Hamlet 4:2

Act IV, Scene 2: “Another Room in the Castle”

Summary: Hamlet comes before the King, acting loony. He still won’t tell where he buried Polonius. The King tells him they’re sending him to England immediately, and Hamlet says, “Okay, sure,” and goes off to pack. The King plans to have Hamlet killed in England (I think) to try to cure all the bad feelings and unhappiness he’s had since killing the former king.

Reaction: I didn’t expect this scene to go this way–I kind of thought Hamlet would put up more of a fight. He’s acting more like a clown than someone bent on revenge. The King, at least seems to be showing his evil side again, which I like. No weenie villains around here.

Prediction: Maybe like in The Lion King Hamlet (Simba) will run out of town for a while and then come back sort of  triumphantly (because this won’t end like The Lion King). Maybe he needs the ghost to come back and set him straight and knock the crazies out of him so he can focus on revenge.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Philosophical musings about death and how we’re all just worm food: “Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that’s the end.”

Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: Hamlet mocks the king openly, and we all love seeing displays of brazen disrespect for authority (even if we’re too scared to every try it ourselves).


Hamlet 4:2

Act IV, Scene 2: “Another Room in the Castle”

Summary: Hamlet’s so-called friends G and R ask Hamlet where he put the body. Hamlet answers them cryptically but agrees to go with them to the King.

Reaction: I didn’t expect this scene to be so short. I’m actually not sure what to make of it, except that Hamlet knows G and R work for the King and not him and that he seems to be going a bit crazy.

Prediction: Well, he’s going to have some words with the King. I’m sure they’ll be cryptic as well and will hint or outright accuse him of murder. At this point it’s hard to predict what Hamlet will do except for continue his complete mental breakdown.

Why This Book Is a Classic: I think characters going crazy is a thing often seen in classics, especially ones that don’t end that well.

Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: We love seeing people turn their lives into a train wreck–why else is there reality TV?

Workout Playlist 1/29-2/4

I had a really good all-around week this week. I got all my workouts in and I didn’t eat any junk or anything that really bothered me, and today showed some good results. Yay!

Now, for this week I’m going to try some holds in my workout, which are supposed to increase muscle endurance, and which I find incredibly difficult–especially planks. I’m going to see how long I can keep the hold going, stretch it out, then get back to it until the song is over. I’ve started with shorter songs (so this week there’s 11 songs instead of 10) and as I get better I hope to switch to some longer songs.

Workout playlist for Monday and Thursday:

  1. Machine gun punches–“Vampire Money” My Chemical Romance
  2. Wall sit–“The Party Song” Blink 182
  3. Jumping holding weights–“Jump Rope” Blue October
  4. Box/Squat–“The Effect” Flobots
  5. Hold up weights*–“State of the Union” Rise Against
  6. Crunches w/ weights–“Anything Anything” Lucky Boys Confusion
  7. Lunge/Squat w/ weights–“Idiot Box” Incubus
  8. Run–“Satellite” Rise Against
  9. Plank–“Combat” Flobots
  10. Machine gun up/down–“If You Think This Song Is About You…” D.R.U.G.S.
  11. Cool down–“Wish You Were Here” Incubus

*I will hold the weights (heavy ones) straight up in the air above my head.

And I will run on Tuesday and Wednesday and do my Y class on Friday. Here’s to a great week!


Hamlet 4:1

Act 4, Scene 1: (I forgot to check where, but I assume ‘A Room in the Castle’)

Summary: The Queen tells the King how Hamlet has gone crazy and killed Polonius. The King is rightfully disturbed and gets Hamlet’s friends to go fetch him so they can ship him off to England immediately.

Reaction: I guess this scene was necessary, kind of. We see that the King and Queen are still concerned about Hamlet, probably for different reasons now, and that Hamlet’s time is up–he has to act now if ever.

Prediction: Murder and mayhem has been promised–it is a tragedy–Shakespeare should be delivering soon.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Even scenes like this, where nothing really happens, are worth reading because it is a classic.

Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: A scene like this builds the tension for what is coming next. That both drives a modern audience (any audience) crazy and keeps them watching: think Lost, and every other drama on TV.

War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 1-7

So I have officially begun War and Peace. Since it is so long (365 chapters–1 for each day of the year) I’m going to read it in addition to my other classics and post my progress on Saturdays. (Luckily, I’ve discovered that the chapters are short.) I’ve decided to start now because of Jillian at her blog, “A Room of One’s Own,” where she is hosting the War and Peace challenge. I’m behind a bit for the official readalong, but I’m just going to tune in to the relevant posts as I get there.

I’m not quite sure on the format I’m going to use for this since I’ll be covering 7 chapters at a time. For this week, though, I’ve made a character list and added the things I’ve learned about them. Starred characters actually appeared in the story, and the others were only discussed.

Oh, and disclaimer–though my brother and his wife were Russian majors, I know nothing of the Russian revolution or this particular time period and will probably show my ignorance in many ways. At some point maybe I’ll do some research to fix this, but not today…

The List:

*Anna Pavlovna Sherer: maid to the Empress. She’s throwing a party, prefers her guests to talk only of trivial things, and has never been married–she’s 40 and has a cold

Empress Marya Fedorovna–Russian Empress–Empress is better than princess, and I’m pretty sure she’s the highest woman of all Russia

*Prince Vasili Kuragin–“languid”; has some troublesome sons and an attractive daughter

Novosiltsev–has sent out a dispatch of some sort and got no answer

Emperor Alexander–Emperor of all Russia

Napoleon Buoneparte–French conqueror–also an Emperor, I believe–there are mixed feelings about him among the Russian elite

Wintzingerode–sent out to capture the King of Prussia’s consent and failed

*le Vicomte de Mortemart–a French guy (the Russian elite are really into France) and he’s not as important as Anna makes him out to be

