"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Saturday, May 23, 2009

If 'Hamlet' had been written by...

I've been imagining what the play Hamlet would look like if it had been written by someone other than Shakespeare. What I've imagined is not pretty. Take that famous monologue for example, "To be or not to be..." What if that speech were penned by Hemmingway? It might read as follows:

Hamlet enters. "Suicide's a bitch!" Hamlet exits. End of Scene.

Well, I've brewed up a couple other possibilities. Like I said, they aren't pretty. Read on if you dare!

Dan Brown’s “The Yorick Will”:

Professor Langdon stood over the grave. The long kept secret was almost in his grasp. Standing next to him was the courageous, yet sweetly vulnerable Italian chemist, Illaya.
“'Alas, poor Yorick.' 'Alas poor Yorick.' What did Hamlet mean by that?” Langdon asked while examining the skull in his hand. His gaze kept drifting off the skull and onto Illaya.
“Were they ever associates?”
Langdon noticed the glisten on her lower lip as she spoke. Damn! He needed to focus on the mystery of Yorick's Will. And even worse, the ghost of Hamlet's father was actually a radioactive hologram threatening to contaminate all of Denmark at sundown.
“Alas.” Langdon thought deeply. “A…lass?”
“A Lass!” Her emerald eyes began to sparkle. Langdon’s mind burned urgently, the way it did after a good lecturing.
“’A lass. Poor Yorick.’ That’s it! Yorick wasn’t a man. He was a woman!”
“But Robert, what does this mean?”
“It means we need to find the rest of Yorick’s skeleton.”
“That would be at the Lendurbee Chapel,” said the grave digger nearby.
“The Lendurbee Chapel? Lendurbee! Neither a borrower nor a Lendurbee!. Don’t you see Illaya? Polonius wasn’t giving a trite lecture to Hamlet. He was trying to keep Hamlet away from the secret location of Yorick’s skeleton!”
“Which is buried beneath the Lendurbee Chapel!” He loved it when she completed his thoughts. Together they would solve this sacred and holy mystery. A tear rolled down Illaya’s olive cheek. Robert, defying all of his professorial instincts, wiped it away. She cast him a grin and said, “Robert, when this is all over, perhaps…”

Or imagine 'Hamlet' in the hands of J.K. Rowling in her next novel “Hamlet and the Mystical Thumbs of Notyetland" ACT V (Abridged)

The poisoned sword fell from Hamlet’s hand and he collapsed. Horatio knelt beside him, watching for what would surely be Hamlet’s final breath. Hamlet, so near the end, wished he and his buddy could enjoy one final picnic together, complete with a hearty serving of Extra-Sharp Cheese Danishes and Holland Daze Punch. But it was...not to be. Hamlet's heart was most certainly taking its last beats.
“I die, Horatio.”
Horatio heard Hamlet’s harangue, but his mind was elsewhere. Nearby in the stables, unaware she could be heard, the castle's one-eyed cook was talking to Hamlet’s horse Barrybodkin.
“Ophelia is still alive old steed. Gallop fast to the river! But whatever you do, don’t let Horatio know I told you.”
“I heard them too,” said Hamlet. “Go Horatio! Save Ophelia!!”
Just then the ghost of Polonius drifted over to Hamlet and looked gravely down at the forlorn Dane. “Hamlet, before you die I have seven pages of things to explain to you. Can you hold on that long?”
“Uh, I think so,” Hamlet replied.
“Good, let’s begin. Long ago your father had a thumb wrestling match with your uncle. Now you have always been told that your father lost the match; however, we musn’t forget your father had two thumbs. Two thumbs, my boy! And there was second match!! Now your mother…”
End of Volume 1

Well, there you have it. If I come up with any others, I'll try to avoid letting you know. Or if you come up with any, feel free to leave a comment.


  1. That's very funny! I stumbled on your bolg through Peter Sagal's - I love it!

  2. Thanks Philip! It was fun to write. Shameless spoofing is a good diversion now and then I suppose.