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Arts of Hamlet

richard_dadd_-_hamlet_and_his_mother3b_the_closet_scene_-_google_art_project

The Hamlet and His Mother; The Closet Scene is an oil on canvas painting by Richard Dadd, done in 1846. It is currently held in Yale Center for British Art.

The image represents the conversation Hamlet had with Gertrude in the Queen’s chamber, when Hamlet sees the ghost of his father in Act III, scene iv, lines 2499-2529:

Enter the Ghost in his nightgown.

Hamlet. A king of shreds and patches!
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, laps’d in time and passion, lets go by
Th’ important acting of your dread command?
O, say!

Father’s 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.

Hamlet. How is it with you, lady?

Gertrude. Alas, how is’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
And with th’ encorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm,
Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements,
Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?

Hamlet. On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoin’d, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable.- Do not look upon me,
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects. Then what I have to do
Will want true colour- tears perchance for blood.

Gertrude’s expression is frightened and confused, and her body language conveys a sense of vulnerability. Hamlet, on the other hand, looks anxious and restless. His black hair and clothing contrasts strongly with his pale skin, which emphasizes his craziness and shock at seeing the ghost. Gertrude dresses in white and red, making her the more innocent and pure figure between the two. Her hands are gripping each other in a praying position. She has a resemblance to Mary, while Hamlet seems to be on the side of the devils. The painting quite accurately portrays the scene through their vivid facial expressions. Hamlet looks like his nerves are as tight as violin strings and he is running purely on madness. The protruding, coal black sword by Hamlet’s side adds a sense of danger to the scene. The atmosphere of the scene foreshadows doom of the two in the near future.

Picture from: Wikimedia Commons

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The Bad Hamlet

The “Bad Hamlet” is indeed quite entertaining. The first things I have noticed are the chopped names and soliloquies. Claudius and Gertrude are simplified to King and Queen. When the guards see the ghost during their watch, Horatio says the ghost “horrors me with fear and wonder”, whereas in the original version Horatio says “it harrows me with fear and wonder”. The person who wrote it down probably either had hearing problem or he was not as learned as we would have liked.

The King’s and Hamlet’s lines are mostly destroyed. Along with many other rich speeches written by Shakespeare, the King’s speech in which he asks Hamlet to stay home is cut half as short, making the plot seems to be going too fast. I enjoyed how the King calls Hamlet “princely son Hamlet” and he keeps calling the prince “son Hamlet” afterwards. Just like how Cassio in Othello keeps saying he is not drunk, the repeated use of “son” as Hamlet’s title makes me feel like the King is trying to convince everybody in the palace, including himself, that he is now Hamlet’s father. The copier probably was very confused by the meaning of the play, as he wrote “the rouse the King shall drink unto Prince Hamlet”. Then Hamlet’s internal conflict immediately after that is ruined by the hilarious exclamations like “such speed!”. All in all, the copier is just trying too hard.

 

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Havamal No. 21

21. Cattle know
when to go home,
and then from grazing cease;
but a foolish man
never knows
his stomach’s measure.

This advice means that cattle knows how much it can eat, so when it feels full it ceases eating and goes home. On the other hand, an idiotic man eats all he wants until he is full but he keeps eating. Number 21 can be interpreted in two different ways:

  • A foolish man does not understand himself, so he often either overestimates or underestimates himself.
  • Unknowing to him, a foolish man is falls to his greed, which is represented by the stomach.

We can use this advice often in life. Gaining an understanding of ourselves is one of the most important things that we can do. High school serves as a testing ground for finding out what we like and how much we can take without being overwhelmed by work. So in college, we will have a better grasp of our own abilities when choosing classes and activities. Failure to learn about ourselves can certainly lead to greed, since we would not know when to stop taking. Knowing how much is too much is a crucial skill in all aspects of life, no matter if it’s in relationships, conversations, or at dinner tables.

