Shylock: Antonio, I haven’t seen you for a long time. They said that you went on a trip to the States. How was that?
Antonio: Very enjoyable. I went to “Shakespeare in Washington,” a six-month festival with more than 500 performances and events of all kind—traditional, whimsical, inventive, and offbeat.
Shylock: Oh, that Shakespeare is quite a bad guy! He wrote a play called The Merchant of Venice, in which a poor Jew merchant is treated quite unfairly in a court scene.
Antonio: Speaking of the court, I went to “The Trial of Hamlet,” a mock trial based on Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Hamlet. It was a whopping success. An audience of more than a thousand crowded into the theater to see how the case was prosecuted and defended, and what the final verdict would be.
Shylock: And what was the verdict?
Antonio: Since Shakespeare wrote a deliberate puzzle, the jurors deadlocked by 6 to 6, in elegant tribute to Shakespeare’s enigmatic masterpiece.
Shylock: What? They had a jury, too?
Antonio: Or what do you think a “mock trial” should look like? Things proceeded as they would be in a real court, only that the case is fictive. In additional to the jury, they had four nationally known attorneys who argued as they would in any court, and two prominent psychiatric experts who gave testimony with regard to Hamlet’s status of mind. Moreover, the trial was presided over by a real U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Shylock: That’s extraordinary. I don’t suppose that attorneys and psychiatrists and court justices whould have so much time performing for the public. Oh, wait a minute! Probably the psychiatrists do have some time.
Antonio: Hey, be respectful to psychiatrists. Our new century abounds in madness, and they are getting busier and busier these days.
Shylock: Alright then, what did our busy psychiatrists have to say about poor Hamlet’s mental status?
Antonio: They brought about an intriguing division. One diagnosis is that Hamlet’s monologues were signs of a crazy person talking to himself. And his encounters with his murdered father’s ghost were hallucinations that further proved his madness. But the other side simply believed that the seemingly schizophrenic Hamlet was feigning madness in order that he could carry out his criminal plan more smoothly. His sanity was so difficult to tell that it was no wonder the jurors were deadlocked.
Shylock: You see, I told you what a bad guy Shakespeare is. He wouldn’t rest in peace even hundreds of years after his death. He wanted everyone to keep arguing for something he failed to make clear.
Antonio: Ha, I guess you are partly right in saying so. But don’t forget one thing. Great writers never make everything clear. That’s why they are great.