Hamlet for the Shakespeare-Impaired
By my troth, wert lauds usurp'st thine doublet fardels the gossamer bodkin Haephestus and repels vile unctions o'er lauds of "Hey Nonny Nonny".
Confused? Good. You should be. Because that was a bunch of random gibberish. But to many of us, all Shakespeare looks like that. Let's clear a few things up right now. Hamlet is not a small breakfast sausage, Macbeth is not a chain of fast food restaurants, and if you bare your bodkin in public you just might get arrested.
That said, let's move on to the Bard's longest and most famous work, Hamlet. Hamlet is about a giant radioactive newt awakened from its million-year-long hibernation in the Arctic by Richard Simmons doing jumping jacks on the Titanic. No! No! Wait! That's not right! But it does have ghosts, murder, sex, humor, mystery, assassinations, double-crossing and suicide. Interested?
If you're like me, however, the first time you read Shakespeare you were so confused you were ready to chuck the play off the nearest bridge and pick up the TV Guide. But, also, if you're like me, you had to read it for class.
Now, there are plenty of good websites out there explaining Hamlet. There are sites with longwinded essays by literary scholars. There are sites which speculate about whether Shakespeare was homosexual or whether he wrote his own plays or not. There are sites which spit out random insults full of funny words found in his plays. And there are sites full of nude pictures of people which have nothing to do with Shakespeare at all but which will get a million more hits than this one ever will. But to my knowledge, there are no sites which "translate" Hamlet, line by line, into a story everyone can understand. Thus we have Hamlet for the Shakespeare-Impaired.
This site is actually the fruit of my final project for Advanced Placement English 12. We could choose pretty much any project topic we wanted, as long as it required a mountain of work. (Yes, believe it or not, I chose to rewrite Hamlet.) I am a 1998 high school graduate with over seven years of diligent writing experience. I've completed a few novel manuscripts which I'm obsessively polishing before sending off to a publisher. English has long been my favorite subject, but my exposure to Shakespeare was very limited until my senior year in high school. Then I was tossed headfirst into Macbeth, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. As I stumbled through act after act of troths, fardels and bodkins, I kept thinking, "Why can't somebody write this out in plain English, @#$?$%?!" But no one had, so I decided to take that task onto my own shoulders. (Yes, I'm crazy, but it keeps me from going insane! ;-)
I don't pretend to be a Shakespeare expert. Far from it. You've read my resumé. But translating Hamlet was a dirty job, and someone had to do it! (Well, I suppose no one had to. I mean, the world wouldn't end or anything. But someone had to do a final English project in order to graduate! :-) I've had input from my English teachers, parents and friends (yes, I have friends, believe it or not!) and I've looked at countless footnotes, etc. to get what I hope is an understandable manuscript. Some of Shakespeare's witty puns and double entendres have been lost in the translation, but I tried to keep the flavor intact. I took some liberty with Ophelia during her craziness for the sake of humor, and I also inserted a handful of sarcastic remarks of my own design, but in all but a few instances, Hamlet is translated literately, line by line.
I smoothed out a few of the worst examples of innuendo, but there is still some PG-rated material. Blame Willie Shakespeare, not me!
Addendum: November 2000... I am now a junior in college, an English major, and have now read over two dozen Shakespeare plays. Let me assure you, reading his language gets easier and more enjoyable with practice! But for those of you just starting out in Bardology, I hope this website helps you comprehend Hamlet! :-)
So without further ado about nothing, join me at the castle Elsinore in
the land of Denmark. And
bring your ghost repellent! Follow me...