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Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

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Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

Post  Aslinn Dhan on April 19th 2011, 2:26 pm

Here is my take on Hamlet and the Sookie books. I know this is a real stretch but here it goes. I mainly wanted to write this because I have made certain comparisons of Eric to Hamlet, haunted by his father’s ghost. And in many ways Eric is being haunted by Godric.

The plot of Hamlet has really very little to do with True Blood and the Sookie Books. I suppose what I am looking at is a character comparison. And this is where we are confronted with an interesting sort of situation.

Hamlet is set in Denmark and something certainly smells there. The Old King is dead and the king’s widow has married up with the king’s brother, who may have killed the king to get his throne. Enter Hamlet, the tragic hero. He has been away at school and has returned to Denmark to attend the funeral and in a rapid turnaround, the marriage of his mother. It was so fast it was indecent. And this pisses Hamlet off.

Hamlet is told by his friends they have encountered the ghost of the king while they are in the night watch and Hamlet joins them and sees his father’s ghost who tells him he was poisoned by his brother and he should get revenge on his uncle, but leave his mother to heaven.

Through the story, we see Hamlet’s mental decline and the decline of his lover, Ophelia. He kills several people, including the father of Ophelia, Polonius and Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, and eventually King Claudius. His mother and his lover are killed or take their own lives. Hamlet is challenged to a duel by Laertes who stabs him with a poisoned sword and Hamlet kills him as well. Hamlet dies and Fortinbras becomes the King of Denmark.

Now, Shakespeare had to work within well established perimeters when writing about upper class people. For example, upper class people could not be made comic figures. So every one of Shakespeare’s plays about upper class people are tragedies. But he had stock characters, usually called clowns, who appeared and gave comic relief and made comments about the lives and practices of upper class people.

Now, our characters are not upper class people in the normal way. Eric is the only one who could honestly claim some noble birth as he is the son of a chieftain. He is wealthy and fairly ruthless and he rules his area with an iron fist. Bill is a commoner who has acquired his wealth through his life as Vampire. He has a large rambling house, which would denote he had some sort of status but he lost his fortunes if there be any during the war and was a farmer who farmed his own land.

Sookie is not a high born person, but she has the southern pride that her family is an old family and has lived on the same plot of land for over 100 years and her family is as well known and old as the Bellefleurs, who are the only ones who can claim some level of “Upper Class” though their fortunes have come to an ebb.

So how do I begin to sort out the characters for Hamlet and compare them to our gang?

Let’s begin with the least characters:

The Clowns- This does not mean their characters are not as important to the story. Keep in mind what I said before when they are there for comic relief and social commentary. They keep track of the social pulse and attitudes of the story. In Hamlet the clowns are grave diggers. Grave diggers had the lowliest job. They dug the graves of noble and commoner alike and they knew that no matter if you were the king or the king’s jester, everyone made their way here.

Jason, Hoyt and Lafayette work well as the grave diggers. They work on the road crew and they have encountered a dead body. In the third season, Hoyt discovers the body of the trucker, his head and hands torn off and his body bereft of blood. They make suppositions about the death and come to conclusions about who might have killed him. It was a Vampire who did the dead.

They also tell us what people think of the Vampires. This happens throughout the series. Jason and Hoyt and Lafayette from time to time tell us what society thinks of them. Jason hates Vampires because they encroach on his purview as the Bon Temps Hottie. He fears their skill as lovers and their sexuality until he gets to know a Vampire. Then he sees their weaknesses and their own humanity.

Hoyt is the opposite. He tries to see the good in them since he is in love with one. He is the male counterpart to Sookie, hopelessly in love with a Vampire, never quite sure how things will work and willing to judge based on merit and not on life status. They are people who can be both Vampire and Victim.

Lafayette is a loud mouth. He is the most flashy…sort of like a jester in motley and bright rags. He has a lesser, dimmer view of Vampires because he sees them as hustlers, like himself. They are hustling their lives and their uniquenesses to fang bangers. Lafayette is marketing himself. He understands they can do very bad things to him, but that is the trade off. He is not above commenting on them and those who involve themselves with them.

