Greetings from the Sol System! This message is intended to introduce all life forms to the Galaxy’s most interesting but still wildly misunderstood race: Humanity. To do this, we will use the only surviving (complete) artifact from these people: Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
Now, most of you have heard of Hamlet the play because of Gelpy Nermin’s famous production of Shakespeare’s finest works on Grebulon-5 (staring the impeccable Kervel H’Tan and introducing Lux Vandergraff), but none of us know the human Hamlet, until now! This broadcast will dive into the inner workings of this melancholic hominid and examine him as a representative of the Human race.
It is important to know that when Hamlet is introduced in the second scene of act one, he is performing an ancient Human custom called “lying,” a concept that will seem alien to some of our more advanced neighbors (looking at you Droxians!), but just think of Hamlet as saying the opposite of how he feels. What makes this more interesting and a lot more complicated for our anthropologists to decode is that Hamlet isn’t lying outright: he is being passive-aggressive, or facetious. When the new King, Claudius, calls him his “cousin” and “my son,” and Hamlet responds with “A little more than kin and less than kind” (Norton, pg. 1200), his response is meant to be a jab at Claudius. His new relationship with Claudius and his mother is not kind and it also suggests a comment on the odd family dynamic Claudius has made by marrying his brother’s wife. Hamlet responds with more subtle, passive-aggressive retorts in the next line. The king asks why “clouds still hang” on him and he responds with “Not so much, my lord; I am too much in the sun” (Norton, pg. 1200). Hamlet is comparing Claudius’ favor to sunshine, and the word “sun” is a homophone! A tricky human invention where different words can sound the same: “sun” is a star, while “son” is also a title given to a male child by his parents. This is deceitful writing because he doesn’t want to be in the sunlight that is Claudius’ favor (unlike most humans who lived on the surface of their planet), and he again remarks on their new family arrangement with the homophone.
Once Hamlet is left alone, he breaks down and laments his entire existence. He says, “Oh, that this too, too sallied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into dew” (Norton pg. 1202) meaning he wishes he could melt into nothing or kill himself; “Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon ‘gainst self slaughter” (Norton 1202). For those who are confused, his God (referred to as “Everlasting”) forbade suicide. So, Hamlet is seen as a “quippy” and passive-aggressive when talking to others but he falls apart to his own grieving and sadness when there is no one around. To a novice anthropologist this his evidence suggests that all Humans were like this, but what if another character in the play showed real happiness? Is that possible to find in this depressing play?
While it is true that there is little happiness in this play (aside from the fake happiness Claudius shows) I think there is still a glimmer of it to be found in the character of Ophelia. Ophelia’s fist scene has her brother Laertes doing what we know to be called “mansplaining,” or explaining something easy to understand to someone else (usually not a man). He has a long speech about how Ophelia should not trust Hamlet’s advances in courtship and Ophelia responds with “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep / As watchman to my heart” (Norton pg. 1206). This means she will remember his words, but then she compares him to a preacher who “himself the primrose path of dalliance treads / And recks not his own rede” (Norton pg. 1206). Here she says he won’t follow his own advice and may also fall in love with someone he should not. This retort is interesting in the play because it is clever like Hamlet’s jabs but it comes from a place of love. It is hard to derive emotion from a play’s written dialogue because it is designed for an actor to portray, but not impossible. Reading the exchange between the two characters leaves a smile on most faces who are good and discerning Human speak, meaning that the dialogue has some hint of being a tender moment. If their is happiness in the play, then that must mean Humans were not just sad all the time! So, why is Hamlet depressed?
When we take the entire play and view Hamlet’s trajectory through it, there is a remarkable dip in personal growth the second the play starts. Personal growth, as we understand it today, was very important to the Humans. This can be seen in Laertes going to school to gain knowledge and in Claudius killing his brother to gain power. Humans, evidently, wanted to grow, so why does Hamlet stop going to school, stop treating the court seriously and stop courting Ophelia? He stops doing all of these things because he is depressed after his father’s death. Hamlet is young in the eyes of those around him to the point of being called “youth.” His youth is mentioned throughout the play, most notably by Claudius: “And sith so neighbour’d to [Hamlet’s] youth and havior” (Act 2 scene 2). This means that Hamlet never continues to grow after his father’s death. What does this mean for Humanity?
Who is Hamlet? Who was Humanity? By looking at the only complete surviving artifact available to us we can discern that Humans were a very emotionally complicated and cognitively rich species, despite what some experts argue. The theory with the most weight today is that Humans evolved from a race of monkeys or apes, with some smaller ideas suggesting lizards or a small race of cave dwellers called “Republicans,” but does it really matter how these impressive life forms started? It is obvious to anyone who analyzes Hamlet that Humans loved, hated, scorned, laughed, got depressed and had the capacity to feel these complicated emotions all at once. Humans were also talented enough to create things that could be enjoyed by everyone, even life forms from strange stars.
We should stop thinking of this ancient species as “inept apes” to quote Verdy Werdy, the leading Human Denier of our time. Humans did exist, and this play is proof of their deep understanding of life.
Thank you for reading.
H, Brenda. “400+ Best Alien vs Predator Images.” Pintrest, 2020, www.pinterest.com/brendezzy/alien-vs-predator/.
This message has been approved by the Galactic Senate, Department of Anthropology and Human Studies, Department of Alien Affairs and Department of Alien Education.
Electronically signed by Gerif Haldertren (Department of Anthropology and Human Studies), Elta Stuvvax (Department of Alien Affairs) and Trovun Brut’oix (Department of Alien Education).
Long Live the Alliance.