Skip to content

Rewriting Hamlet

by on January 5, 2012

My senior year of high school, we studied Hamlet in English class.  Of all the Shakespearean play we studied, it was definitely my favorite, but I didn’t like the end.  Of course, I didn’t want everyone to die, especially Hamlet.  I mean, he has worked all throughout the play to avenge his father’s murder, and has finally succeeded.  Then he dies?  Even worse for me was Fortinbras.  Who was this guy?  He didn’t even make an appearance until the very end, and he gets to just walk on the stage in the last scene and become the king?  It bothered me.  I thought Hamlet and Fortinbras should at least meet.  So when the teacher assigned us to write an essay about Hamlet, I instead rewrote the last scene.  In the process, I learned a couple things about writing.

Small Changes

I ended up keeping virtually all of the dialog from the original, and I only added one or two lines.  And yet, by simply rearranging the lines, that part of the story progressed in different direction.  I learned that very small changes can make a very profound difference to the final story.  There are two ways that this can affect writing.  First, if something isn’t working, a major overhaul may not be necessary to fix it.  Second, rewriting is a art, and if I’m not careful, I could change a lot more than I expect.

Being True

The biggest thing that I learned, however, was that I couldn’t make all the changes I wanted to.  I originally imagined Hamlet fighting (and defeating) Fortinbras, staying alive, and becoming the king.  As I tried to write it, I realized that it really wouldn’t work that way.  The story had been leading in a certain direction, and I couldn’t change it all unless I went back and rewrote the whole play.  In the end, although I had Hamlet fight Fortinbras and beat him, Hamlet still died.  Fortinbras still became the king.  Writing is about finding the story, not forcing it to be what I want.

Advertisements

From → Writing

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: