THE MICROWAVE SHAKESPEARE
A project commissioned by Ransom Publishing.
The Microwave Shakespeare is a series of simplified, illustrated books which aim to help kids who struggle with reading to understand the literature masterpieces of William Shakespeare.
It’s night, and Bernardo stands guard outside Elsinore Castle. He is joined by Marcellus, an officer (or sentry), and Horatio, who was a good friend of the now-dead King Hamlet, King of Denmark.
Horatio has heard people talking about a ghost walking the castle at night, and now he has come to see for himself.
As they stand there, the ghost of the dead King Hamlet comes out of the freezing fog and rain, towards the three men.
They stand there, paralysed with fear.
‘I am thy father’s spirit, doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
and for the day confined to fast in fires, till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
are burnt and purged away.’
Hamlet tells Ophelia, ‘I did love you once,’ but then he tells her, ‘You should not have believed me ... I loved you not.’
No matter how hard we all try to be good, Hamlet continues, our sins come out in the end. We are all sinners.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet with Hamlet, to try to find out why he is so sad, but he just winds them up and laughs at them. Hamlet knows that they are spying for Claudius – and he manages to get them to admit it.
Just as Claudius kneels to pray, Hamlet enters and sees him there, on his knees. Now! Now he could do it! He could kill Claudius right now.
Hamlet draws his sword, then stops and thinks again. If he kills Claudius while he is praying, when his soul is purged, wouldn’t Claudius go straight to Heaven?
Hamlet knows he does not have long to live. He stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and, as Claudius dies, Hamlet forces him to drink the poisoned wine. At last, he has kept his promise!
Now Laertes dies, saying
‘Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet. Mine and my father’s death come not upon thee.’
’Nor thine on me.’
Hamlet too is dying. He takes another sip of the poisoned wine, then names Young Fortinbras as the next king of Denmark. Then Hamlet dies.
Horatio is heartbroken.
‘Good night sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!’
One of the gravediggers shows Hamlet the skull of Yorick, the court jester, a man who, when Hamlet was a little boy, used to have the whole court roaring with laughter with his juggling and acrobatics. Hamlet even remembers riding on the man’s back.
‘Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.’
But then, this is how everyone ends up, even great soldiers like Caesar and Alexander the Great.