Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Hamlet by William Shakespeare - Book Review

Publisher's write-up:

'Hamlet, one of the great tragedies of William Shakespeare, is woven around a simple plot of murder and revenge. It tells the story of Prince Hamlet's vengeance against his uncle Claudius, who had not only murdered his father, the previous king, but also had succeeded his throne and married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude.

Set in Denmark, the play captures the mixed feelings of grief and sense of rage in Hamlet as he goes about his mission. What really forms the centre of the plot is the real and feigned madness that Hamlet exhibits when he's overwhelmed by a dilemma whether to kill or not to kill his uncle'

Hamlet, a book that I had always wanted to read, since a lot of movies and books that I love claim to draw its inspiration from Hamlet and I had always wanted to read the original work. Hamlet is a story featuring the Prince of Denmark, whose father has been killed by his own uncle to take the throne and to make matters worse, has married the widowed queen, his mother. Hamlet comes to know from the ghost of his father that the murder was carried out by his uncle and the prince is desperate to get his revenge.

I felt that Shakespeare had a very deep story, running along multiple lines, a prince in dilemma, a romantic sub plot, a kingdom under threat, a family feud among others, the story had several aspects to it and I liked the diversity to it. And I have this to say that Shakespeare had a very good story for a play to be enacted and considering the various stories that have come subsequent to the play that have drawn inspiration have been so pleasurable to watch / read.

With that said, I felt that the script is worthy of being a play but certainly not being read and in my opinion, the unabridged version that I read had very poor delivery of content (judge me a philistine, I don't care). I am not going to get into the intelligibility part of it, the author is hardly to be blamed for having lived in the sixteenth century but what I had a problem was the fact that all I had with me was a dump of dialogues with no description as to how they were delivering them, what was the setting or the background on which they were doing, which makes me come back to the point that I was making, that it was a script made brilliant by the actors and the director of the play and not by Shakespeare himself.

Moreover, when you're just given a bunch of dialogues with nothing to fill in between, it also becomes a little difficult to comprehend for the reader and what really helped me understand it was only because of my exposure to stories that came subsequently inspired by this play. Another problem I faced as a reader by just having a dump of dialogues was that I was attached to no character in particular and could barely connect with any of them, except for Hamlet to an extent; while a tragic play such as this is meant to trigger the emotions of the reader, this script to the play did nothing of that sort to me.

To conclude, I would say that it was a brilliant story, but it is not meant to be read as a book, at least in the totally unabridged form that I read it in. I'd sit on the fence when it comes to rating this book, with a five on ten, only because of the good story, but for which I would have given only a three.

Rating - 5/10

Have a nice day,

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