Hamlet: Danish vs English

A Danish zoo recently dissected a lion in front of hundreds of people including children and their parents. According to one viewer, the event was, “Fun, but also a bit disgusting” (The Guardian).

Apparently, public dissections are common in Denmark.

“Life isn’t the Disney Channel. Get over it,” wrote Mikael Soenderskov, a Dane defending the dissection.

His sentiment is one that may be expressed in the book The Danish Way of Parenting by Iben Sandahl and Jessica Alexander. Sandahl and Alexander ask the reader to remove their “cultural glasses” for a moment and try on a “Danish way” of seeing things, real and without “over-protection”.

That made me think of Hamlet the Dane and how he “saw things”- namely the death of his father, Hamlet, Sr.
When his mother, Gertrude expresses a very Danish way of looking at the loss (I;ii):

Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

Hamlet responds very Danish-ly, “Ay, madam, it is common.
When Gertrude presses to know why Hamlet is still so sad by asking “If it be,/Why seems it so particular with thee?”

That’s when Hamlet reflects into his Shakespearean consciousness -and the more English sensibilities-Hamlet

“Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not ‘seems.'”

While Hamlet hardly represents the Disney Channel, I imagine he could have mourned over the loss of young lion….without pretense…without seeming. He could be very un-Danish.


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