|← Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven||Kate Chopin →|
Once upon a time in Denmark there was a king named Hamlet, who had a son, also named Hamlet. The king died a mysterious death and his wife, Queen Gertrude married Hamlet’s brother Claudius, who became the new king. I, Polonius, could not have cared less about who the king married as I was appointed chief counselor and trusted aide of the new king.
One chilly night, some rumors came to me from Elsinore, the king’s castle, that a ghost, looking like the deceased Hamlet, was seen. The soldiers called prince Hamlet, who, apparently, spoke with the ghost. Ghosts? Rediculous! What were the guards drinking that night? Very typical of Hamlet and his antics!
Speaking of prince Hamlet, this young man was courting my daughter, Ophelia. I really did not approve of this, neither did my son Laertes. Hamlet did not seem to have any serious intentions towards my daughter and his time spent with her was only a pleasant pastime to him. So I gave Ophelia a fair warning, but young ladies those days were head over heels in love with their young man, so she did not pay any attention.
I tried to kill their love because I considered it dangerous for Ophelia and for castle politics, but all in vain.
Additionally, I didn’t appreciate Hamlet’s sense of humor. He would always make fun of my age, which helped me grow an inferiority complex.
Hamlet’s seeming “madness” further concerned me for the safety and well-being of my child, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and assumed his behavior was the “ecstasy of love” (Crowther, ed., 2005). Indeed, in my time I was also quite the romantic, attempting to swing on vines into windows of fair damsels, but knocking over a few vases on the way and barreling into outhouses instead of the ladies’ chambers.
Yet Hamlet’s continued mourning of his father’s death and irregular behavior worried Claudius, who decided to find out the true nature of Hamlet’s abnormality lately. He sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, acquaintances of Hamlet and very adventuresome fellows, to find out what had happened to him. But Hamlet was smart and it was not long before he realized what the two had come to him for.
So Claudius and I convinced Ophelia to speak to Hamlet while we stood hiding and listened. I became outraged and more convinced of the boy’s madness as he spoke most rudely to my daughter telling her to go to a nunnery! Why, Hamlet is no better than a wanderer walking under a watchtower with a guard on the pinnacle excreting!
That evening Hamlet invited the court to view a play by a troupe of actors who had arrived that morning. The story played was “The Murder of Gonzago”. Throughout the whole play Hamlet would make agitated comments, which seemed to be directed at the king. When the scene of the murder was presented in the story, Claudius suddenly got up and left the room. Great, more grapes for me! But Gertrude’s stern look told me I would only have my share and no more.
Reluctantly, I exchanged a few words with the queen and decided that we had to finally find out what happened to Hamlet, why he had arranged that particular play and what his comments were about. So Gertrude asked Hamlet to come to her room immediately to explain. I decided to hide in the queen’s room and listen in, and if needed – to take action. I hid behind a tapestry.
I was very pleased with myself and cackled with glee. In my distant childhood, I had always dreamt of becoming a spy, serving a secret mission, saving lives and ending others whilst uncovering secret plans. But what happened was nothing like I had imagined it.
My glorious hour came when Hamlet eventually came into Gertrude’s room and an argument quickly ignited between Gertrude and her son. I was wide alert, waiting for a sign to spring into action. But I became more and more convinced that Hamlet was in fact crazy. He pulled out a mirror and wanted Gertrude to look into it when she said: “What are you going to do? You won’t kill me, will you? Help!” (Crowther, ed., 2005).
That is when I panicked and thought Hamlet would really kill the queen! I wanted to unsheathe my sword, summon up my bravery and courage and run the arrogant prince through! But all I could muster up was a feeble squeal “Help!” Hamlet turned around and said “A rat? I’ll bet he’s a dead rat now!” Having said this, I heard his sword being pulled out from its sheath and then a cold blade pierced me through, the blade that put the end to all my childhood dreams of ever being a most cunning and wanted spy or assassin. The blow was fatal and I died.
This is where my role ends, but the story does not. The rest of it I witnessed only as a ghost. And to think I did not believe in ghosts before! The future events were sad and bloody. Everyone I loved was dead in the end, either by their own hand or by the hand of the opponent. It pained me to see such tragedy. But now I was not able to intrude and to influence what was going on. The only person, who wished to die, but was stopped so he would tell the world the story of what had happened, was Hamlet’s close friend Horatio, which he did, and it is because of his account that the story still lives and serves others as a lesson, though I wish he had not had such good memory and would exclude the episodes of my cowardice and foolhardiness.
This is the story of love and hatred in a troubled time of history such as mine. My intentions were clean as I tried to serve my king and queen as best as I could, but my decisions were not the best as I misunderstood Hamlet often, thus I am partly to blame for his tragedy.