The Ladies of the Court:

Several of the characters of True Blood and the Sookie books play dual roles in Hamlet, which is appropriate because main players often played dual roles in plays.

Sookie and Tara and Jessica as Ophelia- Ophelia is Hamlet’s girlfriend. Now don’t get impatient with me…let me set this up for you.

I say that Sookie and Tara and Jessica are Ophelia for several reasons. They are both in the sights of a troubled Vampire. Simply trade Hamlet for Vampire and you have my comparison.

Tara gets involved with Franklin Mott, a decidedly unstable Vampire who becomes obsessed with her. Franklin plays with her emotions. She has already tried to kill herself and she is damaged goods by the time Franklin encounters her. A part of Tara does die inside her as he makes certain discoveries, primarily that Franklin is insane and wants to make her a Vampire and Jason killed her other lover, Eggs Talley. After that she sours against all supernatural beings.

Sookie is a conflicted character. She loves a Vampire and she hates them. She feels drawn to them but is repulsed by them. She is happy when she is being cared for and protected by them but hates that she needs them that way. In the end of season three she seeks to get away from them by going to faery and she feels the ultimate betrayal by one of them, the one she took as a lover.

Jessica is a character made what she is by Vampires. She is torn by her close feelings of being human and her obvious problems with being a newly fledged Vampire who cannot control herself. She places herself in dangerous situations and she creates dangerous situations for those around her. She does not trust her “father” Polonius/Bill but she depends on him.

Sookie as Gertrude- Gertrude was married to the old king and when the old king is killed she marries right away with Claudius. Claudius is a usurper to Hamlet and he introduces Gertrude to sex and sexuality and frees her up to be a bit of a wanton. Sookie is very like Gertrude. She begins in her story as a person who is slave to her disability and her experiences as a child. She is freed by her lover, Bill/Claudius and she learns that she is more than a waitress and victim. She has the capability to be loved.

But Gertrude is also in an entanglement with Hamlet, her son. Hamlet should have been the King of Denmark but no sooner had he come home to mourn his father and take on the mantle of responsibility she has been an unwitting pawn in his being usurped. Since she married the brother of her husband, he is now king and Hamlet is pissed off.

Hamlet confronts his mother with her “husband’s” deceptions. He blames her for the loss of his crown and points at her awakened sexuality. He accuses her of being cozened by his padding fingers and reechy kisses and turning her sacred marriage bed a garden of weeds and her blameless sheets of widowhood into insemened rags. This leads Gertrude to be conflicted about her love for Claudius, his commitment to her, and her sexuality as not freedom but some level of whoredom.

Sookie is confronted on many levels. She is confronted by the town in season one who thinks she is a Vampire’s whore and white trash. She is confronted by Eric when he points out the various problems with her relationship with Bill, and she is tormented by the deceptions of Bill and torn by her feelings for Eric.

The Gentlemen of the Court-

Eric and Bill as Hamlet- I will get Bill out of the way quickly and neatly because the main player for this role is Eric. But Bill has his own ghosts and troubles that make him very like Hamlet in his own way.

Hamlet is a tragic hero. So is Bill. He is privy to mind shattering knowledge that will destroy his world, and his world right now is Bon Temps and Sookie. He has returned to Bon Temps with the intention of claiming his ancestral home and mainstreaming, a Vampire who lives in accordance with Human life and he is also responsible for several deaths. In the books and the show he is responsible for Sookie’s break down. He is also being usurped by Eric/Claudius. He, like Hamlet, is haunted as well. He is haunted by his mission, that he is in Louisiana to procure Sookie, he is a victim of his maker who stole him from his family and he is haunted by his own Vampire self. He hates himself and those like him and he trusts no one.

Eric has a more tenuous hold on the part of Hamlet because he is haunted by the ghost of his father. Godric of course is the easy one, but his human father, Ulfrick, as well. Ulfrick makes Eric swear to revenge him…and Eric swears it. For one thousand years, Eric has been haunted by the deaths of his parents by werewolves at the behest of a Vampire who steals his father’s crown. He becomes single minded in his pursuit of the killer and eventually regains the crown his father had.

