The Dodo (ii)

My ideal existence didn’t last for long. The meals came less often, the plates came less full. I complained to Kidd but he seemed to be losing weight as well. My health began to fail and I lost the progress I made – it was a slippery slope back to the realm of illness and delirium. Eventually, I lost the energy to read. All I could think of was food.My eyes could barely on the words while I fell into a half dream state.

Puffins and feathers colliding, collecting into fractals I dived through. With a blink I was back on land, standing on the mountain that shadowed my home. I saw the Gnasher in the distance crash through sandbanks and paddocks – riding a wave of blood, bone and screaming souls – sailing upon the land as smoothly as on the sea. A shout echoed from behind me, I turned to see my mother pointing behind me. The Gnasher, a beautiful ship corrupted by some unseen evil, rumbled behind me with its bow cracked into a mouth. Its maw was lined by splintered wooden teeth but its insides were flesh. Someone screamed in the distance and I was consumed, sliding down its gullet till I came to rest in a warm pool housed by a cathedral of bone, its arched ribs were slippery and impossible to climb. My skin felt sticky and then gelatinous, dripping off my body like melted butter leaving my glistening muscles naked underneath. I screamed but the only answer was a breathless laughter. A man’s obese silhouette stood in the distance, he held a lantern and watched me with glee. This man was the source of the corruption, I was certain. He laughed while I screamed till my mouth bubbled away though my jaw bone still flapped away through the bloody stew of my face. I had no mouth, yet I screamed on- I was nothing at all but pain, dead, yet the agony continued, red hot pain pouring down my raw nerves which floated in the syrup of my remains.

I woke startled and swung my fist at the darkness. The punch connected with something that groaned and fell down to the floor.
“Who arr ya?” I spurt out, still half asleep.
“God’s blood! It’s Kidd, put down those bloody weapons,” he grabbed my shoulder and from the warmth of his hand I knew he was not a ghoul. I apologised and then he explained why he was sneaking around during the graveyard shift.
“I brought you some food I stole from under the quartermaster’s nose.” He handed me several loafs of bread and some foul smelling cheese.
“They’ve got all the stocks right under their noses, lucky for you I don’t smell as bad as the rest,” he grinned.
“I don’t know how to thank you,” I said shoving a handful of bread into my mouth.
“Just don’t punch me next time. And don’t worry about it, there’s plenty more where that came from. ”
Plenty more? Why are we being starved then?”
The boards above us creaked, “I’ve got to go, we’ll talk later.”
Like a shadow diving into an inkwell, he disappeared without a whisper more.

I ate my fill of the bread and that stinking cheese (I was hungry enough to eat the paper out of my books at that point) and hid the rest inside under the behind books on the shelf. With my belly full I got some well-needed sleep. But it didn’t last long, I woke up again to the sound of boards creaking above. The footsteps of a very heavy set man paced up and down the deck while incoherent shouting went on.

“WHERE? You bastard— where the devil—-” was all I could pick out of the muffled argument among some curses that are too obscene to repeat to you.
More shouting echoed down to my cabin and I clung to the hammock. Was it a mutiny? Was it Davy Jones taking his tax; the souls of sinful sailors as they slept? I knew not until I saw the planks directly above me bend under the weight of the beast. The hairs on my neck stood up. It froze and began sniffing, softly at first, and then had its nose right on the floor so that I could see its horrid nostrils through the cracks of the floor. The sniffing stopped, beads of sweat rolled down my face and rested on the tip of my nose but I couldn’t dare move a muscle. The paralysis clung to the air and even the ship seemed to stop swaying, but it ended with a single word that he grunted through the boards, “Food!” I heard footsteps running down the stairs, and my door burst forth to a more frightening figure I could have imagined. There stood the silhouette of the man from my dreams. It was as if he had stepped out of the veil of dreams, he let out the same breathless chuckle I had heard before and pointed one chubby finger at me.
“Gotcha.”

 

Hamlet’s Character Transformation

“For all his talk, Hamlet’s state of mind and motivations are no clearer at the end of Hamlet than they were at the beginning.” Evaluate this proposition playing close attention to relevant aspects of dramatic technique in Shakespeare’s play, including discussion of at least three of Prince Hamlet’s soliloquies.

