Most of the seniors are reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet currently and hating it. I find this greatly distressing. Not because I hold 2 degrees in English and am expected to love Shakespeare, but simply because I love the character of Hamlet.
The play is fantastic and full of lines I quote frequently. But dysfunctional, brainiac, sad Hamlet keeps me coming back to the story. I can’t abandon a character reflecting the inner-workings of my brain. (which should probably terrify me at least a little more than not at all)
So in order to help the seniors understand this insane, anyperson, I decided to show the new BBC/Royal Shakespeare Company production. (added bonus: watch David Tennant preform as another of my favorites) And for the most part, the students seemed to end up with a better understanding of the play and the character, which equals a win for me.
But watching David Tennant talk about time as Hamlet kept throwing me out of time. Because every time one of the Shakespeare lines about time and knowledge or understanding came up, I stopped hearing Hamlet speak and heard the Doctor instead.
At which point I realized how much my understanding of time and knowledge is shaped by both Doctor Who and Shakespeare.
Because they’re both phenomenal.
And I don’t mean factual understanding, because that would be ridiculous. But my feelings about time and knowledge are best summed up by quotes from both. “Time is wibbly-wobbly” “There is more in heaven and on Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy” “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space…were it not that I have bad dreams” “It could be that the universe has a different definition of life” “Look at that” “And we never stopped running” “Tell the story”
Because both make an argument for thinking through actions and keeping the long view of time in perspective. Each action affects the decisions and outcomes of not 1 life but all the lives that surround the instigator. This realization makes Hamlet’s indecision for 4 1/2 acts make more sense because he can see that whatever he decides will result in pain in the lives that surround him. And the Doctor can see the entirety of time always, so he sees how actions on 1 planet in 1 time impact other planets, which makes him more hesitant to act.
Following both characters, I find that my understanding of what makes up a normal world and time-line expands to encompass that which appears on the far edges of imagination. And while I hope for the practically imaginary to become reality, I choose to be content in the moment. Because the idea of Hamlet and the Doctor as friends in my real life makes me smile, I would never want to be either. So I embrace the insane instability of everything I know and take the next step.