Thursday, September 26, 2013

ELM (part 2) - Thug Notes does Hamlet

In college, I had studied the hard sciences and pursued a technical career until retirement.  Wanting to be well rounded, I took on the task of reading many of the classic novels.  It was at that point that I gained a great respect for the liberal arts.

And hence, that was an inspiration for this thread -

ELM - English, Language, and Musings.

When tackling math, no one would think it strange to ask for help to understand calculus, for example.  And I had attended many help sessions to get through my physics homework.  But that same kind of help can be most needed to understand - and appreciate -  literature.

Though math and science deal with equations, logic, theories - none of which is trivial, literature deals with the soul, which is very complex and rich.  But classic literature can be very arduous to read and difficult to understand for some of us amateurs.  And this is even more true in our times of numerous distractions when our attention spans seem to have been shortened.  But with the internet, help is just a click away.

Let's look at one example of a classic -

Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

The entire play can be found here - William Shakespeare's Hamlet

And it can take up to 5 hours to perform the whole play - Hamlet Uncut is 5 Hours Long! | The Bard Blog - Shakespeare Info

And that can be quite painful as that point is humorously made in the following clip.  (This is a scene from Blackadder Back & Forth, in which Blackadder travels back in time and has a few words with William Shakespeare ... among which is the endless, uncut version of Hamlet.)

Below are a few example of Hamlet performed in diverse venues:

From the Sublime ...

Christopher Plummer performed this memorable scene:

To be or not to be ... 

To the ridiculous ...

Though this next scene is most serious, it is performed with humor in a cartoon - the Animaniacs.  

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio ...

As I picked up reading the classics outside of school and outside the benefit of a teacher, I still needed help - real bad - to fully appreciate them.  So I got -

Cliff Notes ...

And that aid helped me to navigate through the history of the times and all salient points of the piece - most of which when over my head.  And in this digital age, most of these notes are now online.

For Hamlet, check out - Hamlet: At a Glance | Shakespeare | CliffsNotes

Akin to Cliff Notes are

Spark Notes ...

For Hamlet, check out - SparkNotes: Hamlet

If you wish for a graphic novel version - somewhat animated, this is the clip for you -

And then this gem recently made the scene on YouTube:  ,

Thug Notes

Thug notes gives an excellent summary and analysis of a classic in my opinion.  It's a most effective teaching tool as the presentations get the main points across with the humor of the Animaniacs and in terms that even I can understand ...

Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, Thug Notes ...

All are tools to teach us the stories that are part of our culture and civilization.

And most of all,  Hamlet is universal whether told in Elizabethan English or the language of the street in the 21st century.

I say, again ....

The soul ... it's complex, but so rich. 


Previous post on this series:

ELM (part 1) - English, Literature, and Musings (2013)


Photo from - Wikipeida - Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet

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