This guy. This fucking guy. I mean – way to make Christianity look like a fucking dick. It’s enough to put a person off religion entirely.
But then, I saw that video of the Pope talking with a little boy whose father was an atheist. The boy worried that his dad would not be in heaven because he hadn’t believed in God. And the Pope’s response was so kind, so emotionally attuned, so compassionate for this kid’s grief. The Pope (well, the current one anyway) is like the opposite of this shitty priest in Hamlet.
I’m trying to think of an instance when this could be a positive thing to say. Obviously, here, it is really shitty. Here, the priest is like, wrap it up! That’s it! My time’s up. Give me my funeral money, throw some dirt over the dead woman and let’s call this thing over.
But… you could say it when you were done with a piece of art – like a painting or the final draft of a play. I’m working on a draft of a play right now and I have to submit the changes to this thing tomorrow and at a certain point, despite wanting to work a great deal more on it, I will have to declare that no more be done.
I know, I know it was another time.
But I have reached my limit with all this virgin, maiden stuff in general. I cannot stand anymore the bits about women’s chastity being their honor, about their virginity being their virtue, about their unstained maidenhood being their honesty.
I absorbed all of that for decades and I absorbed a LOT of it, due to my lifelong love of Shakespeare, but I just can’t stomach it anymore.
I saw a production of A Winter’s Tale recently and had the same reaction I did to the last production of Othello I saw – and that was, “I’d be alright if this was the last production of this play I ever saw.”
I mean – Winter’s Tale has a LOT to offer.
The language is beautiful.
Paulina is fierce.
There’s a bear in it.
But the central premise is that the king thinks his wife is unfaithful and he’s wrong and everyone goes round explaining how he’s wrong but it doesn’t matter – because he thinks he’s not wrong.
And the whole time I’m thinking – So? What if she DID sleep with the King of Bohemia? It’s not actually that terrible. Not so terrible that the Oracle needs to be called and then have her put in prison and so forth.
I mean, sure, it would be terrible personally for the guy she cheated on – but – otherwise? A woman’s chastity is not a concern for the entire country.
Anyway – Ophelia’s virginity and maidenhood is striking me the same way right now.
There’s a special garland for virgins?
Special virgin flowers?
I mean, really?
We got to broadcast this girl’s sexual status at her funeral?! Ugh.
This priest is such a dick. He’s telling the mourning brother of a dead woman that if he had his way, he’d want rocks thrown on his beloved sister. And not just stones, no, sharp stones – stones that would hurt a living body in more ways than one.
It’s one thing to believe in hell and believe someone who killed themselves is going there but to say so to a grieving family member takes a particular breed of asshole.
This dude is in the wrong business. Or if he is in the right business then the business is much crappier than it’s purported to be. That is – Christianity bills itself as compassion and mercy and all sorts of charitable things but this priest is none of those things.
This line makes me want to throw stones at him.
It looks like our villain Claudius has done the right thing. The priest was persuaded to preside over an actual ceremony that he clearly objected to because the king insisted. If the king had not intervened, the priest would have had her thrown in a pit far away from any churchyard. And the priest would have definitely preferred that.
This is from my modern perspective, of course – and what I think of as a respect for Ophelia’s humanity. At the time, perhaps this move of Claudius’ is more proof of his willingness to subvert religious laws. He kills his brother, he hurries Polonius’ funeral rites and he’s sanctified a body that the priest thinks is a suicide. But to my eye now, that seems like a kindness to Laertes, who mourns her. Which – you know – points to a calculation on Claudius’ part. He may have persuaded the priest, not for Ophelia, but to keep Laertes from rioting again and staging another coup.
As Gertrude described it, Ophelia’s death sounds entirely like an accident – like a mad woman falling into a creek and not having enough sense to climb back out. There’s nothing in that speech that suggests Ophelia meant to off herself. She doesn’t fill her pockets with stones and wade into the water; she frolics around hanging wreathes on trees, falls in the water and just floats, and sings while she floats, and then she sinks.
Is Gertrude telling the truth? If she is – this whole “doubtful”ness of the death is bullshit.
If she isn’t – and she has quite a few reasons NOT to tell the truth – then we have to imagine an entirely different image for Ophelia’s last moments. If the priest is convinced she killed herself, she must have put some stones in her pockets, declared she was done with the world and either jumped or waded in.
And no one trying to kill themselves just floats around waiting to die. So the paintings of Ophelia are Gertrude’s painted image of the death, not what actually happened to her.
And what HAPPENED to those guys who were supposed to follow her?
Is it their fault?
Why is this guy called the First Priest? No other priest speaks in this scene. There is no mention of a second priest in the stage directions.
In other situations when there is only one of a kind of character speaking, he is just sailor or gentleman. One would think this priest would just be PRIEST. But he is FIRST PRIEST.
And his language is VERY overblown and obfuscating. I can see why Claudius might choose him for such an event. He’s a little Polonius-like. I mean, to say “obsequies” when Laertes has been asking for “ceremony” is just the beginning. Enlarged and warrantise are equally inflating. And then he goes on to be a real dick a few lines later – which maybe people miss because his language is so self obfuscating.
What’s funny though is that the language gets crystal clear when he’s at his worst. “Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her” is perfectly direct…but then he gets arch again immediately after.