To evaluate Hamlet’s state of mind and motivations is a challenge. As Hamlet himself puts to Guildenstern, “Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.” In this literary analysis, like Guildenstern, I also seek to play Hamlet to a tune, and that tune aims to reveal that Hamlet’s motivations and state of mind are clear and do change and develop contrary to the proposition. There are key differences in the Hamlet at the beginning of the play and the Hamlet who returns from witnessing Fortinbras’ marching troop and the pirates after his short-lived exile from Denmark – which can be shown through several soliloquies and supported by dramatic technique employed intentionally used by Shakespeare to this end. Though there are several veins of consistency to Hamlet’s character which will also be discussed.
The Hamlet we are introduced to at the start of the play is confused, disillusioned, and a shadow of his former self. He even dresses as a shadow, suited in black clothing he still griefs for his father despite his mother begging him to “cast thy nighted colour off.” Soon after Hamlet, who is ever vigilant on the use of language, jumps on the word “seem” that Gertrude uses, in which he argues that he “know not seems” but is genuinely grieving (Andrews 2014). This brief rebuke is an important introductory point to Hamlet’s character for it founds a basis for his basic honesty which he displays in his heartfelt soliloquies throughout Hamlet – and it is also an ironic one in that Hamlet is doubted when he displayed his grief truly and openly but then believed without challenge when he perpetrates his false madness.

His grief is exacerbated by the apparent “o’erhasty marriage” between Gertrude and Claudius which Hamlet sarcastically exclaims that that “the funeral baked-meats / Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.” We see the true extent of his depression and disillusionment in the immediately felts succeeding soliloquy (I ii 129) and the famous “To be…” soliloquy (III i 56). In the former, he establishes his perspective of the world, which he sees as “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable” and expresses his view on women as being the embodiment of “frailty.” In the latter, Hamlet elaborates on his role in this “sea of troubles” in which he can “take arms against“ or “suffer the arrows of fortune”, though the choice has no real consequence since both paths lead to the same end: “to die, to sleep.” This Hamlet is deep in melancholy both before and after the Ghost appears but we do see brief yet bright glimpses of a previously passionate person (Bradley 1991). When the players arrive in Elsinore, Hamlet’s energetic remarks and open joy cut through his sorrow and façade of madness as he bids them welcome and asks for “a passionate speech.” Another source of this joy is the possibility of coherent action towards avenging his father, finally he can make a proper strike wherein he can “catch the conscience of the king” and also protect his own moral nature being confirming the truth in Ghost who he suspects could be a devil assuming “a pleasing shape.”
Hamlet is repeatedly described as “transformed” and described by several characters as being previously a passionate scholar at Wittenberg, logic dictates if his state of mind changed from external events of his father’s death and uncle’s usurpation then it can once again change in the future. A primary example is Hamlet himself expresses his change of behaviour when he witnesses the passing army of Fortinbras (IIII iv, 30), moved by the soldier’s willingness to sacrifice themselves “when honour’s at the stake” despite their call to action being the defence of land “which is not tomb enough and continent / To hide the slain.” Hamlet resolves that the call to action can be as thin as “an egg-shell” then considers all the dishonour that he has suffered and feels shame at his inaction where he concludes that from now on his “thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.” This soliloquy provides valuable insight into the changed Hamlet that will return from the pirates. Evidence of this change being more than mere ‘talk’ as the proposition suggests is found in his conversations with Horatio in which he admits that he has sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths and feels no remorse for “for his old schoolfriends” that Hamlet expresses “are not near my conscience” (Bradley 1991). This point is further conveyed when he also reflects, with no remorse, on the thought of violence in the duel, even if that violence means his death. He states to Horatio that “there is special providence in the fall of a sparrow,” reflecting his new found faith that even the smallest of actions have been moved by the divine hand, and are part of an overarching plan or in other words “a divinity that shapes our ends.” Previously he held the attitude that the world was as disordered as “an unweeded garden” but now shows a marked difference saying to Horatio:

If it be not to come, it will be now.
If it be not now, yet it will come – the readiness is all.

