Hello, all! When you think about the many works of Shakespeare, they can seem inaccessible. Spark Notes has an entire category called No Fear Shakespeare, which aims to curb students’ fear of words like “thy” and “bulwark” by translating them into modern English. Still, many students consider Shakespeare’s works to be boring, dry, and incomprehensible. Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest work, is known as one of the worst. But for all of its lofty language, Hamlet is basically an unintentionally hilarious YA Fic novel. Yeah, it’s a classic, but damn, there’s a lot of angst.
Original plot synopsis: The kingdom of Denmark is enmeshed in scandal. The king is dead, murdered by his brother Claudius, and Gertrude, the king’s wife, has married his murderer. In the center of the turmoil is Hamlet, the moody, introspective prince who has a ghost-given quest: find the truth about his father’s murder, and most importantly, avenge his death.
YA Fic synopsis: Hamlet is an average prince of Denmark, but his ordinary, dull life changes when his awesome father is poisoned by his totally sketch uncle Claudius. Even his mother, that slut, would rather sit at the cool table with Claudius than with him. With a needy girlfriend and an ex-bro on the rampage, Hamlet will need to face his troubled past and his dark future if he wants to avenge his father, and more importantly, save his senior year.
So, what exactly makes Hamlet a precursor to the modern YA Fiction novel? Three things: douchey parents, teenage romance, and ANGSTTTTTTTT. Plus, Hamlet’s a stupid teenager. A brilliant, poetic, stupid teenager. I love Shakespeare.
1. Douchey Parents: So, like, Hamlet totally hates his parents. I mean, he used to like his dad because his dad would, like, play football with him and stuff and he bought him a used Toyota Camry, but now his dad is totally dead. Like so dead that he came back as a ghost. Hamlet’s never had to deal with grown-up emotions like sadness and grief and all that shit. And like, he’s super sad, like all the time. Like, he wants to, like, kill himself or something. So like, there’s this new guy named Claudius who is totally fucking up Hamlet’s groove. Like, he married Hamlet’s mom and that’s basically incest, and like, it was hot when Jaime and Cersei did it but it’s NAWT hawt when Hamlet’s mom does it. Gawd, he hates that slut.
She used to be the cool mom, and Horatio said she’s a MILF, but now she’s such a bitch and he wants her to die. But like, anyway, Hamlet’s step-dad is such a total douche. He’s won’t let Hamlet do anything. Like, Hamlet just wants to mope around all day and write poetry and Claudius won’t let him and oh my god, let’s not forget that he killed Hamlet’s fucking father. I mean, WTF. The nerve of some people. That’s why he’s gotta kill his step-dad, you know? Because fuck that guy. What a tool. He’s not even a good king. Hamlet would know, because he would be a boss king. He learned how be kingly from his dad. Oh my god, Hamlet’s gonna cry right now. Because he loves his dad so much, you know?
2. Teenage Romance: Relationships are so complicated. Hamlet thought that he was just having this stupid fling with his bro Laertes’ hot sister, but she’s just SO needy. Like, every single day, she’s just like Hamlet why don’t you love me? and Hamlet why aren’t you replying to my texts ? and it’s just like SHUT UP HO Hamlet’s dad just died what do you not understand?! Hamlet can’t even deal with that shit right now. He’s gotta focus on revenge. And sure, he feels bad for killing Ophelia’s father, but she needs to get over it, because her dad was a snitch and snitches get stitches. Also, Hamlet kinda hoped that Ophelia would get the hint and break up with him, but that bitch does not take a hint.
But feelings are so complex and shit. Because when Ophelia killed herself, Hamlet felt totally messed up and guilty over it. And he even told everyone that he still loved her, because, like, maybe he did? Like, yeah, he was a total dick to her and stole her honor and made her crazy, but like, she could have been the one? Like, maybe after college, you know, when he’d met some other girls, he would’ve realized that she was the marrying type after all? And Laertes was a total dick about it too. Like, Hamlet’s dad was murdered TOO, you know? Like, everyone seems to forget that and like Hamlet’s dad was murdered first, like way before Polonius, so really Hamlet is the victim here.
3. ANGSTTTTTTTT: People are always judging Hamlet and calling him crazy and shit because he gets so murdery at the end of the play, but like, chill. You guys just don’t understand. Like, it’s hard to make rational decisions when your whole life sucks so much. Like, was Hamlet NOT supposed to kill Polonius? Like, was he NOT supposed to trick Rosencrantz and Guildenstern into delivering their own death warrants? Like, was he NOT supposed to force Claudius to drink poison (that dick). Like, was he NOT supposed to demand intimate information about his mother’s sex life while subtly threatening her safety? Like, was Hamlet just supposed to be a giant pussy?
But you know what’s so hypocritical? No one gets on Fortinbras’ back for like, I don’t know, conquering the whole damn country of Denmark because his dad got killed. Like, no one ever says that, you know? Everyone’s just like oh my god Fortinbras is so strong and like decisive, not like that Hamlet kid. Hamlet’s sick and tired of being compared to Fortinbras, because he’s not Fortinbras. He has his own strengths, like he’s good at art. Do you think Fortinbras is good at art? No, he can’t fucking draw a circle. But Hamlet can draw really good still lifes and no one ever says that to him. They’re always blaming him for stuff like murdering Polonius and hiding his body but Hamlet’s DAD DIED!!!!! Why won’t anyone give him a break?!
4. Bonus- Critical Thinking Skills: People always say that teenagers overreact to everything. But, like, when Hamlet accidentally murders his girlfriend’s father, what is he supposed to do? Give her the body? Hell to the no! It made so much more sense to hide Polonius’ body where no one would ever find it. At least, it did at the time. And it made Hamlet feel really smart when no one could find it. Like, he felt important for once. And validated. Fortinbras would never be that good at hiding bodies. You know what else felt really good to Hamlet? Staging a fake play to trick Claudius into revealing his guilt. That was one of Hamlet’s best ideas, super creative, definitely something that Fortinbras would NEVER think of.
And you know, maybe Hamlet shouldn’t have dueled with Laertes, but he felt super down about Ophelia, and Hamlet just wanted Laertes to like him. Laertes was so good at everything, but like, he wasn’t a douche about it like Fortinbras. He was just really cool and really chill and he would let Hamlet hold his sword sometimes. So, yeah, maybe he should’ve realized that Laertes was still super pissed off at him for causing the death of his sister, but Hamlet was feeling really unpopular that day and peer pressure makes you feel like a loser, okay?
This is why I think someone needs to make a modern teen angst Hamlet movie. I can’t be the only who sees the beauty in that, right? So, next time you have to read Hamlet, don’t think of it as a chore. See it as an opportunity to read one of the first stories about teen angst. Before there was The Catcher in the Rye, before there was Twilight and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and The Fault in Our Stars, there was Hamlet. Shakespeare was the original YA Fic writer. I’m sorry I wrote an entire post about this.