Stone Washington
To live free or fail to see... that is the question for America
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By Stone Washington
February 11, 2015


"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"

~ Hamlet

Words without thought never to Heaven go.

~ Claudius: Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3

Act 1

The timeless classic and remarkable tragedy William Shakespeare's Hamlet, written between 1599-1601, begins with Hamlet, a Danish royal Prince, who has received word about his Father, King Hamlet's sudden death. Hamlet is thrown into a state of sorrow and anguish, mixed with disgust when he discovers that his mother Gertrude, the Queen is marrying Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. Hamlet dresses entirely in black (which is disrespectful) at the royal wedding of Claudius and his mother. Suspecting treason, the young Prince is disillusioned due to the fact that his mother married his deceptive uncle so soon (one month) after the passing of her beloved husband. Meanwhile as Laertes, the son of Polonius the chief counselor to the crown, leaves for the University of Paris, he warns his sister Ophelia not to be affectionate towards Hamlet, "Hamlet's position prevents him from marrying whomever he wishes." Polonius agrees and denies the possibility that the two could ever even be wedded and gives his two children a hypocritical lesson on morality and proper behavior.

Later it is reveled to Hamlet by his friend Horatio and guards, Marcellus and Bernardo, that a mysterious ghost is haunting Elsinore palace. As Hamlet and his companions investigate, Hamlet is suddenly confronted by the Ghost in the woods. The Ghost tells the Prince that he is actually Hamlet's father and that he was treacherously murdered by Claudius, who secretly poured poison into the King's ear while he slept. Completely shocked by this revelation, Hamlet runs from the Ghost after the spirit urges the Prince to avenge his father's death. Hamlet reveals the Ghost's message to his friend Horatio and the guards, and vows revenge upon his uncle Claudius.

Act 2

Soon, Hamlet begins acting bizarre to cover-up his plot for vengeance. This behavior worries Claudius, and he sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, university colleagues of Hamlet, to spy on the Prince. Polonius believes that Hamlet is mad over Ophelia rejecting Hamlet's love, but in truth Hamlet has rejected Ophelia in his obsessive pursuit of revenge. Hamlet plans to test the Ghost's words by concocting an elaborate play replicating the scenario of his father's supposed death. Hamlet proclaims, "The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."

Act 3

Soon Claudius and Polonius hide behind a tapestry as Hamlet is talking with Ophelia and hear Hamlet's famous Soliloquy of revenge, yet existential doubt –
    "To be or not to be... that is the question:

    Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings of arrows of outrageous fortune,

    or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them."

After Hamlet's ominous words he confronts Ophelia and rebukes her love advances toward him, denouncing the idea of marriage altogether. Later, during the play many are astonished at the psychological depth of the storyline and characters' actions, particularly where the poison is poured into the king's ear by the assassin. However, Claudius is suddenly consumed with guilt and pleads to the heavens for a reprieve from his torment as he leaves the auditorium. Hamlet is emboldened in his plot for revenge and tells his assistant Horatio that the Ghost spoke the truth, that indeed Claudius murdered Hamlet's father. One night Hamlet spies upon Claudius as the King is preparing to sleep. Hamlet grabs a knife and holds it at striking distance near the King, who is intensely repenting and praying toward God. Because of this prayer, Hamlet holds off on assassinating Claudius for now because he believes that if he kills him now, his spirit may ascend to Heaven because of his atonement. As Hamlet exits, Claudius is aggravated by the fact that despite his sincere prayers his soul remains tormented, and is afraid that he may have to sacrifice the throne, his wife, and all the other treasures gained through killing his brother King Hamlet to truly obtain redemption and the forgiveness of God.

