I am glad of it.

My partner used to make fun of me for being such a Charles Dickens fan. He thought Dickens was all picturesque urchins and holiday sentimentality. Then I convinced him to read Bleak House and he discovered how much there was to love. He sent me hilarious up to the minute reactions to the book via text. His exclamations about Lady Deadlock were some of the best texts I’ve ever received.
We’ve had a kind of Dickens book club ever since. We don’t read them at the same time- but between us, we are both reading a Dickens novel and each of us reading one that the other has read before. I am reading Oliver Twist. He is reading Our Mutual Friend. And we are enjoying one another’s mutual journey through our respective books. We don’t talk much about politics or current events. We don’t talk about other people. We talk about Fagin and Riderhood, Mr. Bumble and Mr. Venus.

Now my partner rails at a culture that led him to believe that Dickens was a twee author reserved for carolers and ceramic villages.

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I understand you not, my lord.

Poor Rosencrantz. Does he really not understand or is he pretending not to understand?
If he doesn’t understand wouldn’t it have been wiser to ask exactly what Hamlet means? And if Hamlet had broken it down for him a bit, would he reconsider his position as resident toady for the King?
I mean, with Polonius gone, there’s no other obvious choice for company toady. Rosencrantz may be angling for the spying, sucking up position. And, of course, ends up dead. Osric steps in to the position later – and he lives, it would seem. One of the few to survive the play.

When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again.

This is actually a bit of good advice for Rosencrantz, if only he could heed it. I suspect that Hamlet has a lot of insight into how Claudius operates. He’s known him his whole life and he has likely seen this very pattern in action before. He knows what happens to people who suck up to Claudius.

And Rosencrantz has bet on the wrong horse here. He’s chosen to ally with Claudius. This makes me wonder what would have happened if Rosencrantz had chosen Hamlet. What if he’d actually owned up to the situation and said, “Look Hamlet, your mom and uncle brought us here. But we’re your friends and maybe we can help. I’ll tell the king whatever you think will keep him off your back. And if there’s spying you need done on them, I will do it for you. You have reason to be suspicious of us, of course. But I want you to know that I’m on your side and want to help you do whatever it is you need to do.” I mean – what would have happened? Tragedy averted?
I mean. Of course, it wouldn’t be a good play if that had happened but it feels like an interesting alterna-verse for these characters.

He keeps them, like an ape an apple, in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed, to be last swallowed –

Hamlet seems to know an awful lot about apes. Why? Are apes native to Denmark? I should think not. Nor to England either.
Maybe there’s a Danish Royal Zoo? Or a touring wild animal show? I am very curious about where this knowledge of apes comes from.
Or is it not knowledge? Just imagined ape behavior? This is such a specific image. It just feels like something Hamlet (or Shakespeare) witnessed.

Ay, sir, that soaks up the King’s countenance, his rewards, his authorities.

Ah. Yes. The soaking up of reflected glory. Sponge is rather a perfect metaphor for this. This is something we often see in assistants who enjoy the reflective power of their positions. You see it in all those Insider Hollywood stories. (Episodes, The Player, Entourage, The Comeback) There’s always that assistant who disappears into their boss – one who does his dirty work for him, who approves as s/he think he would approve or dismiss where s/he thinks he would dismiss. They can even look alike as the assistant, the sponge starts to soak up so much that his/her natural look is obscured by what it has absorbed.

Besides, to be demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by the son of a king?

It would be fun if Rosencrantz were played by Spongebob Squarepants. And maybe Patrick could be Guildenstern. I’m not familiar enough with the Spongebob universe to work out who the others might be. I mean – because SpongeBob is the hero – he probably should play Hamlet instead – but in THIS scene… it might be really fun to have Rosencrantz be an actual sponge.
Or maybe it needs to be object theatre – and Rosencrantz is played by a sponge or a loofa or a shower puff – something close to a sponge but not a sponge – and Guildenstern is played by steel wool or a bar of soap or a soapdish. Hamlet is maybe a spatula? I don’t know. I’d have to audition some objects. Something different from Rosencrantz and Gulidenstern. But of the same universe.

That I can keep your counsel and not mine own.

I used to take pride in this sort of thing. I could listen to someone’s secrets for hours and never reveal my own. Not to them, not to anyone.
But at a certain point, I realized that keeping my own secrets secret was hurting me more than protecting me. If I chose well, I could reveal myself to a friend and feel a profound relief, sure, on one hand, at having burst the bubble of silence – but also a real connection with someone, a mutual sense of knowing and sharing. It was a risk to share but that risk offered reward I hadn’t even been able to imagine. I risk more often than I horde now. I have learned how to reveal in safe places.

Do not believe it.

It feels laughable now but I was once fully convinced by the magical thinking of things like The Secret. I believed FULLY in the “leap and the net will appear” philosophy. But then I leapt and leapt and leapt and no net appeared and I ended up pretty bruised and broken up. There is value, sure, in optimism. It feels better, for one, than bruised pessimism. But…the whole hog, full force, throwing one’s self off of cliffs? It’s not a good idea. Be careful.