To be or not to be: that is the question.

Alexa Sergio


“To be or not to be: that is the question.” One of the most famous lines of Shakespeare that we all know even if we have never read the play. What people who haven’t read the play don’t know is the deep thought behind this line. This is Hamlet contemplating to himself whether or not to commit suicide. This happens to be my favorite part of Hamlet.

He goes on by saying, “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.” Being royalty, it was all about nobility and respect. This is Hamlet struggling whether to live and to suffer is more noble then to die and wash clean of dreadful thoughts and misfortune. Hamlet is going insane and this particular monologue shows that. He says, “Who would fardels dear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to ohers that we know not of?” This is simply saying that most do not choose death rather than the hardships of life because most rather take the hardships they know of than die and go to a place with hardships we do not know of. People don’t know what is waiting for us after death and they are afraid to find out, something that Hamlet himself is struggling with.

I love this part of hamlet because it depicts questions that ourselves, in this time period, have struggled with. It shows the play’s ability to relate to audiences of all types and times.

Hamlet complex characteristics


The story begins when Hamlet ,Prince of Denmark, who returns from university in Wittenberg, Germany and finds his father dead.  Hamlet has extremely philosophical and extraordinary personality. At first when he discovers his father death he is shocked, he could not go over it. As you go along with reading of this poem, you can discover many sides of main character. On one side he is angry, mad, irate, furious. Those all traits we see, when he discovers that his uncle Claudius killed his own father and know he seats on throne and married to his mom. He is putting himself down. As he starts think about the situation that happened with his mom his emotions go wild. He feels guilty that he, the one who knows truth, is allowing his own mother to be married to his father killer and that killer is his own uncle!  After this unbelievable news  he becomes depressed, dispirit, desperate and suicidal. He really wants to tell his mother a truth, but he is afraid not only telling her horrible truth, he is also scares to hurt her that much. His own silence is killing him because he does now know what to do. Hamlet has surprising and paradoxical personality and never behaves to expectation of other characters. Hamlet is in process learning about his own complicated personality . He is also helps reader to understand other characters personality, he is more successful in discovering others personality better than his own. Shakespeare  by creating those complex personalities made a reader so interested about what is going to happen next.


Faith in humanity restored.

Hamlet encounters the ghost that claims to be his father’s spirit. The ghost states that he was murdered and the villain is the person who now wears his crown, Claudius. He advises Hamlet to seek revenge for him. Although the ghost said he is the father of Hamlet, we do not know for certain if the ghost is what it appears to be or whether it is something else. After the encounter with the ghost, Hamlet begins to question the reality of things around him and becomes doubtful of his very own perceptions. This triggered the main plot of the play that leads Hamlet to the idea of madness and vengeance.


“Hamlet: Whiter wilt thou lead me? Speak; i’ll go no further.

Ghost: Mark Me.” Page 673

Shortly after Polonius had fallen to Hamlet, Hamlet was ordered by Claudius to go New England where he was suppose to be put to death like a criminal. Yet Hamlet escapes death and heads back to Denmark, where he sees two men digging up a grave for Ophelias lifeless body. From that point its easy to say that Hamlet coming from hatred, revenge, madness character it made him get in touch with humanity where it triggered a little sympathy because when he killed Polonius he did not feel guilty or any sympathy. Hamlet seems peaceful, though also quite sad. He says that he feels ill in his heart, but  settled to the idea of death and no longer bothered by fear of the supernatural. Even in beginning of the duel with Laertes, Hamlet ask for forgiveness for killing his father Polonius. When Hamlet died in the end of the story he was buried as a solider. The death is neither heroic nor shameful. Hamlet  achieves his father’s vengeance, but only after being spurred to it by the most extreme circumstances: watching his mother die and knowing that he too, will die in moments. So from the encounter with the “ghost” to end Hamlet changes from a person who lost sense of human feelings filling it with hate and madness to remorseful and sympathetic, will you consider Hamlet a pyscho or an hero?



