What is Horatio doing in this scene?
Why is he here? Why is he with Gertrude? And why is he giving her political advice? Hamlet’s been sent to England – so Horatio is no longer in the Danish court as Hamlet’s friend. He could have allied himself with the Queen as a way to help Hamlet while he’s gone. But he could ALSO have been sent for, just like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He could be a spy. Just a much better one than Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ever were.
What if Horatio is just as ambitious as anyone else and is aiming at a Polonius type job? What is he’s working as an advisor to the king type role in whatever court he can find his way into? What if he’s NOT Hamlet’s true friend as he is so often thought of – but as ambitious a climber as Macbeth?
When he tells the story to Fortinbras at the end…it could be an attempt to find his way into the new court there at Elsinore.
I don’t meant to sully Horatio’s good name but I am really baffled about his presence in this scene and this manner of speaking to the Queen.
I tried to save myself some time with technology. I got this super fancy pen that recorded what I wrote into typed text. I was really excited about it. I imagined a future in which no time would pass between writing and publishing of things.
And it worked. More or less. But I found that I had to go a lot slower. I had to write more slowly, carefully – so that the software could understand me and convert my text more accurately.
And in slowing down and becoming more deliberate about what I was setting down, I had too much time to think. That is, in the little time it took to make me more careful, my inner critic suddenly had a window to observe what I was doing and to offer all kinds of unhelpful thoughts about it.
Normally I write without stopping much. I just GO and don’t quit until I’m done. But with the pen recording everything and making all things equal, I found myself stopping all the time. I got particularly hung up when I suddenly wanted to make an edit. If I hated the previous word, I couldn’t cross it out, it had already happened. I couldn’t draw an arrow to the previous thought and sneak it in the previous sentence. I had to think only ahead, straight ahead. The pen meant I was linear, no matter what. It was a stern (though quiet) admiral, watching my every word emerge – and insisting, too, that I keep marching ahead, even if it was check each word (will that be legible later? Is that REALLY the right word there? Did you really just write “write” instead of “right”? Well, that mistake is now part of your narrative.) Every single mis-step is noted as well as your good ones. If you had any good ones.
So – while the pen noted all that I did very well, in the end, it also inhibited my thought and the flow. So I’ve retired it for my writing writing and will find some other (less creative) use for it.
The way this project goes for me is that I write these things by hand, in my notebook. It takes a long time to get all that I’ve written typed, so I usually don’t make contact with these things until at least 6 months have passed.
Then, it tends to be another year before what has been typed makes its way to the
There are two encounters with these words at two very different points in the
All that is to say that I encountered this very same line last night in one of
those two fixed points. Whether l posted it or typed it, I can’t be entirely sure-but
i feel sure l only recently read essentially this same line from Horatio at an earner point in the play.
In that process, I re-meet the play, circling back around on itself and also myself, circle
back around on myself-where I thought something before or encountered this
line with my particular lens on that day-and then I circle back again, re-encountering me and Horatio and the play all at once.
It would seem that theatre companies used to actually make money. We know that Shakespeare was a shareholder in his. I wonder if there were shareholders who weren’t PART of the company. Were there theatre company investors?
We don’t really HAVE investors in theatre anymore.-just patrons and donors. I wonder what would happen if we could come up with a legitimate investment scheme with Theatres. Would we get more investment in a metaphoric sense? Or would it simply become another empty exercise in moneymaking?
Wait- how is that different from most of the American theatre now?
Maybe we just need to be honest about it. Most theatres simply exist to benefit the patrons’ and their friends – the rest of you be damned.
But what would happen if a tiny company like mine had some Actual investors? Would we actually be able to make more work? Find some recognition? Or something?
So if he steals anything – i.e. glances, looks, composure – and Horatio misses it, he’ll make up for it somehow. How, though?
If he stole a watch under his watch, I can see that he would pay for the watch, or give his own watch to make up for it.
This metaphor, though, is not that clear.