Godric is his Vampiric father who kills himself to escape his torment as a Vampire with a conscience. He is burdened by the knowledge he is a monster among humankind and he cannot see a way to reconcile his existence in the world of humans. After he greets the sun, Godric proceeds to haunt Eric as Eric is confronted with various problems.

Hamlet finds Claudius in his chapel praying for his sins of betrayal. Hamlet then has an argument with himself about whether he should kill him now and have it done with for the sake of expediency and send Claudius soul to heaven or should he wait when he is in the midst of sin, drinking and partying and sleeping with Gertude and ensure his soul goes to hell. He opts for the latter. He misses his opportunity and lets Claudius go.

Eric does something along these lines when he tricks Edgington to go into the sun. He handcuffs himself to Edginton and tells him to be brave, they will die together. But there in the midst of all this drama, Godric appears to Eric and tells him to have mercy on Edgington, everything deserves mercy. Thanks for telling me dad.

The second time we see Eric confronted with his father’s ghost is when Eric tries to bury Edgington in a concrete foundation. Godric is still spewing forth his enlightened view of mercy and hope and the value of the soul…Eric ain’t buying it…mainly because he owes something far more complex to his human father, the man who brought him to being rather than the ancient child before him who became his other father.

Eric and Bill and King Russell as Claudius- Yeah, the boys have something with the antagonist of Hamlet. They are both usurpers in their own way and both have been instrumental in the beginning of all the drama. If Claudius had not killed the Old King none of this would happened. The Old King would have died in his bed in the devoted arms of his Queen and Hamlet would have been the king. Nuff said.

King Russell as Claudius is an easy one. He begins his twisted foray in the lives of our Hamlets by killing Eric’s dad and stealing his crown. Now he has “outgrown his sand box” and he looks to usurp Sophie Anne. Then in the end when all his best laid plans are torn asunder by Bill and Eric he “goes medieval” on TV and tries to usurp the American Vampire League and the Authority, the shadowy Vampire government meant to keep control of the kings and queens and keep them in line while the AVL tries their best to show the world a harmless Vampire minority trying to just mainstream. Yeah, how’s that working out for you?

Bill as Claudius is a bit more problematic. Bill is burdened by his fealty to Queen Sophie Anne and the orders she gave him when he went to Bon Temps. He then falls in love with Sookie, the target and gets all tangled up his loyalties. He then joins forces with Edgington to keep Sookie safe and aid him in his usurpment of Sophie Anne while keeping Sookie safe. Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive.

But Bill is also Claudius because of his relationship to Sookie. He woos her and seduces her and gives her love and passion…a lot of passion. He awakens her sexual self and falls in love with her and she with him, but all is overshadowed by his sin. Just as Claudius married Gertrude to snatch away the crown from Hamlet, Bill drew Sookie into his world for his queen.

Eric is Claudius because he seeks to get revenge and his revenge is twofold. He wants to usurp Sophie Anne to free his child Pam now in the clutches of the Magister because she betrayed him for selling Vampire Blood. And he wants a little pay back for dear old dad in Sweden.

He is also Claudius because of Sookie. He wants to usurp Bill in Sookie’s heart and claim her for his own. He is intrigued by her but he does not know why. He has not tasted Sookie yet at the beginning of season three, but having his blood skipping gaily through Sookie’s fae veins has turned him on like a 100 watt light bulb in 30 watt lamp…Something is gonna catch fire soon. Even without a taste of Sookie’s ambrosia he is fantasizing about her throwing him on the bed and having her little Stackhouse way with him.

Bill as Laertes-

Laertes is the brother of Ophelia and he is willing to do whatever to get a little personal revenge and to protect the memory of Ophelia, whom Hamlet has toyed with til she committed suicide. He teams up with Claudius and promises to be Claudius’ champion and kill Hamlet. And he will fight dirty. Claudius asks him what lengths he would go to get his revenge. Laertes says he would kill him at the altar in a church. To this end, Laertes anoints his sword with a poison and he waits his King to challenge Hamlet to a friendly contest.

Bill is Laertes in that he is willing to do whatever. He will foreswear fealty from one monarch to another, he will deceive and cozen to meet his ends and he will extend a friendly hand only to cut it off. He betrays Sophie Anne, his maker Lorena, his new King and finally tries to send his sheriff to a cementy death. All for the love of Sookie.