Sane or not to be Sane (To be or not to be)

Sam Rabinovitz as Hamlet


I choice this title because Hamlet tells Horatio and Marcellus to keep the image of his father’s ghost a secret and that he was going to play a madman. Even though he playing a madman he can in fact start to actually become one. The first person he goes to after seeing his father’s ghost is Ophelia. He beings his madness by expressing distraught and pain but he doesn’t speak a word to her. We know this through Ophelia description from her conversation with her father. This can be a part of his plan to play insanity but in part some real distress. She has recently cut all ties with him, the loss of his father, then to come in contact with his father’s spirit, and finds out that his uncle killed him. To top it off his mother’s marriage to his uncle. Any normal human can claim actual insanity.

But as the play continues on, the question comes is he really acting or is the news of his father’s death and the marriage of his mother, unbearable to the point of insanity. Hamlet begins to question if he actual saw his father ghost and what he said had any truth to it. There were many times he could have avenge his father’s death, but the question kept lingering.  He sets up a play to reenact his father’s murder and his mother’s marriage and his secret plan to avenge his father’s death. This he said will be the only way to know for sure if the ghost is in fact the true image of his father or a demon ghost. This show’s that he is contemplating his own sanity and this will be the only way to clear all questions.

“There is a play tonight before the king.

One scene of it comes near the circumstance

Which I have told thee of my father’s death.

I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,

Even with the very comment of thy soul

Observe mine uncle. If his occulted guilt

Do not itself unkennel in one speech,

It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen,

And my imaginations are as foul”

As the death of his father is being reenacted he sees his uncle’s reaction to the play that gives him a clear idea that the ghost was his father’s spirit. His approach to being a mad man completely changes he become more sarcastic and a jokester. We see that it not a matter of him actually becoming mad but actual playing the madman. At the beginning there was a lot of question to him acting or actually becoming mad, but now everything is becoming more clear not only thru the play but thru his uncle own testimony when speaking to himself. But who’s to say that just because it becoming more clearer that he won’t still become actually mad having to except this truth. Well I guess I will only find out once I’m done reading.

Somebody’s watching

Since the beginning of act one Hamlets tone is bitter, he knows something went wrong. The death of his father was only but a month ago and yet his mom has  now engaged in sacred matrimony with his uncle.But Hamlet must be  a good son and adhere to his moms wishes and stay quiet and take his part in the kingdom. His weird premonitions that he has felt in his gut since the tragic occurrence of his dads demise were only more awakened as his friend Horatio tells him about his eventful evening on which he saw the former king  Hamlets dad as a ghost. So they set to meet at midnight to see if these visions they see are real and to confirm these weird feelings that hamlets has been having. After a sad and heart throbbing conversation Hamlet can now weep for cause and plan his vengeance for his dad the former king was murdered and the blood that slowly poured out of his Dads  dead corpse shall be avenged.


Strange Encounters With The Doubtful “Ghost”

The young Hamlet together with the watchmen, Horatio and Marcellus seem to be perturbed at the few apparitions of  the deceased King Hamlet’s ghost. These queer encounters raise  questions about the nature of the ghost: is it an evil spirit, a messenger of a bad omen, or Hamlet’s paternal spirit? Interpreting the role of the phantom, these characters oscillate between  belief and disbelief. For example, Horatio sees the specter as a messenger of an imminent war between Norway and Denmark, relating this omen to those that spread fear among the “Roman streets” prior to Caesar’s death. First, this omen confuses Horatio, his ” mind’s eye”; this methaphor emphasizes the transcendent power of the human mind to see a silent world. The ghost doesn’t talk to him, letting his mind to immerse in wonder and fear. The ghost of a noble person is royal too, so it expects obedience from his inferiors in rank, like Horatio here. Horatio dares to demand the ghost to speak: “Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak (Act 1, 51). The phantom doesn’t talk to him, but it uses a more powerful communication tool to underscore the scope of its presence: the crow of a cock. This is an awakening, sunny signal to the enlightening of his mind to do something to restore grace and virtue in Denmark.

