Tag Archives: Hamlet

Hamlet, Drop the Mirror!

Reporting live from my own bed, it is 4:20am and I… I am not asleep.

I have a Shakespeare class in 5 hours and 40 minutes, I have to start my day in 4 hours and 10 minutes… which approximately gives me 4 hours and 10 minutes… an ample time indeed, to fail to fall asleep.

I have just finished reading a Japanese Manga version of Hamlet (a Japanese-style comic). It is a very convenient way of reading Shakespeare for the comic manages to keep the main lines spoken in the play and rids itself of the rest in favor of drawings. Which leads me to one question: where was this book when I needed a reliable summary while studying for my midterm?

Hamlet concocts (yes, it is the word of the day) an elaborate play that would “catch the conscience of the king.” In other words, he is staging a play that will prove that indeed, it was his uncle that killed his father. Hamlet adds that by doing so, he will be holding up a mirror to nature. The play, this work of art, will “copy” life. Here we have an implied metaphor, in fact, it is so implied that I might be wrong. 😛

Art is a mirror.

If we hold this metaphor to be true, does it mean that we all own melting clocks, we are all waiting next to a tree for a man who never shows up and… are we all Dancing Queens, only seventeen?!!

If art does indeed hold a mirror up to nature… we’ve got ourselves a bit of a situation here. If it truly does, then I’m waiting for my own handsome vampire and werewolf… any minute now.

Why would I need a mirror reflecting what I experience on a daily basis? It’s like having a constant reminder that I’m having a bad hair day! If anything, I’ll pull off a Dorian Gray and cover my portrait until further notice… or a different hairdo.

I’d like to think of art as funhouse mirrors, you know, those mirrors that make you look extremely fat, or make your face as flat as my failed attempts at pancakes, or ideally… they make you look thin. Art is life under a faulty microscope, one that has been invented by a mad scientist. It is a French cook going nuts trying to figure out the perfect recipe for his new “life bourguignon” dish… while drowning it in red wine. It is me trying to finish this blog post.

In a novel, I’d be able to taste Proust’s Madeleine cookie with a cup of Starbucks coffee, convince Madame Bovary not to kill herself and invite her to watch a healthy dose of Oprah. I’d tell Jonathan Swift’s Houyhnhnms (pronounced “Winems”) to change their name and make our lives considerably easier.

Sure, Hamlet’s cause was a noble one… but he ended up dead.