Bill as Polonius-

Polonius is Ophelia’s father and the king’s advisor and meets a nasty end at Hamlet’s sword point. He tries to play both sides of the chess board and uses Ophelia as bait. He thinks he knows everything but he only knows some things and this is what gets him in deep shit.

This is how Bill is. He is a mixture of father and lover to Sookie. He is by virtue of his age an elder to Sookie. He tells her what she needs to know at the time and but nothing is as valuable to Sookie as what he tells her after the fact. He plays confidant to King Russell and to some extent to Eric. He even uses Sookie as bait to get King Russell in Eric’s clutches. It all turns bad for Bill as Eric survives his attempts to kill him and all his deceptions to Sookie are revealed.

The Scenes in Hamlet

Now, I caution anyone who is a fan of Hamlet that not all of the scenes I am going to discuss will be word for word mirror images of the show or the books....You have to read into the intent. The first scene I want to discuss is in the first act of Hamlet when Laertes, Ophelia's brother is having a chat with her about Hamlet's intentions toward her. He reminds Ophelia that Hamlet is royal born and has all the responsibilities of the crown heavy on his head and she should be careful he is simply not dallying with her.

Laertes: ...As he in his particular act and place/ May give his saying deed...then weigh what loss your honor might sustain / If with too credent ear you list his songs,/ Or lose your heart or your chaste treasure open to his unmastered importunity.

Laertes is warning Ophelia that Hamlet is a player and he is likely to take advantage of her because of his station in life (The prince of Denmark) mirrors what Jason says to Sookie in their grandmother's house the night Bill is to meet with their Gran.

Jason: Look, I'm just sayin' do you want a Vampire suckin' blood out of you? Cuz' that's where it is gonna end up...always does.....

Jason has seen the sex tape of Liam with Maudette and he is sickened by the Vampire's lusty coupling with Maudette and he feels as though he knows the truth of Vampires. He wants to protect Sookie from what he thinks is typical Vampire behavior...What is interesting image wise is the scene of Eric and Yvetta in his basement. The scene mirrors the video of Maudette hanging from the rope of her apartment rafters with Sookie and Pam as the witnesses. Sookie reacts as Jason does and Pam reacts the way Maudette does.

The next scene I want to discuss is the most famous scene in Hamlet where Hamlet is apparently alone, about to encounter Ophelia. This is the famous 'To Be or Not to Be' scene where Hamlet contemplates his mortality and his purpose upon earth and possibly the deadly solution. It is a subtle forshadowing of the play and all it's tragic events.

This scene could be attributable to a couple of characters: Bill and Godric. They are both tormented by what they are and who they are. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Hamlet: To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Bill says this in part to Sookie in Episode Three of Season One when he talks about his "Many lifetimes of thoughts" and he argues with Lorena about his "Lost Humanity". When Hamlet says "Thus conscience makes cowards of us all and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought...." this seems to reflect Bill's state of mind whenever he must confront the truth: The truth of why he is in Bon Temps, his motives behind every action whether it be allowing the Rattrays beat the hell out of Sookie or his extended hand to Eric just before he hand cuffs him with silver and jerks him into concrete. Bill is tormented by his conscience and he is conflicted and caught in games he had not part in making the rules for.

But the most obvious comparison is with Godric. Godric is the tormented figure, asking whether his kind are a part of the natural order of things and whether they should still be on the "mortal coil". It harkens back to the argument he has with Eric when he says "We don't belong here," and "We cannot co-exist," and "We have not evolved, no wonder humans fear us, we are wrong, we are monsters" echoing Hamlet: To die, to sleep--No more--and by a sleep to say we end/ The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks /That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished./ To die, to sleep--To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,/ For in that sleep of death what dreams may come/ When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, /Must give us pause. There's the respect /That makes calamity of so long life.

And when Eric leaves to get out of the sun, leaving Sookie with Godric, he asks her if she believes in God and she says she does and he asks her "How will God punish me?" He echoes Hamlet when he says: But that the dread of something after death, /The undiscovered country, from whose bourn/ No traveller returns, puzzles the will,/ And makes us rather bear those ills we have/ Than fly to others that we know not of?