The dialogue between Hamlet and his father’s ghost has a special nuance here because for the first time “words” equalize the power of “mind”. Here, words are arrows of excruciated pain shot to release Hamlet and the ghost’s internalized suffering. Their pain erodes the surface of their bodies: Hamlet wishes that his “flesh would melt”, while the ghost’s skin is “lazar-like”, with “loathsome crust”, outlining the burning pain caused by the sin of incest. In essence, there is a very special father-son bond between them, especially when Hamlet calls the phantom an “old mole”. This mocking remark implies that they know each others’ deepest secrets: their inner anguish. Just like a mole, Hamlet’s ghost is digging under ground where it finds its son’s grief. Prince Hamlet who sees his dead father in his “mind’s eye”, doubtfully, identifies himself with his spirit: “Rest, rest, perturbed spirit (Act 1, 181).

As seen in this image, the ghost makes eye contact with Hamlet. There is a prominent black and white contrast between these two: the phantom appears in white while Hamlet wears black clothes, showing that he is still in mourning for his father.


To Be or Not To Be

The most reputed words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet is probably “To be or not to be, that is the question” when Hamlet was pretending to be mad and talking to himself while Ophelia and other hidden observers were present (697). At that time he already knew it was the current Denmark King, his uncle who had killed his father. He was struggling whether he should take revenge or not. Deep in his heart, he thought that all human are beautiful, graceful, rational and kind-hearted as what he was educated. Therefore, his mother’s remarriage for wealth and rank while his uncle killed his father for power and interest astonished him and made him felt disappointed towards mankind. To remain “nobler in mind”, he had to decide whether he should forgive and continue to suffer from “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, or he should take revenge and get through all this “sea of troubles”.

Through his soliloquy (697-698), he pondered over a man’s harsh life from receiving “the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes”. He started to realize that everyone have to “bear the whips and scorns of time” and nobody can simply just end all this “with a bare bodkin”. He also figured out that it was the fear of the unknown, miserable nation of death who blocked a man’s path to strive for success. As he concluded that if “the native hue of resolution is sickled o’er with the pale cast of thought and enterprises of great pitch and moment “, such person would have “their current turn awry and lose the name of action”. By saying this to himself as well as to Ophelia, he made his decision to take revenge and he warned Ophelia to keep away from him.

To be or not to be. William Shakespeare

(Here is a nice photo for restoring the grand, classic scene of Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be”. Instead of acting this inside a castle room as portrayed, this photo aimed at showing Denmark’s famous Kronborg Castle which the story of Hamlet was imagined to be happened.)

This speech presented by Hamlet seemed to be unconscious to Ophelia, the King and Polonius who were inside the puzzles, but it was glorious with a board and rich connotation of thoughts of life to the readers who know the whole story. It may took a reader at least several times to understand thoroughly from all these beautifully and wonderfully engraved words, but the enrichment of our spirits through reading worth the time. Although it was a tragedy for Hamlet to go against the calm wave settled for him by his environment, he had foreseen the failure and death before and he still made his decision. He never felt regretful but in fact he was proud of himself. A tragedy ending was not the main theme Shakespeare wished to tell the world, but rather to encourage people not to let too much negative thinking hindered the path to our dreams. “To be, or not to be”, let us all think about it now!

“Naamu ” “Naamu ” “Naamu ”


Bala ( natiive xylophoe)
Bala ( natiive xylophoe)
Kora ( twenty one string calabash harp )
Kora ( twenty one string calabash harp )
Small lute ( nkoni)
Small lute ( nkoni)







The perfomance of Sunjata would often be accompanied by Musical instruments.  ( image above ) .