Later, Hamlet angrily tries to convince his mother Gertrude that Claudius killed her husband the King. Hamlet begins to see the Ghost of King Hamlet in the bedroom who speaks to Hamlet, causing Gertrude to become afraid because she cannot see anything. As Gertrude yells for help, a mysterious voice begins to shout for help from behind the curtains, alerting Hamlet of a spy (believing it to be Claudius), causing him to stab the perpetrator through the curtain. The man is none other than Polonius, who lies dead on the floor in a pool of blood. Hamlet tells Gertrude to repent and stay away from Claudius as he hides the body and later refuses to tell Claudius and the royal officials of its whereabouts. Enraged by this matter, Claudius sends Hamlet off to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Act 4

Soon Laertes storms Elsinore castle backed by an angry mob who want him to be king. An enraged Laertes is calmed Claudius tells him that he cannot punish Hamlet because the people of Denmark cherish the young Prince. Speaking with Laertes, Claudius devises a scheme to have a fencing match between Laertes and Hamlet with some hidden poison traps to assure the Prince's untimely demise. Meanwhile, after some time passes in England, Hamlet evades an array of random pirate hijackings and hired assassinations (assassins hired by Claudius) and returns to his kingdom of Denmark. Upon returning he hears word that Ophelia has been driven mad by her father Polonius's death, her brother Laertes's absence, and Hamlet's denial of affection. Ophelia was soon found deceased from drowning in a river near Elsinore castle.

Act 5 Finale

A funeral service is held for Ophelia to which Hamlet and Horatio unseen, spy upon from the trees. Grief-stricken and inconsolable, Laertes emerges from the crowd of mourners and jumps onto the open-coffin of his sister, refusing to let her be buried. Suddenly Hamlet emerges from the bushes and intervenes, announcing his love toward Ophelia. This causes Laertes to attack Hamlet in an eruption of rage and the two fight until the audience breaks them up. Laertes declares that Hamlet will battle with him in a fencing match over Ophelia's affection, and the Prince accepts his terms. Hamlet exits, unbeknownst to him that Claudius and Laertes have devised a series of traps for him within the fencing tournament.

Hamlet and Laertes prepare to duel in a courtroom within Elsinore castle. The room is attended only by the King, Queen and a couple of others. Hamlet chooses his foil (sword), while Laertes picks up his foil, which has been secretly has poison on the tip. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes for killing his father Polonius, and begs for his forgiveness as a friend. Laertes accepts the apology, but vows that he must avenge his father nevertheless. The two begin to battle, with Hamlet wining the first round. Claudius offers Hamlet some wine for refreshment (which is secretly poisoned) but the Prince denies it and advances to the next round. Unexpectedly Gertrude begins to drink out of the poisoned cup, ignoring Claudius's abrasive warning not to drink from it. Soon Laertes lands a blow on Hamlet with his dull poisoned tip. At this time Gertrude begins to suffer from the poison and warns Hamlet of the poisoned drink as she dies upon the floor. Hamlet suddenly realizes Laertes's treachery and clashes with him, eventually killing him with a mortal blow by the poisoned sword (which was switched mid-battle). In dying words Laertes blames the death of himself and his father Polonius not on the young Prince, but on the deceptive cunning of Claudius. In a rage Hamlet chases down Claudius and stabs the King to death with the poisoned sword. Hamlet then tells Horatio to spread the truthful word of the events that transpired in this room – the Prince then dies moments later. The castle is suddenly hijacked by the Prince of Norway, Fortinbras and his legions of soldiers. The Prince seizes control over the kingdom and after hearing Horatio's recitation of the tragic events that transpired, he decides to have a royal burial for Hamlet.

Message for today

The complex tragedy of Hamlet is perhaps William Shakespeare's greatest masterpiece ever written. It is an eternal object lesson of the depths of human depravity, lust for power and failings of human nature. For this reason I believe there lay an infinite amount of similarities within the play's timeless history and unforgettable lessons. Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, symbolizes the fate of America, a once prosperous and plentiful nation at the peak of greatness, now at the brink of extinction as America exchanged its Judeo-Christian traditions of Natural Law, Natural Rights inherited from the constitutional Framers for Marxism, Socialism, Evolution atheism and moral relativism. As Hamlet suffers from the quandary: "To be or not to be... that is the question," means today to exist in an existential cruel world, devoid of moral boundaries, thus leading to endless suffering in national suicide. This may be the most prescient quote applying to America as the greatest nation in history of nations suffers from devastating national debt, rise in gun violence and brutality toward police forces, illegal immigrant overflow, and a tyrannical series of Socialist/Progressive regimes that has deconstructed and destroyed America's Judeo-Christian institutions and fundamental traditions for over 100 years.