One of the things that troubles Hamlet in addition to his being usurped by Claudius is the technical state of Incest he and his mother are in. Hamlet suffers from an obvious case of the Oedipus Complex. The Oedipus Complex is a psychological state all men go through but eventually defeat in childhood where like the Greek character, he falls in love with his mother and is jealous of his father. (Of course Oedipus did not know the woman he loved was his mother nor the man he killed his father, but that is neither here nor there) In the old days of the church, when you were married, the siblings of your spouse became your siblings and were therefore off limits for marriage. Hamlet resents not only the politics of his mother’s marriage but his mother’s sexual reawakening.

Sigmund Feud writes of the character Hamlet in his book The Interpretation of Dreams:

Hamlet is able to do anything- except take vengeance on the man who did away with his father and took that father’s place with his mother, the man who shows him the repressed wishes of his childhood realized. Thus the loathing which should drive him on to revenge is replaced with self reproach and loathing and scruples of conscience and he himself is no better than the man who killed his father.

Hamlet has found Claudius in his chapel praying after he has see the play The Mousetrap and he has an attack of conscience because he murdered the king. Hamlet pauses before he strikes, trying to decide if this is the moment.
Hamlet says: Why…this is not revenge/ He took my father grossly, full of bread,/With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May/ And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?/ But in our circumstances and course of thought/ Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged/ To take him in the purging of his soul/ when he is fit and season’d for his passage?/ No!/ Up Sword and know thou a more horrid hent:/When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,/ Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed

And this whole familial situation with the notion of technical if not actual incest mirrors the Vampires relationships with their progeny. Bill of course with his strange Hamlet/Gertrude relationship and Russell Edgington with Talbot and Eric with Pam shows the strange sexual/parental dynamic of Vampires. But of all of the troubled relations between the Vampires and their children and parents, Bill and Lorena’s is the most troubled. Unlike Eric and Pam, whose sexual relationship cooled and became something else, Bill and Lorena’s relationship is a struggle for power and sex is a weapon on both sides.

In season two Bill pointedly discusses his contempt for her and the violent lives they have been leading. He says “I am sick of the taking of innocent lives and the bloody beds,” echoing Hamlet’s disgust with his mother’s blooming sexuality “Nay, but to live / In the rank sweat of of an ensemened bed, / Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love/ Over the nasty sty.”

Then in season three we see Bill lose his mind and he angrily and violently has sex with her. Of all of the performances that seem to capture the mind of Hamlet, Mel Gibson’s enactment of Hamlet in this scene, where he grabs Gertrude and forces her to the bed and lays on top of her, miming the act of sex becomes the mirror of Bill’s anger with Lorena. Bill is a conflicted character like Hamlet, unable to sort out his desire to be free and his anger with Lorena and the thrall she has him in and he takes it out on her by battering her with his penis and twisting her head around, yet, like Hamlet, he cannot complete the act and kill the thing that causes his conflict. In this, Lorena plays dual roles of Gertrude and Claudius, betrayer and mother, lover and victimizer, maker and child, usurper and accomplice.

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And in the midst of this scene between Hamlet and Gertrude, we have the visitation of the Ghost. The Ghost for Hamlet is his father, reminding him of his promise to leave Gertrude to heaven. He tells Hamlet : Do not forget! This visitation/ Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. This purpose was to get revenge against Claudius and to let Gertrude find her own salvation. In this case, Hamlet is Eric, being visited by Godric. Godric visits Eric twice in the third season. The first time, Eric is handcuffed to Russell and they are in the sun, burning to death and Godric asks Eric to have mercy. Eric is torn because he wants revenge for his human father and he wants to obey Godric who is now his conscience. The second time is toward the end of the season when he is burying Edgington in cement and Godric appears again and asks again for Eric’s mercy on Edgington’s behalf and Eric refuses his request for mercy, feeling he has done his best by both Godric and his human father by simply burying Edgington when he could have staked him or left him in the sun.