And once again he proves his words true and carries out the dual to its terrible end.

However, this is not to argue that Hamlet has changed to become completely numb or heartless, even after his encounter with Fortinbras’ soldiers and the pirates he still holds a consistent sensitivity to life. By Ophelia’s grave Hamlet argues with Laertes that he “loved Ophelia” more than “forty thousand brothers could”, showing his previous ranting to Ophelia that she take herself to a “nunnery” was part of his false madness, or as Bradley argues, a symptom of his melancholy (1991). Further evidence that points to this conclusion can be found just previous to the graveside fight as Hamlet mournfully reminisces on “poor Yorick.” In this famous scene there is also evidence of a changed Hamlet who reflects on death with sadness but does not fall into the same pit of melancholy as he has before, instead here he keeps a healthy distance from the melancholy posed by death through humour displayed in his lines:

Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick,
to this favour she must come.

Shakespeare has provided Hamlet with a most appropriate solution considering Yorick’s occupation as a court jester when he lived. Slavoj Žižek has analysed this phenomenon in modern narratives which involve an individual’s relation to an ideology, his clearest example of this type of archetypal interaction in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. The film’s the main character, Joker, survives and more importantly keeps his sanity by holding onto humour and thus keeping a distance from the terrible events of the film (Fiennes and Žižek, 2016). Hamlet also learns to keep a distance so that he too can have a humour about his mortality, though thats not to say he makes a mockery of death like the gravedigger who Hamlet’s finds to be reprehensible because he “sings in grave-making.” In all these matters there is a balance to be achieved, whether it be between respecting one’s morality and respecting one’s own honour, or between contemplation and action – the thought and the strike.

Another example of Hamlet’s humour about mortality are his lines before the funeral procession:

Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
Might stop a hole, to keep the wind away.

Hamlet’s entire train of thought on kings ultimately becoming trivial objects through decomposition is especially fascinating when you analyse how he introduces himself to the funeral party as “This is I, Hamlet the Dane” seemingly declare himself King of Denmark and claiming the throne. It is at this point that I would argue it is entirely possibly Hamlet is entirely sure of his course of action; revenge and its price being complete self-destruction. I believe this to be the crux of Hamlet’s tragedy, he finally became spiritually and morally equipped to combat against the evil agents of his life but his true “transformation” comes too late his devils have grown powerful in his inaction towards them. Like God said to Cain after his failed sacrifice, “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door” (Genesis 4:7) Hamlet also has failed to make the correct sacrifices in his life – failing to choose sacrificing his moral high ground or his honour. Thus the price for revenge is his own destruction, which he walks to as willingly as Fortinbras’ soldiers marking himself not only as a hero among men – but this is also separates him from a being just a hero and upholds him as a tragic hero (Crawford 2015).

In conclusion, Hamlet finally achieves that balanced state he respects so much in Horatio “Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled”, a perfect balance between stoic judgement, Christian charity and spirit of violence to defend one’s honour. Of course, even without hearing the soliloquies and ‘talk’ spoken by the titular character of Hamlet, we would still be able to find a compelling progressing character in his actions. And despite his deception to his mother, his lover and, half the royal court of Denmark he is at least honest to his loyal confessor Horatio and lastly to us, his audience, the loyal confessors to the Bard himself.

References:

Bradley, A. (1991). Shakespearean tragedy. 1st ed. London: Penguin Books.
CRAWFORD, A. (2015). HAMLET, AN IDEAL PRINCE, AND OTHER ESSAYS IN SHAKESPEAREAN INTERPRETATION. [S.l.]: FORGOTTEN BOOKS.
Fiennes, S. and Žižek, S. (2016). The pervert’s guide to ideology. 1st ed. Berlin: Suhrkamp.
The King James Study Bible. (2008). 1st ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Shakespeare, Andrews, R. (2014). Hamlet. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

The Dodo (i)

A good rest was all I needed. Now with my back stretched and my head on straight, I can tell another tale for you. It’s a tale I’ll need vigour for. Vigour and strength are required because of my obligation to punch anyone who calls me liar or questions the true events of this story – doesn’t matter who speaks out, a pirate, a prince, a pauper or a poet – be it man, woman, or child I’ll wallop them. Especially the children! They’ll need to hear and learn from the journey of the Great Gnesher, that is if they want a chance at surviving the jaws of this vicious life which we have all been involuntarily spawned into.

