So that, with ease, Or with a little shuffling, you may choose A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice Requite him for your father.

As I was looking up “unbated” on Etymology Online, I worked out for myself its roots. Of course…the opposite of unbated is bated. And bated is usually heard in relationship to breath, a withheld breath, a limited breath is bated. So a sword in fencing is usually bated – that is held back, blunted from its usual fullness to a limited version of itself. So this sword meant to kill Hamlet is unbated, un-leashed, unbound – the full expression of sword-ness.


We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence And set a double varnish on the fame The Frenchman gave you, bring you in fine together And wager on your heads.

Claudius suddenly gets real clear and direct once he starts planning. He’s all double talk and long clauses in longer sentences until a plan kicks in and then SPLAT. This is it. Crystal clear. As if he had it ready. But he can’t have had this plan ready, can he? He didn’t seem to know about Laertes’ return. Or Hamlet’s. He thought this was all over. And then Laertes turns up, ready to claim the throne and while Claudius is putting out THAT fire, Hamlet sends a letter that he’s back and ready for a reckoning.

All these years, I’ve thought of this as just a plan to get rid of Hamlet but it occurs to me now that this plan is ALSO a clever way to get rid of Laertes, who is also a threat. He can either get rid of Laertes by accusing him of murdering his nephew once the deed is done – or by getting him killed with an unbated sword in the duel. Maybe even slip Laertes the poisoned drink when he’s not paying attention.

Hamlet return’d shall know you are come home:

– Oh, by the way, Osric, Laertes has come home. Did you hear?

– Oh, what? Laertes has come home? No, I didn’t hear that Laertes had come home. I hear he’s pretty good at fencing.

– Pretty good? Why he’s impossible to beat! A French guy came through here recently and he could not shut up about how good at fencing Laertes is.

– How good is he?

– Why he’s so good, all the best fencers are lining up to get a chance to play with him.

– And he’s home now, did you say?

– He’s home.

– I bet that Hamlet wouldn’t want to challenge him.

– No?

– No – I mean, he’s so good. He would be hard to beat.

– You mean, Laertes. Who is at home.

– Yes, Laertes. Who’s just come home.

But good Laertes, Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.

Go to your room, Laertes!
And stay there, like a good boy, until I tell you to come out.

It is remarkable how easily Laertes goes from starting a coup to being told to go to his room and be quiet. I mean, Hamlet has his flaws – but he sees right through Claudius. I suppose that’s why he’s the hero of this play – rather than Laertes. Guys who get played like this aren’t actually that like-able.

Revenge should have no bounds.

I imagine it FEELS as though it should have no bounds. If you’ve been wronged enough to seek revenge, you probably feel like anything you do to revenge it will be entirely justified.

Revenge must feel a bit like the first stages of falling in love wherein nothing matters but the person who continually occupies your thoughts. Love wants no bounds on it either in those first flushes.

But…society does require some boundaries. We don’t really want to see every pair of new lovers going at it in the street. And we definitely don’t want everyone who has been wronged going around and seeking revenge. Revenge should have more bounds than most other things, really.

No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;

This is an interesting construction. It would seem to suggest, by context, that Claudius thinks no church should be excluded from being on the list of places a person can murder. BUT – if this sentence stood on its own, it would seem to say something else entirely.

Murder is the active word here, and the subject. Without context, he would seem to be at first agreeing with Laertes, because he says “indeed.” But murder is doing the sanctuarizing. Almost as if a place could be consecrated by murder, by blood.

Like, no place should be sanctified by blood. No place should be turned into a sanctuary BY murder – when he would seem to really be saying – no place should be a sanctuary from murder. But it’s hard to see that exactly in the sentence. It’s very curious.

But I suppose religion has been known to be quite bloody and not exactly free from murder…so I suppose there might be some hypocrisy to point at with a sentence like this.

What would you undertake, To show yourself yourself father’s son in deed More than in words?

Uh. I don’t know, King Claudius – how about attempting a coup – coming in armed and dangerous, with a slew of supporters ready to crown me King Laertes? How’s that for a deed?

I mean, that’s maybe why this scene is so long (in addition to the scene that we don’t see, where Claudius is working on Laertes to explain what happened) Claudius has to manipulate Laertes so far so that he forgets his inclination to depose him and to turn that whole impulse toward Hamlet. That shit takes time.

Hamlet comes back.

This could be the title of a sequel.

The Prince of Denmark, Part 2: Hamlet comes back.
It’s a zombie film, obviously.
Hamlet rises from his tomb where Fortinbras has buried him. He has been buried alongside the rest of the royal family. When he rises, his father and uncle have already arisen, along with his mother who has watched them tear one another apart. She appeals to her son to help her upon his zombie awakening but he’s not so keen. Instead he goes on the hunt for Zombie Ophelia who has been buried by her brother and father. Over protective in her life, they have become extremely so in her death and are prepared to keep Hamlet from her at any cost. However, death has freed Zombie Ophelia from her previous subjected state and she will not hesitate to use a relative’s thigh bone to bash her way toward what she wants.
King Fortinbras is a bit of an absent ruler as he now has several countries to look after and simply does not have time to deal with the Zombie infestation at Elsinore. He has left Horatio in charge, who is quite conflicted about his loyalties to his old (now zombified) friend and his obligation to King Fortinbras.
In this play, it is Horatio who has the bulk of the soliloquies, as he is the human with something to solve.

And this “should” is like a spendthrift sigh, That hurts by easing.

When does a sigh hurt?

Perhaps if you have a broken rib, that release of breath could press on your injury and hurt you.

Or if your throat is sore and the air moving past feels like blades running into your tonsils.

Most of the time, though, a sigh is a release of hurt. It may open the floodgates of tears. It may crack open a heart. It may reveal a truth and that truth might hurt, I suppose.

And a spendthrift sigh? A wasted sigh? Why might a sigh be wasted? The sighs of an unrequited lover – are they wasted?

I think most sighs are for the good.