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In Act Four Scene Four of Hamlet, there is an unusual soliloquy. A soliloquy is a speech a character gives an audience that tells you something of the mind set of the character and what might happen very soon and why. Hamlet has just met with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and he is aware he is to go to England as punishment for killing Polonius and he is very aware his friends are to kill him as he travels on his way.

Hamlet takes a moment to think about the state of men’s souls It is a strangely Vampiric speech, a discourse of ethics and the notion we are all God created and imbued by blood and because it, we are bestial and thirsty for the blood of those we perceive as enemies. Are we really civilized and do we really have our humanity. Bill tells Lorena: “You stole me from my family, you stole me from my humanity”. Hamlet observes: What is a man when his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast no more. Sure He (God) that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after gave us not the capability and godlike reason to grow in us unused. Now whether it be some bestial oblivion or some craven scruple…

In the end of this quote Hamlet is struggling with the beast raging inside himself and the cowardice he feels as he tries to restrain it as it prolongs his task, and that is for revenge.

But the end reflects Eric’s task of revenge: O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody or nothing worth. Eric has no scruples about the lengths he will go to for revenge. He will do whatever he must to do two things: Save Pam from the Magister and get his revenge on Sophie Anne and kill Edgington and get revenge for his human father.

The next scene I want to discuss is the scene where Ophelia is in the court and she is quite mad. Hamlet has killed Polonius and he has jilted her. In classical British drama, Ophelia takes the stage at first in a clean white dress, a symbol of her youth and purity and modesty. Her father and brother early in the play warn her of giving her favors, that is her sexual favors, to Hamlet and there is some suggestion that she has at least gone part of the way with Hamlet but is not compromised. Hamlet jilts her because he knows that Polonius, Claudius and Gertrude are using her as bait to calm Hamlet and distract him til his mind can accept the marriage of his mother with his uncle. Then, Hamlet kills Polonius who is spying on Hamlet when he goes his mother’s bedroom and confronts her about her incest with his uncle. When Ophelia appears in the court, her gown is soiled, denoting she has indeed been a fool.

So, Ophelia goes mad. One of the striking things she says that tends to be simply shrugged off is a statement which to me is echoed by Sookie. Sookie eventually discovers she is something more than human. Bill senses her difference. At first he ascribes it to her being a telepath, but then he begins to suspect she is more when he can stand in the sun after a glut of her blood. Sookie, throughout the books and the show is asked repeatedly by Bill and others what she is and she does not know. Edgington even wants to know and Sookie tells him she has done some things that are not answered by her telepathy, she even postulates she is an alien.

Ophelia is in the same sort of situation: No longer daughter, no longer lover, she is mad and she has become something else. She wanders into the court and the king asks her:

How do you, pretty lady?
Ophelia: Well, God love you. They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but not what we may be….

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A little later, Ophelia again reminds me of Sookie in her madness. In one of the books, Eric confronts Bill and forces him to tell Sookie why he came to Bon Temps. This drives Sookie mad. She walks the streets of New Orleans and tells a homeless man she never had anything that she had nothing til she had Bill and he made her crazy. She has been seduced, exploited and betrayed. Ophelia is the same as she sings:

Young men will do it if they come to it
By Cock they are to blame
Before you tumbled me
You promised me to wed
And had I not done by yonder sun
You would not have come to my bed.

Ophelia’s grief eventually overtakes her and she makes one more trip into the court. There she hands out flowers. Each flower she gives has a folkloric meaning. When I read this passage, I always thing of Sookie gathering flowers to take to Bill’s grave, and the lighting of the candle for the dead. Roses are for remembrance and violets are for thoughts and rue is for regret.

Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, returns home when he hears of his father’s death. He is beset with misery and he is confronted with Ophelia’s madness. He is also approached by Claudius who tells him Polonius was killed by Hamlet.

He asks Laertes: What would you undertake to show yourself indeed your father’s son more than in words.
Laertes: To cut his throat in a church.

In this, both Eric and Bill are Laertes. Their willingness to do whatever it takes knows no bounds. Their priorities are different and their rationales are different, but their willingness is the same.