In the play Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, Caesar also needs to heed this advice. The general trusts in his power too much and ignores all signs of trouble, which eventually leads to his murder by his own men. Of course greed also plays a role in the play, in which Caesar would not stop expanding his power. People are intimidated by his supreme leadership, while others are revolted by it. However, I doubt that the proud Caesar would follow the Viking’s advice had he heard of it.

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Old Othello

The old prints of Othello have some interesting qualities that are worth discussing. Other than the fact that the people in Shakespeare’s time spell words differently, I think that there are some misprints in the First Folio. For example, there are many other instances of U and V getting mixed together. The word “vnkindly” just doesn’t make any sense. The printing shop probably read a copy of badly hand-written copy of Othello and thought the U was V and didn’t bother to check the work. Or maybe it’s for some whole other reasons. I like the ragged and yellowing appearance of the pages. The art work is also fairly well done. The first word of the line on the next page is reprinted at the lower right hand corner, which is probably to facilitate script reading, since actors can read continuously without having to pausing while turning the pages. (So then if Shakespeare is Japanese then the first word of the line on the next page would be on the lower left hand corner…?)

The contents of the plays are fairly similar to the modern version, but the older version is somehow much harder to read. There are many words that I am not sure if they are correctly spelled or misprinted. The old copies also put the characters’ names in lower cases and had them italicized. Nowadays in most play scripts I have seen the names are always in capital letters. Maybe it’s too much trouble to use the capital letters or that the larger letters would not have fit in the designated margins. It is interesting to see how we can deduce many things about the past people’s lives just from paper and ink.

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Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole was an American solo artist who passed away on December 31, 2015. After listening to several artists, I found Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky” especially interesting. The song was released on 1991 from the album “Unforgettable with Love”.  The song was originally recorded by Nat King Cole, and it was latter done by his daughter Natalie.

“Orange Colored Sky” by Natalie Cole

“Orange Colored Sky”

I was walking along
mindin’ my business
when out of the orange colored sky

Flash

Bam

Ali-ca-zam

wonderful you came by

I was hummin’ a tune
drinkin’ in sunshine
when out of that orange colored view

Wham

Bam

Ali-ca-zam

I got’a look at you
one look an i yelled “timber”
watch out for flying glass

Cause the celing fell in
and the bottom fell out
I went in to a spin
and i started to shout
“I’ve been hit, this is it, this is it”

I was walking along
mindin’ my business
when love came and hit me in the eye

Flash

Bam

Ali-ca-zam
out of the orange colored sky

well, one look and i yelled “timber”
watch out for flying glass

Cause the celing fell in
and the bottom fell out
I went in to a spin
and i started to shout
“I’ve been hit, this is it, this is it”

I was walkin’ along
mindin’ my business
when love came and hit me in the eye

Flash

Bam

Ali-ca-zam
out of that orange colored purple striped pretty green pocadot sky

Flash

Bam

Ali-ca-zam
And Coloooooooooooooooored sky

My first impression of the song was that it is so overwhelmingly cheerful. From its title “Orange Colored Sky” to its lyrics that contained an explosion of colors, the entire piece is vibrating with happiness. I especially like the line “Out of that orange colored purple striped pretty green pocadot sky”. It provides a strangely innocent image of what falling in love would be like. I also enjoyed the fast, driving part starting from “Cause the ceiling fell in”.
Natalie’s singing fully captures the lightning-like feeling when love strikes out of nowhere. The song has a joyful and innocent quality to it, which is being lost in today’s popular music. It captures like a high speed camera the moment of love at first sight that lasted a couple of seconds. After listening to so many popular breakup and seductive songs, this piece is a wonderful change.
*Lyrics from A-Z Lyrics
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Othello

ACT I

SCENE I. Venice. A street.

Enter RODERIGO and IAGO

RODERIGO

Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly
That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse
As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

IAGO

‘Sblood, but you will not hear me:
If ever I did dream of such a matter, Abhor me.

RODERIGO

Thou told’st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.