*Abbe Morro–a thinker; Anna likes him a lot

Baron Funke–the proposed secretary to the Empress; Vasili wants his son to get it

Anatole–Prince Vasili’s youngest son; Anna doesn’t like him too much and Vasili wants to marry him off–an arrangement seems to be in the works with Princess Mary Bolkonskaya

*Hippolyte–Prince Vasili’s oldest son; he’s ugly and seems to really like Princess Lise Bolkonskaya

Princess Mary Bolkonskaya–eligible bachelorette of a rich man

Prince Bolkonskaya–Ps. Mary’s rich dad

*Helene–Prince Vasili’s daughter

*Princess Lise Bolkonskaya–sister-in-law to Ps. Mary, pregnant and confusingly introduced until they gave her first name; called “the most fascinating woman in St. Petersburg” but will be doomed to live alone in the boring countryside when her husband, P. Andrew, goes off to war–she has potential to be a main character

*Anna’s old aunt–an old bag Anna makes everyone talk to when they come to the party, whom no one wants to talk to

Count Bezukhov–a dying man who had an illegitimate son, Pierre (I think), who’s just come into Russian society for the first time

*Pierre–has just arrived in Russia and this is his first societal gathering so does not know how to “behave”; he keeps bringing up “unpleasant” highly political subjects; he likes Napoleon and has come to Russia/was sent by his father to find what job he wants to do, but he doesn’t want to do anything. Because he doesn’t know how to behave he seems more interesting than the rest; he is described as kind and expressive and genuine, also chubby and short–I’m thinking he’ll be more of a main character

Duc d’ Enghien–his murder was gossip fodder–was killed by Napoleon when caught with Napoleon’s lover

Mademoiselle George–an “actress,” Napoleon and the duc’s lover–seems a bit of a whore

*Prince Andrew Bolkonski–an unhappy man, seems bored by everyone at the party except Pierre, and is especially bored by his wife, Ps. Lise. He is about to go off to war, but takes time to have dinner with Pierre after the party. His wife calls him selfish, which gets her in trouble–probably another main character

*Princess Drubetskaya–an old bag at the party who wants P. Vasili to use his influence to make her son a guard instead of going off to war; he agrees to because he owes her a favor

Boris–Ps. Drubetskaya’s son

Kutuzov–Russia’s commander-in-chief


Phew. That was a lot. But the book has actually been pretty interesting and not too hard to read except for my ignorance of the culture/history and having to constantly consult my list of names.

That’s it for now. We’ll just have to see what happens with these characters, and I’m sure a myriad more, next week!

Hamlet 3:4

Act III, Scene 4: “The Queen’s Closet”

Summary: Polonius tells to the Queen what to say to Hamlet and then hides to listen. When Hamlet comes he attacks her for marrying her husband’s brother. When she cries out Polonius reacts and Hamlet stabs kills him. Then Hamlet and the Queen continue to talk. Hamlet tells her she’s too old to lust for another man so why did she marry her brother-in-law? She doesn’t have an answer. The ghost appears to Hamlet, but she doesn’t see it and thinks he’s crazy. Hamlet says he’ll take care of the body and tells her not to sleep with the King anymore.

Reaction: The first body falls! Just when I was almost convinced that Polonius was actually crafty and perhaps the devil, secretly working behind the scenes and manipulating everyone for some evil purpose–and I was afraid he’d be the only one left alive at the end of the play–he’s the first to go! I have to admit I cheered at his death. I think it’s funny that they continued their conversation with his dead body bleeding all over the floor.

Prediction: There’s probably a reason Hamlet doesn’t want her to sleep with the King that night, besides that he thinks it’s gross. I’m thinking he’s going to try to kill him then.

Why This Book Is a Classic: There’s some classic violence again. Polonius is stabbed and killed so fast I had to re-read it to make sure it had really happened. Depending on a production’s interpretation, it could be made blood spurtingly gory, but Shakespeare classically leaves it up to the imagination in his writing.

Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: Bathroom humor, in a way: Queen: “Your bedded hair is like life in excrements, Starts up and stands on end.” His hair is like poop–tee hee–at least that’s how I interpreted it.

Hamlet 3:3

Act III, Scene 3: “A Room in the Castle” (I wonder if these “rooms” are all the same or if they bounce around to all different rooms in the castle. I guess it depends on who is performing the play.)

Summary: The King tells Hamlet’s friends to get him to England as soon as possible, and Polonius tells the King he will spy on Hamlet as he talks with his mother. Then the King gets some alone time and prays, wishing to be forgiven for his crime, but realizing that isn’t possible so long as he has the rewards from it–crown and queen. Hamlet sees him praying and considers killing him then, but decides against it because he doesn’t want him to be killed praying; he wants to kill him when he’s doing something sinful like drinking, gambling, or “in the incestuous pleasures of his bed.”

Reaction: There was a hint earlier at how bad the King was feeling about the murder, and now we see it spelled out. I love when we get depth in the bad guys and can see them as human–of course I always love a good villain. And I love that Hamlet has no clue that his uncle feels this way.

Prediction: I feel like when it comes time to do the murder, the King will be at the point where he will tell Hamlet that he wants him to kill him, and that will make Hamlet really not want to do it, but he will anyway. I could be wrong–I so often am.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Not many books today get into these heavy religious dilemmas–The King feels his soul is forfeit, while Hamlet doesn’t want to kill him when he’s praying because he doesn’t want his soul to go to heaven; he wants to kill him when he’s sinning so he’ll go to Hell.

Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: Everyone likes complex, believable characters, and Shakespeare is an expert at this–every character has depth and good and bad sides. Heroes have faults and villains have redeemable qualities.