“The observed of all observers” – Photo Friday

This week’s Photo Friday was quite a challenge for me.  “The observed of all observers” is a line taken from “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare.  I will admit to you that I have never read “Hamlet”.  In fact, the only work of Shakespeare’s that I have read in its entirety is “Romeo and Juliet”, and that was in the 7th grade.  I have been ignorant of even the basic plotline.  All I could connect with the play is a skull (a talking one perhaps?), a murdered father, and a couple of quotes that I’ll probably get completely wrong:  “out damn spot”, and “get thee to a nunnery”.  As “Hamlet” is Shakespeare’s longest play, and as I only had a week to put this post together, I didn’t think I’d have time to read the whole thing in order to glean inspiration.  Ergo, I figured I’d read a synopsis or two.  Which I did. 

Kind of a depressing play!!!  Hamlet is a king.  The king of Denmark.  His son is also named Hamlet.  Hamlet’s (the prince’s) father is killed.  A ghost identifies the murderer as the king’s brother, Claudius.  Claudius marries Hamlet’s mother.  Hamlet is torn by wanting to exact revenge, but isn’t sure if the ghost is the best source of information.  He feigns mental instability while trying to figure out what to do.  Hamlet is depressed.  His feigned mental instability becomes real.  Claudius’ most trusted advisor is Polonius.  Hamlet loves Polonius’ daughter Ophelia.  Hamlet kills Polonius in a case of mistaken identity.  Ophelia is depressed.  Hamlet is disgusted by Ophelia’s immodest behavior and spurns her.  Ophelia is depressed.  Ophelia commits suicide.  Hamlet’s mother dies when she drinks poisoned wine meant for someone else. Hamlet dies at the point of a poisened blade but manages to finally kill Claudius before breathing his last.  He also manages to make someone called Fortinbras his heir to the throne.  Fortinbras orders Hamlet’s body to be carried off in honor.  The end. 

The line which is our assignment was taken from the words of Ophelia about Hamlet after he tells her to get to a nunnery:

 O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatch’d form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

Yeah.  I’m with you.  I’m not exactly what it means, either.  She sounds like a girl who’s pretty upset that her wacked out boyfriend broke up with her, even if he is wacked out. 

What to do????!!!

We have murder, love, rage, insanity, plots, war, incest, hatred, ghosts, poison, immodesty and all manner of other grim and dark elements.

Which leaves me trying to figure out how to capture ANY of this in a photo!

I wrote all of the above nearly a week ago.  I am nearly inspirationless still, and this “assignment” is due!  The only thing I kept thinking about all week long was my college days.  My dorm room was up in the dormers on the fourth floor.  They were the coolest of all the rooms in our building, called “East Hall”.  The rooms on our floor faced towards a hill which led up to one of the boys’ dorms, and overlooked the parking lot.  We learned a lot, and kept tabs on a lot, just by occasinally paying attention to what was going on outside, by observing, if you will.  🙂

Most of us in this little enclave suffered from more than the average amount of boyfriend drama, though perhaps not as much drama as Ophelia apparently endured.  I’d only been there about a month before the drama got to be almost hilarious.  We all decided that we’d rather live in a convent than have to deal with boys.  “Get thee to a nunnery” became our motto, our battle cry.  We called our little wing of rooms “the convent” and swore off boys.  We bought matching baseball shirts and had them personalized, just for our “team”.  The swearing off of boys didn’t last long, but the convent lived on.  It’s probably still the convent to this day.

I happened across that shirt a few weeks ago.  That’s probably why it’s the only thing I could think of for this entry.  So, instead of something creative, this is what you get….the official “convent” shirt of Houghton college:

 

This post was so much more about the story than the picture!  I’ll do better next week, I promise!

Click HERE to link to the site of Photo Friday’s hostess to check out the other entries for this week!

Next week’s assignment?  Pathos.

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About Lou (Linda)

Just a girl from Colorado trying to live life to God's glory with a certain amount of gusto! View all posts by Lou (Linda)

4 responses to ““The observed of all observers” – Photo Friday

  • Lady Luck

    Hey Lou,

    You worked so hard on this entry I feel guilty! Especially since I didn’t link my photo to the play itself – but in fact provided a photograph about someone watching while being watched (the observed of all observors).

    I used to teach Shakespeare at advanced level – and Hamlet was also one of my favourite plays. It’s not as grim a play as you would imagine in that Hamlet represents Renaissance man – a clever, bright and sesitive young man who is apalled by the wongdoings and lack of morals he sees in the Court (his dead father was King of Denmark). He feels the need to revenge his father’s death deeply (since at the time it was believed that if someone was unjustly killed their spirit and soul would never find rest and would suffer and be tortured for eternity).
    Hamlet is haunted by the ghost of his dead father who implores him to take revenge for his death – so that he may find eternal peace. Hamlet is torn – since he knows that to right the wrong for his father, he will need to kill another – and he realises that this will make him just as immoral as the person who murdered his beloved father in the first place. Because Hamlet is a thinking man, a scholar and has such great integrity himself – he agonises over what decision he should make.
    He even considers suicide because the decision he must make is so painful, “to be or not to be – that is the question” – but he is afraid that by committing suicide to avoid having to take action, or by exacting the revenge with another murder, he will be a coward (for the former) or rot in Hell (for the latter).
    Eventually the great love he has for his murdered father enables him to overcome his inaction and he eventually takes the revenge that will set his father’s soul free. In doing this he shows his great love for his father, and his own integrity and morality – even though he commits murder. Hamlet is a great man who was put in an impossible situation where he must do wrong to do right.
    The Ophelia part of the play is a secondary plot in a way – but strongly linked with the main storyline. Because Hamlet’s mother Getrude marries the man who murdered her husband (her husband’s brother) to gain the throne from himself – Hamlet is disgusted with her. He sees the marriage as a type of incest and deeply sinful. He turns against his mother – and starts to view all women as sinners. He therefore tells his fiancee Ophelia to “get thee to a nunnery” so she may be cleansed of her womanly sin.
    Hamlet is often portrayed as mad or becoming mentally disturbed by the events that take place – but my view is that he is such a sincere and deep thinking man, that he cannot take a decison for revenge lightly. It is because he is so intelligent and considers the action from every angle, and he knows the potential outcome for himself (if he does the action) or for his father (if he doesn’t take action) that this causes him a huge dilemma. He is damned if he does and his father is damned if he doesn’t. it would make anyones reasoning disturbed!
    Almost every character in the play is being observed (each by each other – the observors) as well as by the audience (observors) and of course we are all observed by God. So in a way the play is making a very powerful point. 🙂

    Sorry if this is way too long – but I just couldn’t resist! 🙂
    It is a complex play but quite beautifully written. It can seem on the surface like every type of tragedy has ben thrown in to the pot – but it has at it’s root morality, integrity, filial love, revenge, love, exitstential thinking, religion, and the dilemma of Renaissance man – amongst other things!

  • Lou (Linda)

    Lady Luck —

    Okay, well, your synopsis is WAY better than any of the ones I read! Thanks so much for shedding some light onto Hamlet. I can see that it is a tome I should stick somewhere in my reading pile and get to it one day. Thanks for taking the time to write such an in-depth comment. Your comment is infintely better than my post itself!! I’m looking forward to seeing what you have for us to do THIS week! 🙂

  • Photo Friday- The observed of all observers « Sky Windows

    […] This weeks assignment was particularly difficult. I honestly waited until the other two participants posted their pictures before I decided what to post. I had no idea what the phrase even meant until I read that it came from Hamlet from this post. […]

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