Coronavirus perceived through the filter of Hamlet or Ophelia!

Students studying Shakespeare this semester have been asked to write a response to the global situation as perceived by Hamlet or Ophelia. This has led to some extraordinarily creative and heart filled descriptions of global condition from the perspective of our 2020 university students. Enjoy:

Thank you Alexandra:

To you, with love-Ophelia

The Petal

Write a prose soliloquy in which you are either Hamlet or Ophelia commenting on the world around you in 2020.

The entirety of a women’s life in this contemporary world is at odds; with herself, her lover and her duty. It is as if she presents two bouquets at the altar. The first, a highly constructed and carefully manufactured bouquet of ever-glowing, silvery lined Gardenia’s. There is an assortment of Daisies, that outreach their limbs, fighting over the attention of the bride’s original master. The father, her original master, is pleased with this reminder of his sweet child’s innocence and purity that is held in this bouquet. Beaming at the altar, like the way Daisy’s beam towards the sun, stands his daughter who is the epitome of his hope and investment. 

But there! There, o’ there lies her eager Groom. The clouds veil the penetration of the sun rays as his eyes follow up her laced gown to the second, more daring bouquet. The dripping scarlet hues of the roses fall within the bouquet, like the blood of a sacrificial lamb. The carnations bow their head, promising drunken pleasure to the groom as they display their wine-like colour at the altar. The Bride stands as an object who is ready to obey.

Obey, obey

 If the Bride obeys as I had done to both my masters, her lungs will be ignited by the rush of her last breath. The lungs, the fertilisers for her sweet life are imploded with droplets of anguish. Her heart will pound with the tsunami of obedience towards what her masters seek from her. The women that allow for submissiveness to overflow the desires of their hearts secure a fate for themselves. If you sacrifice your truest self for obedience, your garments will float on the riverbanks and your aspirations will seep into the soil of the earth.

A master, however, in this world is not merely as clearly divided as I experienced in my lifetime. 

The master for you, dear men and women, gleam from the rays of your devices. These rays hypnotise you into a sense of conformity to what Instagram or Facebook begs of you to show. 

The master for you, dear men and women, is the demanding Soldier of your workplace ordering you to do overtime whilst your sweet child sings themselves to sleep with a lullaby. 

The master for you, dear men and women, is each minute decision made that removes you from your truest self.

The stream of opportunity will flow for the one who triumphs over the masters in this world. 

For whoever throws their bouquets of obedience over their head, will celebrate the unity between themselves and their souls at the altar. 

Thank you Mariama!

HAMLET: (sighing)

It’s bushfires and viruses and cunning toilet paper runs. It’s climate change and Trumpism and healthcare systems trumped by capitalism. It’s advertising fear and scrounging for hope. It’s the globe and the floorboards on this stage are wired with so much worry it feels as though we’re about to fall through, a feeling I’m afraid we’ve all heartily acclimated to.

In this month’s craze, we’ve all been struck down with terror of the plague!

We move through global emergencies like we churn through diet fads, reminding ourselves not to eat too much because we need to panic buy the rest tomorrow when, across the sea, others are starving. That’s dramatic irony for ya, eh?

The media sends the hordes into frenzied hysteria; I pity them honestly (I pity myself, too). But would we prefer a climate of oblivion or hyper information? Is there even a difference between the blur of too much and none at all? Perhaps the sea of news articles and broadcasts is some sort of blissful ignorance within itself. Perhaps we like to distract ourselves from our lives with the lives of everyone else – or more precisely, the lives of strangers in jeopardy and the lives lost inevitably.


HAMLET sneezes into his elbow and begins to wash his hands

Well, you learn to switch yourself off…fall asleep walking through these masked and crowded streets, trying to fade from the facts and the fear. To best describe it: you’re in a large pool with the rest of the world’s population and everybody’s drowning–helpless, flailing and floundering, delirious with panic from this perpetual doggy-paddle. But if you stop swimming, stop floating, you sink beneath the surface and find a weightless, purring calm. It’s pleasant; it is eerily familiar, like the womb before the knife to the belly of Banquo’s mother.

Sadly, we must all come back up for air one time or another and, by the time we resurface, the next apocalypse has tagged you and Kim Kardashian in its Facebook status.

HAMLET continues washing his hands, humming the tune ‘Happy Birthday’

Thank you Nina:

To tweet, or not to tweet: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler for my thumbs to be still

The world is already full of outrageous stories

Shall I add more fuel to the fire?

To inform my peers and influence their choices

Of what on earth is happening around me…

It appears as though I am living a terrible nightmare

Except when I awake, I am unable to figure out where my nightmare meets reality

As we face the elements of fire and floods;

Yet no element seems to be as ghastly

As that of the human condition

No; there is a monster far worse than the natural elements

Ripping our world apart, day by day

The human greed we see each day

As we see a villainous plague flood the streets

And gluttony burn towns to the ground

Whilst human nature is threatened,

We choose to fight not forgive

We choose to hoard instead of hug

Steal instead of support

This is not a world I wish to be apart of, if this is hatred is to continue

Where will man ever find the good again?

If I am to tweet about the morsels of joy I am able to find on this earth, am I seen as heartless to the reality around me?

If I am to tweet of the 21st century plague, am I merely adding more anxiety, panic and pandemonium into an already fragile work?

And if I am to do nothing,

To merely lay in my chambers

Am I truly doing enough?

To tweet or not to tweet

All the sinners of this time will be remembered

Ophelia’s thoughts of 2020

Thank you Isabella:

Oh, what a year thus far! Three months in and already it feels like the world has come crumbling down. January, what we thought as the beginning of the new year, a time of change and resolutions, oh but no! Rather a scorching hellfire. Raging bushfires, toxic air, thick blanketing smoke. Our lungs, our precious lungs! Oh, how they suffered. Then, of course, February. The gates of hell remained open, pouring destruction all over our nation. The month of floods, oh how mother nature was so cross with us! Our beloved earth, who cares for us so tenderly, oh how we failed you! But alas, what can we do? What can I do? I am nothing but helpless, a tiny speck, a grain of sand amongst this vast ocean. 

And the disease! Oh, how this coronavirus is so close. For the fear looms over me. Am I next? What can I possibly do to protect myself? It’s too late! Countries in lockdown, entire nations divided over toilet paper, oh how the world has gone absolutely mad! Madness I say! 

Two thousand and twenty (2020), must you have brought forth hysteria to the start of a new decade? Not even a quarter through the year and we are almost undone, hanging by a thread, about to snap. No bandages to patch us up just yet. Oh two thousand and twenty (2020), for I hope you offer us assistance. We are in need, the world has come undone! Ridden with madness, controlled by selfish desire and not a shred of light in the horizon. 

Please, two thousand and twenty (2020), for I ask you to save us. Save us from your reckoning and help us to understand the consequences of our actions. For we are the result of our undoing. But, my woes are yours and yours mine. We can only hope the final three-quarters of the year are a time of rebuilding and saving. Saving us from ourselves. 

Image of Australian Bushfires sourced from:

Image of Australian Floods sourced from:

Image of empty shelves sourced from:

The Ophelia of 2020:

Thank you Skye:

Why has mother nature scorched, destroyed and abandoned our dreams for the new decade? a decade that was most anticipated and one that promised change. Fire, rain and wind have made us tremble with every step. Why must she torture the innocent without a thought and not teach those who remain selfish how to look after our world? And yet, my mind is torn, I cannot fully blame her for the destruction we have seen as we are our own enemies and are the causes of our own misfortune. The physical landscape shook all around us and yet human kind agitates us more than we can admit. Nature heals and re builds itself into the most mesmerizing landscapes ever seen. If only we could do the same! More and more I am disappointed with the direction our world is taking, the disregard of basic human rights for those less fortunate, the toxic politics and fanatic addiction to money that fills our news feeds. One cannot escape the screens that control our minds, if we would only look up and appreciate the natural beauty of our world. Trees once blackened have already begun to sprout colours of green and yellow, water nourished the earth when it needed it most. From this, hope is born and we should aim to grow as a society and show compassion and strength in times of hardship. Amongst this chaos I have never felt so grateful for the things I am able to achieve and that my eyes have been so lucky to admire. Where around the world suffering, poverty and abuse encapsulate the lives of many- the selfish need to slow down and work with each other. Stop! I say! and take a look.


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