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Hamlet, Retold

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Hamlet is arguably William Shakespeare's greatest play. But the rich complexity of the 400-year-old text can bemuse a modern reader, undermining the intricacies of the characters and the twists of plot. 

Hamlet, Retold is a contemporary, line-by-line, iambic-pentameter rewrite of the greatest tragedy of all time, intended to bring life to the original text through a direct, easily understood modern interpretation. 

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ACT 3, Scene 1 - Hamlet's soliloquy

Original text        

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
 

      Retold

To live, or not live: I have to wonder. 
Would I find greater honour if I suffered
The stinging pain wrought by my wretched luck
Instead of fighting back against my troubles, 
Which, doing so, would kill me? Death. I’d sleep
No longer. Being dead will be the end
Of all the heartache and the seismic shocks
That life inflicts. Oh, what a state of being
Wholeheartedly to hope for! Endless sleep!
But sleeping, I might dream, and there’s the catch:
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come
When we have left this turmoil of existence?
It’s worth a thought, for sure. That is the issue
That makes us tolerate our dismal lives,
Because who would endure this dismal life,
Abuse from those in power, swaggering insults,
The pain of love rebuked, the law’s delay,
Officials’ gall or all the condescension
That decent folk endure from those less worthy,
When one could turn this bullshit into silence
All by a dagger’s stab? Who’d bear such burdens,
To grunt and sweat their weary way through life,
Unless it was in fear of worse in death, 
An undiscovered country from whose border
No traveller returns, and makes us ponder,
Concluding that we’d rather bear the pain
We know of than of that that we do not? 
And so, awareness turns us into cowards;
And thus our natural drive to solve a problem
Recedes and fades through over-contemplation,
And those endeavours, once thought so important,
Lose depth and influence as time ebbs by,
Resulting in inaction. Quieten up! 
My dear Ophelia! Love, in your prayers
Remember all my sins.