Where is your son?

YOUR son. A formal YOUR.
No thy son here.
No OUR son
No MY son, definitely. (Something he was wont to try to employ earlier)
And an abrupt change in subject as well.
“Hey baby what’s wrong? Tell me what’s bothering you? Where’s that guy I’m mad at?”

And I appreciate how the Queen manages to respond to none of these things. She has the politician’s skill of not answering questions put to her.


These profound heaves You must translate.

And here Claudius makes his big mistake with his wife.
He does not comfort her in her obvious distress.
Instead of taking her hand or embracing her
He gives her an order – using the formal 2nd person “You.”
He doesn’t even ASK her why she’s sighing.
He just tells her she must use her words
And then doesn’t give her time to answer.
His first question is about Hamlet’s location – not her state of mind.
I wonder, if Claudius were better able to be with his wife in her suffering, might he have kept her trust?

There’s matter in these sighs.

It’s a rare sigh that does not have matter in it. This moment is interesting in that Gertrude is clearly sighing, clearly upset and her husband doesn’t say, “What’s the matter?” “What happened?” or “What can I do?”
He doesn’t comfort her at all. He just states the obvious and tells her what to do.

There’s a question of whether there was or is genuine love or even lust between these two characters and I wonder if that’s a question for Gertrude, as well. When she begins this scene sighing, is she hoping Claudius will comfort her, ease her distress and/or fears?

He doesn’t.

Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

Well that IS unfortunate!
You mean you don’t get a pass just for saying the prayer? You have to mean it, too?
Like, when someone is forced to apologize for something he’s done and he says, “Sorry” with a tone that suggests he is not in the least bit sorry. Then if it’s a parent doing the compelling, then the parent has to somehow get across the idea that you have to MEAN it, too. Or at least SOUND like you mean it.
The trick is – with heaven – I guess you couldn’t get away with just SOUNDING penitent. Apparently God can see your thoughts, too – so you not only have to sound like you mean it but also actually mean it. Because HE’LL know. Which – wow – talk about never getting a moment alone!
And what a big job – to read the actual thoughts of all people. I would not want that gig. TMI!

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.

There are times when I wish I were a cartoonist. I’d create a panel for this line wherein a dialogue bubble would be at the top of the frame and a thought bubble would hover just around the subject’s head. He’d be kneeling in prayer and the dialogue bubble would feature some standard forgiveness prayer, while the thought bubble would feature lines like, “Am I really sorry? I’m glad to be the king! I’m a good king! I like being married to Gertrude! I’d kill him again, that bastard. He didn’t deserve her or his crown! Damn it. Forgive me for I have sinned – and what good sinning it was. No – wait, stop, I’m sorry, I don’t want to go to hell – that’s the thing. Do you think I could enjoy my life now and skip the hell part? Forgive me? No. Wait, stop. I’m sorry. I don’t want to go to hell – that’s the thing. Do you think I could enjoy my life now and skip the hell part? Forgive me? No. Wait. . .”

All may be well.

The qualified happy ending.
When I asked my former directing teacher what he felt was particularly challenging for his students, he said that they’re all convinced that everything should work out in the end. They’re pretty sure all will be well. I was one of his students once and I remember feeling this way. I was keen on unqualified happy endings. I liked a good clean wedding at the end of a comedy. All’s well that ends well.
Except even All’s Well The Ends Well doesn’t really end WELL.

There’s some evidence that as humans, we judge the quality of something by how it ends. We imagine we’d want a shorter life that ended well rather than a longer one with a terrible one. We judge the quality of a life by its final moments. Which is a bit silly – because very few people’s final years are their best – and very few people end with unqualified happiness.

So this one – this assurance that all MAY be well – well, that seems like a more useful idea. We don’t have to be entirely pessimistic and face down in nothing but darkness but we don’t have to pretend there’s no darkness either.
All MAY be well or it may not.
It’s the mature happy ending.

Bow, stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel, Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe.

He won’t let many touch his steel stringed heart. It takes a practiced hand with lots of callouses to play those strings. The music that can emerge is beautiful but it takes an accomplished player to pluck it out.
What was his heart like before?
Were the strings pliant and flexible?
Could anyone with a bit of skill make them sound?
Was it all melody?
All harmony?
All music?
The heart at the center of the body resonating everywhere.

Make assay.

It’s interesting to plead for help and then ask for an assessment. Is an assessment a form of help? How?
Is it that the angels look into his soul and find either a) potential for redemption or b) irrevocable evil and he wants to know which it is so he doesn’t waste any time repenting in case it’s the latter? I mean, if he’s going to hell anyway – he probably figures, why lose out on the benefits of my crime?
It’s just – funny – I feel like you ask angels for help with mercy, with forgiveness, with finding the keys to your castle but for an evaluation? Not so much. Or at least I wouldn’t.

Help, angels!

I had a Book on Angels years ago. I was in my late 20s and feeling very lost. I bought this book about angels and did all the exercises. I had a notebook in which I wrote to the angels and the angels wrote to me. I remember crying a lot because it felt like my angel said some things that really touched me and made me feel comforted and hopeful. I had, though, a simultaneous experience of feeling like I was probably just writing to myself and making myself cry by comforting myself in just the way I needed comforting. And I thought, well, I’ll just believe this for now – because it is helping me – and if this is a fiction – it is a fiction that will help guide me out of dark period.

I am still grateful to that angel, though. From this distance I feel, more than ever, that it was just a part of me, a wiser part of me, that the idea of an angel could help me understand.