I have a problem that’s keeping me awake. The problem enters my dreams and the constant wrestling with the issue heightens my awareness of the paradox of choice. Too much choice and we are paralyzed, too little choice and we rebel. Hamlet is my problem. For that matter, Hamlet has a problem, but more on that later. My problem is this: I have to make a choice about the introduction and study of the play. How shall I meaningfully approach the study of the world’s most significant play, this “artistic failure” as T. S. Eliot so profoundly pronounced, in only four weeks? Do I focus on the problems of revenge and the three main revenge plots of the play? Or do I focus on Hamlet’s inability to take action? Do I focus on the nature of tragedy and death? The play opens with death and the bodies accumulate from there: Hamlet’s failure and death, Ophelia’s sacrifice and death, Polonius’ death, Rozencrantz and Gildenstern’s death, Gertrude’s death, Claudius’ death…the whole play seems to be an examination of life in death…or death in life. (I wonder if chiasmus comes from the root “chi” meaning “life force”?) Or on the existential nature of being?
Ah, Hamlet! How shall I be with thee? That is the question!
Yet in truth, I am glad (understatement) for the experience despite the challenge ahead.