So I had this weird Shakespeare dream this weekend. This will probably make no sense :). Apparently I had published some claim about particular plot device of Shakespeare's, claiming that Julius Caesar was the first time that he had used it. However, an old college friend and I had just discovered that it was actually used in Hamlet as well, and we were trying to figure out how to reconcile the new discovery with our published conclusions. What's interesting, though, is that the plot device as best I could remember it had to do with one character seeking out another character's killer (a whodunnit story, in other words), only to have it unveiled that he was the killer all along. In the case of Hamlet, we were looking for the killer of Polonius. But everybody knows that Hamlet killed Polonius, so it's not really a mystery. I have no idea how Julius Caesar played into it, since the dream seemed mostly to be about analyzing Hamlet. Like I said, it basically makes no sense from the start because Shakespeare didn't write detective stories.
Once I woke up and this all dawned on me, I started wondering what Hamlet would have been like if it really was a mystery. Perhaps Hamlet sees Polonius emerging from Gertrude's bedroom. Hamlet's already pretty messed up in the head about what's been going on in his mom's bed, so he redirects some of his rage at Polonius (instead of Claudius) and ends up killing the old man in secret. Now the play can go on quite differently. Hamlet never has to be sent to England. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Aren't Dead. Ophelia doesn't necessarily go crazy and kill herself. Sure, her dad's dead, but it's not like her boyfriend is the one who did it (as far as she knows, at least). Meanwhile Laertes probably returns to avenge his father, but with no one to challenge he's at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. Perhaps Hamlet is smart enough to twist events so that everybody believes Laertes killed Polonius? Then poor Ophelia probably would kill herself after all. The girl's a bit fragile.
Anyway, now I'm just babbling, and I've got work to do. I wanted to document that dream, since it's not often I dream about Shakespeare.