A deformed woman, named Sogolon, was considered as a woman with magical powers. She was married to King Makhang. She gave birth to a boy who she called Sunjata. He was born with the same problems as his mother, he couldn’t walk since birth. He spent most of his days sitting until he hit puberty. One day he got so angry by a conversation he heard about an insult to his mom that he decided to walk. He demonstrated a lot of strength even though he has a disability. He has courage, humility and filial piety. After he learned how to walk, God blessed him by giving him feet. His mother also had four more sons after Sunjata learned to walk. Sunjata was admired and supported by many people. He later became a great king, surrounding himself with strong warriors and wise counsels. As you go through the story, we can see a very elaborate history from the beginning starting from the ancestors of Sunjata until the part of his transformation from child to man. The repetition of the word “Naamu” which means “yes” or “we hear you” made me realize that while the narrator is telling the story, the people who are listening to this are confirming that they are paying attention and believing what the person is telling about.


“Sultanate” The Rise of Islamic Empire

Muslim Arab rulers took advantage of weak Western powers and Invaded Europe and Persia wherein they ruled Spain for 800 years. The Arab rulers were seeking to spread the influence of Islam initially but the conquest of Spain opened the gateways for  Arab rulers for rest of the world whereas the west Africa became the prominent Muslim colony around the 10th century. Therefore the Spain served as main port for trade which Arab rulers used to acces to Africa, China, south Asia including India and people were getting converted to Islam but, the conversion wasn’t being forced or main motive of Invasion. The continuous spreading of Islamic Empire led towards the appearance of Ottoman Empire in Turkey and some European countries and in Persia, Syria and Saudi Arabia  as a strong and powerful socio economic region. Moreover, along with armies and traders the art was also getting exchange between Arabs and foreigners and Mughals from Turkey introduced Ottoman Empire arts and culture in India. The Mughal dynasty ruled India for 1000 years which influenced the Hindu majority of India to be converted into Islam. The Mughals introduced Turkish architecture where they used colorful paintings on the ceilings of buildings like palaces and castles wherein Taj Mahal is the best example. The Mughals also introduced drama and novels through moderate literature in Indian culture and their art loving nature flourished the theatre and art of paintings. In India the Mughals brought modern technology, scientific researchers from Spian and European warfare which directed India to get connected with Western World through trade. 
The spread of Islam In West Africa during eighth century reasoned many accounts like some historian say it was due to spread the spiritual message in other words preaching of Islam, economic motivations same as in case of India, Influence of Arabic literacy in facilitating state building like they introduced Arabic in India as well and it was matter of prestige as well. Trade between West Africa and the Mediterranean predated Islam, however, North African Muslims intensified the Trans-Saharan trade. North African traders were major actors in introducing Islam into West Africa. Several major trade routes connected Africa below the Sahara with the Mediterranean Middle East, such as Sijilmasa to Awdaghust and Ghadames to Gao. The Sahel, the ecological transition zone between the Sahara desert and forest zone, which spans the African continent, was an intense point of contact between North Africa and communities south of the Sahara. In West Africa, the three great medieval empires of Ghana, Mali, and the Songhay developed in Sahel (source: Stanford study of foreign culture).

An outspoken wowan

From the Pillow Book, Sei Shonagon seemed like she was not living in her era. She was way advanced than most of the rest of the women at that time. She touched problems that people specially women wanted to hide such as social problems. She pointed out beautiful things for example Japanese nature but people did not recognize them. As an illustration in the book:”In  summer, the night-moonlit nights, of course, but also the dark of the moon, its beautiful when fireflies are dancing everywhere in a mazy flight”. In these words, we can notice that women are more aware of our surroundings than man. Moreover, She was able to identify the beauty of each four seasons: spring,summer, autumn, and winter. She described many actions of people in the Japanese culture that were either praised or condemned. In the “Things that cant be compared”, she wanted to show us everything mostly on earth has an opposite. As a matter of fact, God creates day and night, and ski and earth so forth. Throughout the stories we can reveal themes such as beauty and perfection. She has opinions about everything in her surroundings as I stated earlier. To conclude,  Shei Shonagon has a little patience for ugly people and ugly things. I think all of that do not fit in her world.