Bill is willing to do whatever he must to protect Sookie. Eric is there to save Pam and get revenge for Ulfrick’s murder. Sookie is low on Eric’s list of priorities right now. Bill changes his loyalties from Sophie Anne, the author of his deceptions and his reasons for being in Bon Temps, and give them to a limited degree to Russell Edgington and to Lorena, whom he loathes. Eric will do whatever. He will betray his queen, betray Bill, seduce the king, seduce his lover, whatever he must do to meet the ends and that is to protect Pam and free her and kill Edgington.

But, back to Laertes. Laertes makes his promise to Claudius to do whatever he must to get revenge. Before he can do it, Ophelia kills herself. The description of Ophelia and her suicide by drowning brings to mind the vision of Faery as created (woefully) by the writers of True Blood. Whenever I see Bill open the door of his resting place and rise up from the enchanted pool portal, I think of the way Gertrude describes Ophelia’s death to Laertes. She says:

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There with garlands she did make
Of Crow flowers, nettles, daisies and long purples
That liberal shepherds call a grosser name
But our chaste maids do dead men’s fingers call them
There on the center of her crown she wove
And did try to send into the water and slipped
Fell into the weeping brook , her clothes spread wide
And Mermaid like for a while did bear her up
And she sang bits of old songs
Undistressed and unable to help herself
But long it could not be
Til her soaking clothes dragged her down into the water
And pulled her to her death…drowned.

And of course as well as an image of the Faery world she visits and runs away to in the end of season three, Sookie also remembers her parents were drowned and she cannot swim, she has always feared the water.

Act Five begins with the clown scene. Clown scenes in Shakespeare’s plays were meant to break up the intense drama and prepare the audience for the most shocking events of the play. It is also a chance for Shakespeare to put in social commentary. Remember, the upper class characters have to be shown in dignified ways, they could not be buffoonish characters to laugh at, so the upper classes were often in tragedies. The only respite would be the clown scenes.

Clown scenes are enacted by characters in motley and rags, that is brightly colored costumes and brightly painted faces. They are florid lower class people who see things simply but have a common sense the audience would grasp.

There are multiple clowns and clown scenes in True Blood. The scenes of Jason in first season with his myriad of women and his friends, Jason high on V at Bill’s speech, Jason with his case of priapism, Jason in a theological discussion with the boys at the leadership conference…sling a dead cat and you will see Jason in some clown scene.

The combination of Jason, Hoyt and Lafayette are classic clown scenes. But these are not the only ones who are clowns in True Blood. In True Blood everyone is fair game for a clown scene. Sookie is in multiple clown scenes, Bill makes an appearance or two, even Eric is not above a clown scene. The scenes with Liam, Diane and Malcolm can be thought of as clown scenes.

But to get down to specific scenes which mirror Hamlet we have to look at two death scenes: The funeral of Adele Stackhouse and the discovery of the headless trucker by Lafayette, Hoyt and Jason.

In Hamlet, the clown scene happens in a grave yard. Ophelia has died and she died by suicide. The clowns are engaged in a theological discussion about whether Ophelia deserves a Christian funeral or should she be buried without the comfort of the church because she committed suicide.

The second clown knows the answer: Will you have the truth on it? Had she not been a noble woman she would have been buried without Christian rites.

This entire scene reminds me of the funeral of Gran. The audience are the clowns and Sookie is the unwilling receiver of their condemnations, not for Adele whom everyone agrees was a good woman and did not deserve her death, but Sookie’s complicity. Had she not been involved with Vampires, had she not been screwing around with Vampires, had she not been white trash, her grandmother would still be alive. Sookie then, crazy as they as they suspect her to be, screams at the audience.

The second scene is of course the reaction of the boys of their grisly discovery and the reaction of the sheriff to the dilemma: I have gaps in my brains and polyps in my ass…I don’t need this horse shit!!!!

This leads to another famous scene in Hamlet and that is the Yorick scene. If you are following closely, you know what is coming.

Hamlet comes into the graveyard fresh from avoiding his assassination in England and he comes upon our two grave diggers. They have dug a grave and in the course of doing so, they dig up a skull. The grave digger recognizes the skull as the king’s jester: Yorick.

