If you recognize that there is something uniquely valuable about Shakespeare, and particularly Hamlet, but your attempts to read the play whole have faltered over its difficulties, this tour will give you an abridged version that explains the archaic terms and obscure references as you go. You get the best, and we explain the rest.
I've written eight other tours of Shakespeare plays that play it straight, but of courses in honor of our dishonorable 2020 election, this particular tour does double duty be recasting the play as the election. I think the result is a lot of fun; a hoot, in fact, and very cathartic, as it certainly was for me.
Hamlet is an unnaturally good fit for the 2020 election. After all, you have in Claudius a usurping king who takes the place but cannot fill the shoes of a conquering hero. Since Joe Biden in his senility seems to be disappearing before our very eyes, I cast as Claudius not just Biden, but more broadly the cabal that installed him in office. And we know who the grand, just, and wise usurped King Hamlet is, of course, not only from his achievements in office, but from how he continues to haunt so many after his political demise. I even gave him orange hair.
I cast Kamala Harris as Queen Gertrude, Prince Hamlet’s mother and, after marrying his murdering uncle Claudius, also his aunt. I did this not only because Kamala is Vice President, but because of the “dexterous” (Hamlet’s word for her) way she rose to national prominence. Gertrude, after all, is a sexual Machiavel who is drawn to the corridors of power. And since by that logic any woman who seeks power and influence beyond her own earned position can qualify as a Gertrude, I made Jill Biden ( and a few others) Kamala’s understudies.
And the spying! If ever there were a time built to profit from reflection on the great spymaster Polonius, it is ours. Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Jeff Bezos, and Sundar Pichai (the Google CEO) are men whose powers of surveillance Polonius would have wept to possess. Imagine being paid by the people you are spying on to spy on them. Well, we don’t need to imagine that – we are living it.
And that brings us to, as everything in time brings us to, Prince Hamlet. He is All of Us. His conundrum, after all, is ours; how to avenge the theft of a nation’s entire government in a way that reveals the illegitimacy of the usurping regime and restores the nation to legitimate rule. How indeed. Yes, I’m not sure either. But we must find a way.
As for the fair Ophelia, at first, I cast her as America, or, you know, America as her. But Ophelia dies, and while America’s republic is arguably now in abeyance, it is not quite dead. So I made her America’s Innocence. Because that certainly is now dead.
There are a few other bit players, who (spoiler alert) all die; Ophelia’s brother Laertes, and two childhood friends of Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Laertes starts out as a man of some virtue, but he gets co-opted by an evil regime. We have plenty of examples of that, so I cast as Laertes Governors Asa Hutchinson and Kristi Noem, and a few other virtuous folks who also became co-opted along the way (looking at you, Jonah Goldberg).
As for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, they were never really virtuous to begin with, and they did all they could to falsely persuade Hamlet that they were on his side. So they are RINOs, like Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Mitt Romney…there have been far too many to choose from.
This book should also give any reader a rich experience of the bard, along with a kind of hallucinatory sense of how apt are the play’s insights into our current predicament. Hamlet is a famously long play, but this abridged version moves swiftly, though we still present every scene, uncover some hidden gems, and, when you need to take a breath, we pause for some historical and scholarly reflection.
You know all about 2020, but I’m confident you’ve never seen it like this. Hamlet's 2020 Vision is available as a Kindle ebook for $5.00 or a paperback for $10.00 at this link.