Rattlespointystick on Shakespeare


Learn the real story behind Shakespeare's Hamlet.

William Shakespeare is among the world’s best known human playwrights.  Heck, even a few of your better than average ducks have heard of him.  Having lived so long ago (i.e. 1564 to 1616), some of the “English” used in his plays often sounds bizarre or even foreign to most of us today.  However, it also contains many words still commonly in use.


In fact, as explained by Amanda Mabillard in “Words Shakespeare Invented” at Shakespeare-Online.com 20 Aug. 2000, and I quote:


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The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original.


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Now for those of you familiar with our previous “Famous Ducks Of History” posts, you may understand our keen sense of gratitude as we leap into the air and shout, “Go Willy!”  After all, what’s not to love about a guy who makes it up as he goes along? Sound familiar?


The Recently Departed


We now turn to a famous duck, the recently departed, de-feathered, de-greased and deceased, Professor Bill Rattlespointystick of Fluffy Down University.  Just prior to his demise in a bizarre midair collision with an incoming homing pigeon, the professor gave us some valuable insight on Shakespeare by interpreting the real meaning behind his famous soliloquy from the 3rd act of “Hamlet”—without doubt, one of the most oft-quoted dramatic passages in literary history.



What’s this?  You dare to scoff at the professor’s expertise on the subject?   Do I need to point out that Dr. Rattlespointystick was a professor of Post-Modernismiculous Pre-Pubescent Ergo-Economical Ancient Carbon-Dating Rollyscroll Bookmongering—the most popular field of study at Fluffy Down U.  The simple fact is that the professor’s qualifications were impeachable…check that…impeccable.  As a curious aside, Professor Rattlespointystick was known among his students for wearing historically accurate garb appropriate to the period of the historical figures he lectured on.  Thus, we see him as pictured below—a truly remarkable resemblance to old Shakespeare, wouldn’t you agree?


Rattlespointystick and Shakespeare look remarkably similar.

Professor Rattlespointstick was one of the true experts on Hamlet.


A Warning

Our readers will no doubt be shocked to learn that the things they are about to learn, are not really things they ought to learn, unless they’re prepared to unlearn them post haste.  Otherwise, they may just go around spouting off on things that have little meaning to minds that can’t possibly comprehend the humor in them, unless, of course, those same minds discover said humor on their own.  Indeed, those things so spouted might easily be lost in translation, and thus, it might be better if they stay unmentioned throughout time, rather than be retold like some joke with a poorly timed punchline.  This is why it’s so much better to tell your friends to read it here first, rather than get it second-hand.  Believe me, they’ll thank you. Look, I’m only trying to save you a bit of embarrassment.  If you start blabbing on about this to your Aunt Tilly, and she gives  you that funny look with pouty lips and a raised eyebrow, don’t come back and complain I didn’t warn you.


Without Further Ado


Drum roll please…here, then, is the amazing insight Professor Rattlespointystick provided for us.  We present each line of Shakespeare’s soliloquy as written for the character Hamlet, which is immediately followed by an interpretive comment from Professor Rattlespointystick.


Note:  “Hamlet’s” words are presented in dark bold blue type and Rattlespointystick’s interpretation is in smaller-case italics.


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

To be or not to be? Not much of a choice if you’re asking me.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

How can it possibly be noble to suffer from indigestion?

The Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune;

I’ve got a clause in my will: Shoot me with an arrow and you’ll never get my fortune.

Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles,

I never use my armes in the sea, I use my feetes.  I’m a duck.

And by opposing end them: To die, to sleep

What’s with all this talk about dying?  The guy needs some Xanax.

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

Yada, yada, yada…

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

Jeez this guy’s windy.  Cut to the chase, already.

That flesh is heir to? ’tis a consummation

I don’t have hair, I have feathers, and the last thing I want anyone thinking about is consuming raw flesh.  Ew, that gives me duckbumps just thinking about it.

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep

How’d we go from death to sleep?  Is he saying he’s experiencing a cardiac arrest?  Should I call the paramedics? Hello? Hamlet?  Hello?

To sleep, perchance to dream; Aye, there’s the rub,

Now, we’re talking…a nice massage, a couple babes.  Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,

Dreams?  What dreams?  No one’s getting any sleep the way he’s yakking on and on like that.

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Whenever he could, Shakespeare snuck away to the circus to perform an act as a snake handler with an uncooperative boa.  Thus, it’s hardly surprising he gave Hamlet a similar hobby—something he refers to in this line.  Shakespeare’s audiences loved the part of his act when the snake would wrap itself around his neck and squeeze until his face was as red as an overripe tomato.  Years after his pet boa passed away, Shakespeare coined the phrase “give me a good squeeze”, an obvious reference to the fond memories of his circus days.

