(Magpie 58, ABC Wednesday, Writer's Island and Sunday Scribblings)
“J” is for “January.”
Hamlet is very excited.
It’s January and it’s a bitter cold night in Denmark. We’re on a battlement of Elsinore Castle, where the young Prince has just learned that his late father was murdered, murdered by his own brother, the present King.
And Hamlet learned this from his father himself, who has appeared in the form of a Ghost who begs his son to avenge his murder.
Hamlet’s mind ranges wildly: was that really his father? Or could it have been an evil spirit, a fiend trying to trick him into performing an evil deed – to kill his uncle?
And of course there’s the possibility that he had imagined the whole thing. He has got to find out the answers to his questions.
He comes upon his two friends, who had also previously seen the Ghost.
Hamlet: “Good friends, as you are friends, scholars and soldiers, give me one poor request.”
Horatio: “What is it, my lord. We will.”
Hamlet: “Never make known what you have seen tonight.”
Horatio and Marcellus: “My lord, we will not.”
Hamlet: “Nay, but swear it.”
Both his friends readily swear to it.
But that’s not nearly enough for the young Prince. An oath is all well and good, but this is serious business. It calls for a special kind of oath.
Hamlet: “Upon my sword.”
Marcellus: “We have sworn, my lord, already.”
Hamlet: “Indeed, upon my sword, indeed!”
Quite astonishingly, the Ghost calls out from beneath the stage: “Swear by his sword!”
They swear again. Horatio's amazement is unlimited.
Horatio: “O day and night! But this is wondrous strange!”
Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
1 year ago