Thursday, August 27, 2009

To Sleep No More

So I’m having a total blast going over all the Hamlet clips. I noticed something that I wanted to point out in the Kevin Kline version:  Listen to the way he says “to sleep”, the way he extends the word longingly like someone saying “Sleep, there’s something I haven’t had in a long time. I want to sleep.”

Made me think of a Hamlet who may merely be feigning insanity, but could also well be having serious trouble sleeping.  Who knows, maybe much of his disheveled appearance and manner have something to do with that?

I love that.  I don’t know anything about form, or how Shakespeare wanted him to speak that particular passage.  All I know is what I hear as a fellow human being, and at that moment I hear a guy who wishes he could curl up and go to sleep.(*)

Or we could take it the other way and look at some other plays, and try to find common ideas in what Shakespeare’s saying about the dual nature of sleep?  Look at Macbeth’s own take on the terror of what it would mean to “sleep no more”.

(*) Reminds me of the story of Dustin Hoffman and  Laurence Olivier.  Hoffman’s character is supposed to have been up all night or something, so Hoffman has in fact stayed up all night.  When Olivier asks what happened to him, Hoffman explains.  “Oh Dustin,” says Olivier, “Try acting.”  I actually found this link that goes into a great deal of research about whether the story is true.

3 comments:

J.T. Gralka said...

Such a notion makes me feel more appreciation for the character of Hamlet by virtue of the fact that such extreme fatigue would further play havoc on his already unsettled state of mind and shaken disposition. I often wonder about the amount of toll Acts I and II put on Hamlet...

- J.

kj said...

I used to think Orson Welles played his Macbeth as drunk. Now I think he's actually playing him as sleep-deprived. And drunk.

kj

William Hunter said...

Working on my thesis has given me new insight into just how the process of sleep deprivation affects the human mind (it's about 4:15 AM now.) While I don't forsee myself stabbing anyone through an arras, I do know that the logic center of the brain does begin to rest. This has led to some really interesting conclusions that truly don't make sense in the cold light of day. Perhaps if Hamlet had been able to sleep, or ever take a cat-nap, Hamlet could have conceivably ended very differently.
-William