The number was 6, and 6 corresponded to Shakespeare’s Hamlet! I’m thrilled. I can’t tell you how many times Hamlet has been referenced in my daily life in the past few years. A quote comes up at least once a semester in each of my classes, which have ranged from literature to psychology to education. It’s quoted on the internetz. It’s quoted at work. It’s referred to in the books I read (Words, words, words, Wolf Hall). My friends will make an allusion. When my grandmother used to call someone a piece of work? — Hamlet! Did you think Strunk and White might have coined “brevity is the soul of wit” — no, no, no — Hamlet! A method to your madness? HAMLET!
I also want to watch Hamlet somehow. It is essential to HEAR it, too. Probably the easiest thing for me to do is watch a film version (the 1996 Kenneth Branagh version is looking mighty appealing, but do tell if you have a favorite) but I’m going to keep my eyes out for a performance. Not only does my little town have a Shakespeare company, but my closest city has one, plus there’s Summer Shakespeare in Clark Park, AND there is a Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey! I am surrounded by opportunities to hear Shakespeare, and I have a ton of Shakespeare on my Classics Club list.
Also, please, please, please don’t be afraid of Shakespeare! I owe my feelings of excitement and accessibility towards Shakespeare to my 4th grade teacher, Miss Fortuna. We did Shakespeare, little peanuts like us! in a tiny working class school in South Philadelphia. We understood it and were entranced by the language and laughed at all the funny parts and even performed Julius Caesar! — we didn’t carry the Shakespeare Baggage being just little things.
If you want to read Shakespeare, but happen to have a suitcase full of fear with you, I highly suggest that you channel your inner 4th grader. Open your mind and heart to the inventive and the figurative. Hear as well as read (hear most importantly — read the best parts and the confusing parts aloud!). See it for what it is (amazing work for everyone), and not what our culture has made it become (highbrow the-ate-her).
Gotta run — there is something rotten in the state of Denmark!