Unless, of course, it’s one of those old sayings that is based on something literal and everyone understands the metaphor because it is a familiar trope.
Like, if “I will pay the theft” were a catch phrase or an idiom.
The riff on it would be “Whilst this play is playing” – which is a delightful bit of phrase –
I like that things go on whilst a play is playing. Certainly a lot goes on with theatre folk whilst a play is playing. But certainly, too, audiences have experiences while plays play. Things go on outside the theatre, too, while plays play.
I write these things and about 6 or 7 months later, I get to typing them up and another year after that, I post them on the blog. This is a kind of curious time traveling. I am often confronted with things I wrote 1.5 years ago and I have to wonder if I still stand behind them.
The post I wrote originally for this line was raw and full of an up to the minute crisis. It was a hope for all to be well. I know now that that crisis has long ago been resolved. It was well. It is well. Time turns things around. And while, at the time, I was all ready to publish any and all details about the crisis, new, with distance, I’m not so keen.
That post was more a message to myself – a message to the future me. So I’m writing a new one to tell you about these little time jumping communications I have with myself and I will type it up quickly because this is where the line must go in the progression of posting.
A time jumping post from the past is replaced by one that tells you what isn’t here. And this one is one of the very few up the moment posts. It is all well now. I hope it may be well in the future, too.
Which begs the question – what in the world has happened to Horatio? What is this all he has suffered? Is he a refugee from somewhere where his country has been ravaged? Has he lost his wife and family like Macduff? Has he endured disease? Did he see his parents murdered?
And what were the rewards? Did he stumble upon great wealth only to lose it?
Did he have a great romance only to lose his love?
Was he a prince who lost his state?
We don’t have many facts about Horatio. This sense of his poverty and being thrown about by fortune comes only from Hamlet. Horatio himself is a bit blank.
It is remarkable how little Horatio says to Hamlet. He mostly does a lot of listening. That may be one of the reasons Hamlet trusts him and finds him just.
This scene covers two pages in my text and Horatio says this line (which he doesn’t get to complete) and one more. Otherwise, it’s all Hamlet talking – mostly About Horatio.
I’ve certainly been in relationships like this – where I say almost nothing and listen for two pages – sometimes about myself. But I rarely feel truly known by the people who speechify about me.
We don’t learn much about Horatio from Horatio. Hamlet tells us he is poor and just, that he suffers, that he’s a good friend. It’s not much. Horatio functions a lot like a good projection screen.
I’m completely ready to see an Addams Family Hamlet now.
Horatio is clearly Lurch.
Hamlet, Mr. Addams.
Uncle Fester would play Claudius.
Mrs. Addams would play Gertrude – which would make that whole Oedipal thing really pop.
Pugsley and Wednesday would be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Cousin It is the Ghost.
Thing would play Laertes.
But who will be Polonius and Ophelia?
Do Wednesday and Pugsley double? Yeah, that may be our best bet.
Maybe Pugsley in drag for Ophelia and Wednesday in a long beard for Polonius.
I would watch this show.
The Addams Family Hamlet?
Hell to the yes!
But we might need to go back in time and make it with either the original cast or the cast of Addams Family Values, who would be extremely hard to top.
Too many things are not wondrously strange.
There are many strange things. The world seems full of strange contradictions, mismatched alliances, malformed justices, odd clothing, curious furniture, reality television’s popular formula structures but wondrous strange things. . .
Well, those take some searching. As the culture seems to smooth itself out – as people become more like each other by habit or dress, by product or program, the oddities must be found in the cracks, things to wonder at must be found within or far afield.
I discovered not long ago that I had an image of a spool of thread in my throat and coughing it up was a wonder beyond compare in my internal landscape.
Last month, we watched a film in a cathedral. Each thing blended into another – a cow in the surf of the ocean became bones and the disappeared – in the background a high school choir chanted music in the sanctuary.
That too was wondrous strange and also lovely.