Hamlet Act III - Growing Up is Hard to Do


In our class discussion we covered a variety of different ideas related to our two questions. 1. "Why do girls grow up faster than boys?" 2. "When does the pain of growing up end?" or "When are you grown up?"

Check the bottom for a different version of Hamlet's To Be monologue or see Calvin and Hobb's rendition.

After a good brainstorming session, we reiterated and added a few elements to our definition of being "grown up". This is what we as a class came up with.

1. Growing up is when you make your own choices

2. Growing up is when you are able to do what's best for yourself.

3. Growing up is when you take care of your own stuff (are responsible for yourself).

4. Growing up is when you take care of others (take responsibility for others).

In Act 3 we examined how Hamlet making a different choice would have changed everything about the play.

We used the decision graphic organizer to ask, "What if Hamlet had ignored the ghost, and not sought to kill his uncle?". What would/could have happened as a result?

Out of this discussion we saw how Hamlet's decisions shaped the direction of all of the action. Just thinking about how the play would have been different if he had made different choices at the outset makes you realize how important decisions are and the domino effect of each decision.

If Hamlet had ignored the ghost, or decided not to revenge his father by killing his uncle, then....

1. Hamlet could have ended up with Ophelia

2. Polonious could have not been killed.

3. Hamlet might have been killed by Claudius.

4. Hamlet could have sought revenge anyway because he was bent in that direction.

4. Hamlet could have stormed the castle and demanded justice instead of seeking personal revenge.

5. Hamlet could have gone back to college.

6. Hamlet could have ignored everything and just waited to be king.

7. The ghost could have moved on to something else, or cursed Hamlet as he threatens to do in the first scene.

8. My personal favorite - Hamlet could have joined forces with Norway to oust his uncle and claimed the throne for himself.

As we see the consequences of a different decision, it makes us realize the domino effect of Hamlet's single decision at the beginning of the play, when he chooses to follow his father's ghost's instruction. We also pointed out that by doing this he has set up the kingdom for destruction because he is trying to depose one king while not providing another - remember everyone thinks he is crazy, so who is going to be rooting for him as Denmark's next king.

What we do see is, like a foal finding its legs, Hamlet is stumbling trying to stand up, especially in these circumstances.

He is trying to be a man, by doing the right thing - "taking care of his own stuff". But was this the real grown up thing to do? Maybe, maybe not. But he is doing all of this in reaction to his father, in response to feelings of betrayal he has towards his mother, and because of his feelings of inadequacy after being cut off to the throne by his uncle.

Perhaps storming the castle or a more devious plot with Norway would have been a better method to his madness. Nevertheless, in Act 3 we see him struggling to make his own decisions (the test of the play) , figure out what's best (kill Claudius while he's praying or not?) and take care of others (well maybe not this one so much).

We can be hard on Hamlet, but as we discussed in class sometimes making our own choices in order to be a grown-up means making mistakes because we don't have the wisdom to see what is coming down the track. Therefore, growing up can be a painful process. A painful process and one that I don't believe Hamlet thinks will be complete until death.

On our "Be a Man, Hamlet" Graphic Organizer, I asked you to kibitz on what you saw Hamlet doing in relation to these four major areas. I'd love to know your thoughts on those.

Hamlet Act 3 - To Be Or Not...

Or....The Flying Boy's Anthem