Hamlet: (holding the skull) Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times..Here hung those lips I have kissed I know not how oft…

Of course the image of Hamlet holding the skull of Yorick mirrors Franklin holding he head of the trucker in front of Jessica and making the head talk….As Hamlet says…”My gorge rises at the thought of it.”

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So now we are well on our way to the end of our play. Hamlet returns and presents himself to the court and Laertes makes well his anger known to Hamlet over the deaths of his father and sister. Hamlet knows the end is near.

Claudius sends word to Hamlet that in an attempt to resolve the matter between Laertes and Hamlet, the two should have a contest of wills. They will have a sword fight. Laertes prepares himself by poisoning his sword so that even the slightest nick, he will be poisoned and will die.

The use of poisons and other materials to effect death or some other change is an old method. It is the method of stealth and usually thought of a noble person’s method, especially a noble woman’s way of getting rid of someone who is the bane of one’s existence. Ask Lucretia Borgia.

One of the things we saw in season two was the Maenad and her use of potions to control and otherwise make mad the inhabitants of Bon Temps. Vampire Blood creates rage and sexual intensity and strength and madness in the untutored user. We also have the fact Maenad’s blood and venom can kill, even Vampires. In the comics and the Countdown adventure, we contemplate the possibility Vampires can be poisoned.

Sookie of course has blood that contains properties as magikal as Vampire blood. It is addictive to Vampires as far as Sookie is concerned and it does allow Vampires to day walk for a certain amount of time. Edgington even hopes her blood can resurrect Talbot and I can tell you that in the next fall’s Countdown adventure, I explore the further possibility that faery blood can be valuable to Vampires in many ways.

Hamlet dies in the end of the play, but not without taking a whole bunch of people with him. Like the Vampires in True Blood, there will be blood. Hamlet and Laertes kill each other with the same sword. Claudius poisoned a glass of wine and Gertrude accidentally drinks it and is poisoned and Hamlet forces the rest of the poisoned wine down the throat of Claudius, killing him as well.

By the end of season three, we have seen a multitude of deaths. Lorena, Coot, Talbot, the various guards, the Magister, and very nearly Bill and Eric more than once. Both Hamlet and True Blood and the Sookie Books will get everything they want in a drama: Love, lust, sex, revenge, blood, treachery, intrigue and murder. Shakespeare wrote Hamlet four hundred years ago and True Blood and the Sookie Books keep up with a grand tradition of our less than prurient interest in dramatic lives of colorful characters.

And I offer my sincerest apologies to the bard…..





Last edited by Aslinn Dhan on April 21st 2011, 1:13 pm; edited 9 times in total (Reason for editing : Added to the essay)

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Re: Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

Post  Linzy on April 21st 2011, 2:05 am

Wow, that is such a great comparison. I would never have thought to equivocate those two. I can't wait to hear more of your thoughts.
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Re: Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

Post  Aslinn Dhan on April 21st 2011, 12:37 pm

Essay is complete...

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Re: Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

Post  Barrister on April 21st 2011, 1:50 pm

WHat a wonderful essay and I do love the bits you included for it form YouTube and the art...just brings it right to home.

I never thought of hte complexities of both Hamlet and True Blood and the Sookie Books because they are so disapperate they don't seem to have anything in common..but you do a wonderful job analyzing it for us...Thank you ever so much...

And Shakespeare was the soap opera writer of his time...I don't think he would mind being compared to TB and the SVM

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Re: Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

Post  Aolani on April 21st 2011, 2:36 pm

I love the comparisons. I mean, you have compared TB to The Godfather, Gone With the Wind, and now Hamlet! It really stretches the imagination and I love how you show us that no matter the times, we all have so much in common and the genres of book and movies convey that and aptly remind us that no matter the differences, vampire, fairy, witch , were or human, we all have something in us that remains the same. Very well thought out and explained too! I have a picture in my living room of the drowning scene of Olphelia, and now I know I will think of TB whenever I see it now. cheers

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Re: Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

Post  Barrister on April 21st 2011, 10:15 pm

I learn so much from these essays. I have read Hamlet many times and it never would have dawned on me to find similarities to True Blood...

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Re: Hamlet, True Blood and Sookie Books

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