiting longer than at any other time on record before they find another job.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, the Senate yesterday passed a bill extending unemployment benefits and other provisions aimed at spurring recovery.

CONTRARY TO WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD, most Americans want changes to health care.

WHO'D A THUNK IT? It might be possible to generate electricity from "bottled air" stored underground.


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