IAGO

Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capp’d to him: and, by the faith of man,
I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:
But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
Horribly stuff’d with epithets of war;
And, in conclusion,
Nonsuits my mediators; for, ‘Certes,’ says he,
‘I have already chose my officer.’
And what was he?
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife;
That never set a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows
More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
Wherein the toged consuls can propose
As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,
Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:
And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds
Christian and heathen, must be be-lee’d and calm’d
By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,
He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
And I–God bless the mark!–his Moorship’s ancient.

[…]

IAGO

‘Zounds, sir, you’re robb’d; for shame, put on
your gown;
Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is topping your white ewe. Arise, arise;
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you:
Arise, I say.

 

List of words:

Abhor – regard with disgust and hatred

Epithet – An adjective or phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned

Squadron – An operational division of an armored regiment, with two or more troops.

Spinster – An unmarried woman, usually quite old

Toged – obsolete, incomparable

Prattle – Baby babble

Ancient – An officer next in rank to a lieutenant

Hangman – Young rascals

Affined – Related or connected

Tush – Expressing disapproval, an exclamation

Grandsire – Grandfather

 

Translation:

 

RODERIGO

Ughh no! Do not tell me, I am mad

That you, Iago, who has had a connection with me

As if you were the one controlling my affairs, should know about this

IAGO

But you will not hear me:

If I ever dream of this, make me feel disgusted.

RODERIGO

You told me that you hate him.

IAGO

Hate me, if I do not. There are three great men in the city,

Each trying to make me his lieutenant,

People know in their hearts,

I know my own abilities, I am deserving of this position:

But he; following his own sense of pride and intentions,

Ignores them, with a bad circumstance,

Horribly filled with attributes of the war;

And, finally,

Against my mediators; for, ‘Certes,’ he says,

‘I have already chosen my officer.’

And who was the officer?

Forsooth, a great mathematician,

Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow undeserving of his beautiful wife;

He never led a troop in the field,

Nor does he know how a battle works

More than a old unmarried woman; except for theories in books,

Which can be thought of by obsolete scholars

As good as he is: only childish talking, no actual experience,

The only reliable ability in him. But he, sir, had been chosen:

And I, whose eyes had seen places

At Rhodes, at Cyprus and in other sites

Christian and other religious people, must be taken care of

By debitor and creditor: this one who keeps accounts,

He, having the luck, is Othello’s lieutenant,

And I am — Dear God above! — the black Muslim’s officer under the lieutenant.

[…]

IAGO

Get up, sir, you have been cheated on; this will be shameful to you, put on your gown;

Your heart is hurt badly, you have lost your dearest treasure;

Even now, now, right now, an old black male goat

Is doing shameful things with your pure white sheep. Get up, get up;

Wake up the city with alarm,

Or the devil will take full advantage of you:

Get up, I say again.

 

Figures of Speech:

Alliteration “counter-caster” further adds a mocking tone to Iago’s speech about Cassio.

The metaphor “old black ram” means Othello while “white ewe” means Desdemona. By comparing Othello to a black ram, Iago implies that Othello is no better than an animal driven by instinct. Even though “white ewe” signifies purity, by comparing the couple to farm animals, Iago shows that he does not regard them highly.

(I translated the first 32 lines but there weren’t much figurative speech in there so I added another part of Iago’s line).

 

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The Imitation Game

“The Imitation Game” is an elegant combination of thrilling enigma challenge faced by Turing and heart wrenching love stories that are developed beautifully throughout the film. Played by Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, Turing is brought back to life as a living human being instead of a mere historical figure whose presence eroded away with time. Looking at the basic plot line, the film is about Turing’s machine and a socially awkward man who devoted his entire life to his creation. Director Morten Tyldum cleverly portrays such a seemingly simple story by creating a storm of emotions that are made possible through the actors’ extraordinary chemistry and delivery. The sentiments serve to touch the audience and make them feel as if Turing is someone they have known all their life and cared deeply about.

The chemistry between Joan Clarke (Keira Knightly) and Turing is quite complicated and best depicted at the last scene, which is my personal favorite. The film successfully educates the public and honored Turing as a war hero. It is a breeze of fresh mountain air that blows through the greasy atmosphere of our pop culture today.