Here is a Socratic question of ultimate concern: Will America allow these decadent and destructive circumstances to inevitable consume the U.S. into oblivion, or will Americans rise up and conquer these issues which have plagued our lives, liberty, and legacy upon the world? Hamlet chose to exist in the world of reality and thus conquered his enemies. But by becoming consumed in his quest for revenge he lost perspective, was consumed by revenge and therefore brought upon his untimely doom and the tragic death of not only himself, but virtually all his relatives, friends and those closely acquainted with him. America, unlike Hamlet's delusions, we must choose to exist in the world reality; we must conquer those elements like Socialism and Communism which threaten our downfall, and not seek blind revenge to destroy our foes as Hamlet had, forsaking his gifted qualities in the process and losing his life and his kingdom; but America must collectively use our knowledge, history, and reason to guide our tactics and strategies toward cultural and societal victory.

Hamlet like America is gifted with many notable qualities: brilliance, an heir to the throne of royalty, and an honorable prominence recognized by the entire world. It is because of our primary position as the world's singular Superpower that we are faced with an infinite amount of enemies jealous of our progress and who despise the good within society, for example the United Nations and its numerous member States who like the Greek Hydra monster from antiquity seeks only to have America begging on her knees. The sinister traitor Claudius is representative of this enemy, who surreptitiously poisons Denmark from within, hijacking the royal throne from his own brother. America must come to see that the countless number of Claudius' within our country is alive through President Barack Obama and what my father, Professor Ellis Washington calls his existential Progressive Revolution. The Democrat Socialist Party who run this revolution have essentially murdered the God worldview given to us by our Founding Fathers and thus has broken the Social Contract and trust between We the People and the government we created to serve our needs, not vice versa.

The characters of Hamlet and America are reminiscent of chess game, each move we make will either collectively bring us one step toward victory, or one step closer towards calamity as Polonius, Laertes, Ophelia, and Gertrude were all pawns and victims of life's game of chess. We the People must wake up, arise and remove the tyrannical King Obama and the Democrat Socialist Party from their lofty place of power before we fall prey to the very enemy we sought to separate from, harkening back to the Revolutionary War period (1775-83) when the American colonists valiantly fought, suffered and died for their freedom from the tyrant King George III. If we fail in this sacred charge by allowing the Progressive Revolution to win, then all of America will fall to our foreign enemies like the United Nations, its member States, ISIS and domestically, the Democrat Socialist Party, who are all actively plotting to destroy our Judeo-Christian traditions and institutions, just as the Prince of Norway swooped in like a vulture in the end when the Danish throne was weak through in-fighting, duplicity and treason.

To live free or fail to see... that is the question for America?

*N.B.: This essay is based in part on The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics by Dr. W. John Campbell, pp. 328–335

© Stone Washington

 

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Trachtenberg School at George Washington University. Stone is employed as a Research Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, focusing on economic policy as part of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Previously, he completed a traineeship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also a Research Assistant at the Manhattan Institute, serving as an extension from his time in the Collegiate Associate Program. During this time, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson's Department of Political Science and served as a WAC Practicum Fellow for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication. Stone is also a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Council.

Stone possesses a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Clemson University, a Juris Master from Emory University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clemson University. While studying at Emory Law, Stone was featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. He has completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Some of Stone's articles can be found at EllisWashingtonReport.com, which often provide a critical analysis of prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The College Fix, Real Clear Policy, and City Journal. In addition, Stone is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneZone47 and Instagram. Email him at stonebone20@att.net.

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