To be, or not to be PODCAST EPISODE
There are certain things in life you fall in love with immediately and for all time. William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, or The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is one of those things. I read Hamlet with a mind spinning and a heart being pulled in every direction. Who doesn’t love a brooding intellectual hottie caught up in an impossible situation?
We’ve all heard the line: To be, or not to be. It’s really famous– Shakespeare’s most famous line, actually. But what’s it really all about? On my mission to make geeky things cool for everyone, I’ve decided to take on this text (and create the awesome graphics below). So here’s a very brief analysis of To be, or not to be, along with a video I created to make it more memorable.
Hamlet begins his soliloquy by asking,
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them.”
You know when life’s being an absolute dick, and you’re working your ass off getting nowhere fast, and the boyfriend you should’ve broken up with ages ago gets you into debt, and your bank account is sounding alarms, and your pet just died? Those are some of the mild slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which Hamlet is referring to in this soliloquy. Do we bear the heartaches, no matter how shattering, or do we end them? And if we choose instead to live and suffer, why?
He goes on to compare death to sleeping.
To die, to sleep; to sleep, perchance to dream– aye, there’s the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come?”
See, the thing is, there may be a marvelous new world waiting for us after death, but maybe what’s on the other side is something worse than the slings and arrows of this life. Maybe it’s a nightmare. It’s a toss up. It’s
the undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn no traveller returns”
The result of this mystery is that it
puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of? Thus, conscience does make cowards of us all.”
Conscience does make cowards of us all. All of our thinking about possibilities leaves us cowardly and stagnant. We stay in a life that we hate because we’d rather not risk the uncertainty of another path.
We suck up our despair and content ourselves with toiling and complaining till the end of our natural days.
I told you it’d be a very brief analysis, and I’m taking the risk of you thinking me a fraud, but I don’t want to break this down line by line. Here’s where you can find a great breakdown, though.
I’d like to turn your attention toward another aspect of this work which I love.
The beauty of this writing isn’t in the context of the words alone;
it’s in the sound that these words make together; the music. For years, I’ve tried to highlight the musical quality of certain works of literature, but it wasn’t until recently that I thought to showcase this quality by adding music to my readings. I strive for innovation, so I hope you like what I’ve come up with.
To memorize, or not to memorize? That was the question.
To be, or not to be. I never imagined that this larger than life speech would be for people like me who couldn’t remember even simple poems, but I’ve been on a mission these past few months to memorize works that I’ve always loved (more on that in another post). Despite my own skepticism, I gave it a shot. And I did it, ya’ll! I’m now certified to roam the streets of the world as a bonafide douchebag. If you’d like to become a certified douchebag by memorizing Hamlet’s To be, or not to be soliloquy, I’ve included a link to my audio reading at the top and bottom of this post. Recite it every day, and you’ll be on your way.
Pair this reading with:
Movie: What Dreams May Come (starring Robin Williams)
Movie: Hamlet (starring Mel Gibson)
Audio: iwannabealady podcast
On Netflix: Shakespeare The Legacy (I learned a lot of new things about Shakespeare’s life and the world he grew up in, which is always cool.)
I had a hell of a time getting this “literary bundle” together for you. Everything was connected and disconnected (filming and editing the video, the blog post, the podcast, designing the graphics for here and Instagram), discombobulated (I’m talking about you, Technology; you’re formidable and relentless; you’re a sonofabitch, if I ever saw one.) So what I’m saying is, if you dig this content and the work that went into it, if you’ve learned something, or feel inspired, or simply enjoyed the pretty views, please consider liking, commenting, and sharing my content. Any step you take, even the smallest, to support iwannabealady (and make me famous-er) is deeply appreciated.
*** If you’re digging my graphics, I’ve got great news! I’m currently building an Etsy store which will feature gorgeous, cool, moderately hippie, moderately geeky graphic design posters. And for those of you who’ve been loving my audio readings, I’ve been working on an audio book just for you. It’s going to be cool and innovative, not your grandma’s audio books. I’ll be sharing more details in the coming months, so stay tuned!