Scathing Reviews of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

My first introduction to Hamlet by William Shakespeare was, like millions of other kids, from that redoubtable source of literary insight, Gilligan’s Island.
No, I’m serious… There was an episode guest starring Phil Silvers as a Hollywood Producer who came to the Island to get away from it all. The castaways put on a musical version of Hamlet to “sell” Silvers on the concept, and to get him to get everyone rescued as soon as possible. Naturally, he stole the idea and left the castaways on the island. Lucky for all of us, the music for the Hamlet Musical has been enshrined on the web.

With an introduction like that, let’s face it, the REAL Hamlet can only be a letdown. These critical reviews of Hamlet find the Dane not quite so great:

I don’t know what Willy Shakespeare was thinking when he wrote this one play tragedy, but I thought this sure was boring! Hamlet does too much talking and not enough stuff. He needs to shape up and show them who’s boss.

…and:

This has to be one of the worst plays ever written, Shakespeare or no Shakespeare. While the Bard was the master of English drama, he really slipped up here. The plot makes no sense, the characters motivations are contrived, and the jokes fall flat.

…and:

All and all this play is atrocious. Though it is acclaimed as the greatest work of drama ever, it is hardly that. People who say such things, have absolutely no credibility. Hamlet’s only purpose is to confuse the reader. Any intelligent person can see through his character and realize that he is little more than a feeble mind with a large vocabulary.

…and:

In my opinion all of Shakespeare’s writings are long winded, drawn out words with no possibility of ever coming close to being remotly interesting. Hamlet was actually one of the most terribly boring, predictable, useless book ever written. The plot had no vital juices.

…and:

Simply boring, with lifelessly dull characters that can never seem to figure out what they want. It follows the standard Shakespearean tragedy plotline (Guy has stuff happen to him that’s either really good or really bad, two little subplots, and then everybody dies)

…and this reviewer, who percieveth a conspiracy, methinks:

Willy is acclaimed as the best writer of all time, but this is only because of British Media hyping the man, after 400 years.

One Response

  1. Thanks so much for the link to the hilarious Gilligan’s Island episode. (Silvers and Hamlet — what an inspired match!)

    A while back I found out that Mitch Albom’s “For One More Day” is written at a third-grade reading level (about 8 years old) by using the readability statistics that are part of the spell-checker on Microsoft Word. I compared his reading level with that of other living and dead authors (including Boswell, Jane Austen, Stephen King and Danielle Steel). You might enjoy the post, “Does Mitch Albom Think He’s Jesus?” (Nov. 16, 2006) http://www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/11/16/, the all-time most popular on my site.

    I’ve since repeated this technique to find, for example, the reading levels of the most recent Man Booker Prize finalists and the books of the U.S. Presidents. Coincidentally, tomorrow One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the shortlist for its annual Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books published in the U.S. (open to authors from other countries whose bad writing is world-class).

    Thanks again for the link to to the Gilligan’s Island episode.
    Jan Harayda
    Editor-in-Chief
    One-Minute Book Reviews

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