So occasionally when I want something interesting to read, I will go to the local college bookstore. I know that is odd, but some of the best and most re-read books in my library are books from my college classes.
As I wandered the aisles in came a young lady who walked up to the clerk stocking the shelves with her book list in hand. After squinting at it for a moment she looked up at him and asked in all seriousness,” I need some book called Hamlet, do you have it?”
To quote the Ghost in Act V of Hamlet, I found this exchange “O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!”
I live in an area with really good schools, so there is no reason that she should have never heard of Hamlet before. At least she would have heard of William Shakespeare, who when discussed, usually has his other writings make some sort of appearance. Especially Hamlet, since it’s one of his most famous and oft performed and adapted plays.
Sure, I get that the arts are being cut in our schools. Are they being cut this much? I know it has been a while since I was in high school, maybe I don’t know what they cover anymore. Am I expecting too much from students who have graduated from high school to have heard of Hamlet? Not to have read it, not to have seen any of the movie versions, just heard of it?
For goodness sake there are 9 comic book versions that I find with a quick Google search, not to mention a Hamlet for Kids (claims it is good for ages 7-12). Side note, that seems young for a play that deals in revenge, incest, madness, treachery and moral corruption. But like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve been in school. Maybe 7 year olds are ready for these themes these days?
Possibly I’m overreacting and this is not the fault of the educational system. Maybe this girl is an exception and truly has never heard of Hamlet. Even in that case, I don’t think I’m being overdramatic to say that if you can graduate from high school and not even have heard of this play in some reference or another, then that is the true definition of tragedy.
Even sadder, this might be the first thing that pops into mind when someone says ” Prince Hamlet”.