Must give us pause. There’s the respect

You mammals are all the same: You think you’re so cool just cause you’ve got paws.  Well, we can fly, buddy!  And we don’t need airplanes, either!

That makes calamity of so long life:

Good grief.  The clams in the city don’t live any longer than the clams in the county.  Where is he getting his facts?

For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,

I would.  I just picked up two dozen at Bear’s Bakery.  Bear’s butter-whipped scones are the best!

The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,

Holy guacamole! I just hope he’s not so proud he wants to show off his contumely.  They’ll be none of that here!

The pangs of disprized love, the Lawes delay.

Tough love from Puerto Rican gangs (often shortened to p-r-angs or p-angs in Shakespeare’s day) was, “de price ju gots to pay if ju delay jour payments.”  This, of course, is a clear reference to Hamlet’s loan sharking operations.

The insolence of Office, and the Spurns

This puts Hamlet (and thus Shakespeare) right up there with Nostradamus.   Imagine predicting something like Britney Spears guest starring on The Office way back in 1600.  He was so close.  Unbelievable!

That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,

Yes, I know exactly what he means here.  I always bite down at the wrong time at the dentist and they have to redo the x-ray.

When he himself might his quietus make

Yes, but I suspect if he really wanted quiet, he could have shut up ten minutes ago.

With a bare bodkin? Who would there fardels bear,

Whoa.  A bare booty?  This is supposed to be a tasteful website.  Let’s move along here.

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

Yes, but it really won’t matter if you use a decent anti-perspirant.

But that the dread of something after death,

I think the only thing to worry about here is “passing on” while sunbathing.  No one ever notices, until you’re beet-red and start smelling something awful.  Whewie!

The undiscovered Countrey from whose Bourne

Another remarkable prediction. I could almost see Matt Damon (a.k.a. Jason Bourne) playing Captain Kirk if they ever do a remake of that Star Trek movie, the “Undiscovered Country”.

No traveller returns, puzels the will

Everyone knows you can return your traveler’s checks for a refund, so why Hamlet is puzzled over it is the real question here.  Most historians now agree that he lost not only his wallet (which contained the checks) but his original receipt as well.

And makes us rather beare those ills we have

No, no, no.  This has got to be a bit of impromptu to cover an actor’s lost line.   No one gets ill from gathering berries.  It’s eating a poisonous one that will kill you.

Than fly to others that we know not of?

I don’t know about you, but as a duck with extraordinary plumage I’m always flipping off or flying past others I don’t know.

Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,

This is one of those instances when Shakespeare made up a word by combining the words “cow” with “leotards”.   Personally, I find this a bit offensive, since he’s obviously implying something negative about his audience’s attire.

And thus the native hue of resolution

It’s true Hugh (Hamlet’s second cousin, twice removed) was a native, but Shakespeare is obviously taking liberties here because Hugh never made any resolutions, never lived on the reservation, wasn’t part of the revolution, and was generally about as anti-social as anyone you’ve ever met.

Is sicklied o’re with the pale cast of Thought,

Has this guy ever heard of spellchecker?  That’s S-i-t-u-a-t-i-o-n not sicklied, as in, “We’ve got a situation over here…the guy stuck his head in a pail and no one has a clue how to extract him.”

And enterprises of great pith and moment,

I sometimes wonder if Shakespeare had a lisp.  I mean, how’s jumping in a “pit” going to be a great moment for Hamlet if he can’t pronounce the word in the first place?  Ladeesth and gentlementh…I will now jump into thith gianth pith.  Tahhhh dahhhh.

With this regard their currents turne away,

Which is another was of saying, “Go with the flow, or you’ll go real slow.”

And lose the name of Action.—Soft you now,

Hey, this looks promising.  I think he’s either wrapping this up or his ice cream cone is melting.

The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy orisons

Most historians have missed the obvious reference here:  This was a sponsorship message like you often see on public TV.  The rough translation here is, “Sponsored by the Nymphs of Ophelia’s Foundation.  We’re located just over the horizon, ten feet past the county line and open around the clock.  We promise to satisfy all your needs.”

Be all my sinnes remembered.

Yes, and it’s a good thing the army rejected this motto before adopting the better known “Be all you can be.”

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Art By Shaun Novion
Interpretative History By Bob Anderson


For other startling duck history, you may also want to visit our
Famous Ducks Of History page.


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