The adventures of the Great Gnesher and her fearsome crew have been argued about for the past two decades, from sailor inns to princely halls across the globe. I am sure many a merry fist fight has been fought over the facts and events of her journey, I am sure because many of them I have started myself. Decidedly I am getting long in the tooth now and my fists merely bruise fools rather than break the hinge off their jaws. It is time to set down what I saw as a crew member on her maiden journey – though not a very maiden like – and the fate of her crew. Hopefully, when I pass onto the next life there is room at the Great Feast for a writer because I fight today with pen and paper rather than sword and axe.

You know how I was found by the Great Gnesher, in few words, a mess. I felt as if I had melted away with the iceberg I arrived on and that this strange hammock I was strung up in was a manger, I was a babe once again. The delusion that I had been reborn or reincarnated wasn’t much an err from the truth, in that the day I was rescued was the start of a new life for a young Leif Erickson.

I woke up in a room under the deck. Compared icy ocean I had lived in the past week this was heaven, an oaken cocoon oozing comfort. I spent my days here illuminated by soft lantern light and my hammock rocked by the gentle swaying of the ship. I was so intoxicated by this comfort that I felt a shock of guilt when I realised I had forgotten about all those that I had left behind.

Apart from a filled bookshelf left by the previous occupant, the last pilot of the ship, all I had for entertainment was stories told by my carer, the young lad William Kidd. He was barely older than me, on the brink of becoming a man, he was sprouting a thin blonde moustache that could only be seen in candlelight. He told me stories of the crew and the places they had travelled.

I listened passively, not having the energy to ask many questions.
“Today the Captain came out of his cabin for once, everybody ducked their heads thinking someone was about to get the lash… but it was only to grab a leg of turkey from the kitchen…” Kidd was a natural born storyteller and maybe that made him a natural born leader as well in the years to come, he knew exactly who he was, where he came from, and where he was going.
“Oh Tahiti was heaven on Earth, the land of milk and honey, no miserable snow and no rain, no offence to Iceland Leif…”
“No offence taken, it only snows 10 months of the year anyway.”
I laugh remembering those times but not for long, the memory is tinged with what was to come.

It was a peaceful and comfortable experience but in that soft womb, I felt guilty that I forgot about my mother, my father and of course the puffin. The puffin was being kept by Cohen, the First Mate. I met him only briefly while recovering — when I saw the way his spindly fingers reached round the door I already knew what sort of man he was.

“I am taking care of your little birdie, he is too tired to come see you though…” he spoke lazily, letting his bottom lip droop down. He was a lazy liar too, every time he lied he simply pointed his droopy eyes at the wall behind me, unable to make the sheer effort to make eye contact.

“Thanks,” was all I could mutter, feeling greasy having just talked to him.

“And don’t get too comfortable,” he prodded me in the chest with a bony finger that he used to comb back his greased black hair, “You’ll be earning your keep up on the high ropes soon enough. I hope you’re not afraid of heights!”
He left laughing with such a lack of enthusiasm that he didn’t seem to even convince himself.  Cohen was the type of man that thinks he’s clever for taking advantage of the sick and helpless, which was the exact state the puffin was in. I needed a plan to get back the bird.

However, that wasn’t Cohen’s only sin to speak of, Kidd told me many tales of his singular brand of functional insanity — which I have never witnessed in another man before or since.


Part 1 of XX ->

Outrages grows over Queen Victoria Market redevelopment — Australian Saga

Hundreds of protesters gathered last Friday at Queen Victoria Market to show their opposition to the planned redevelopment and construction of a massive skyscraper. The $250 million redevelopment will scrap the nearby car park and displace the antique sheds, threatening what the protesters describe as “the heart of Melbourne.” Among the objectors is former prime minister […]

via Outrages grows over Queen Victoria Market redevelopment — Australian Saga