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  • Has anyone ever read the book or seen any of the movies or stage plays?

    Sons of Anarchy is a (loose) interpretation of the story.

    Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language. During Shakespeare's lifetime, the play was one of his most popular works, and it still ranks high among his most-performed, giving us many famous reference quotes often used today..

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

    "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him (well)"

    "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. "

    "To sleep, perchance to dream".

    "Get thee to a nunnery".

    "This above all - to thine own self be true"

    .... and many more.

    Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in the Kingdom of Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius, firstly for murdering the old King Hamlet (Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father) and secondly for then succeeding to the throne and marrying Gertrude (the King Hamlet's widow and mother of Prince Hamlet). The play vividly portrays real and feigned madness – from overwhelming grief to seething rage – and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption. Hamlet's hesitation to kill his uncle, some see as a plot device to prolong the action, and others see it as the result of pressure exerted by the complex philosophical and ethical issues that surround cold-blooded murder, calculated revenge and thwarted desire.

    I see the following character comparisons with Sons of Anarchy.

    Jax = Hamlet–Son of the former king, and nephew of the present King

    Clay = Claudius–King of Denmark, Hamlet's uncle.

    Gemma = Gertrude–Queen of Denmark, and mother to Hamlet

    Manuscript & Letters = Ghost of Hamlet's Father.

    Bobby = Polonius–Lord Chamberlain

    Tara = Ophelia- Hamlet's love & Daughter to Polonius

    Opie = Horatio–Friend to Hamlet

    What are your thoughts?

    Updated 25 months ago by the author. Like this post to subscribe to the topic.
  • themes of treachery,revenge,incest,seething rage and moral corruption ..i can safely say sons has covered all of the above. I think your comparisons are pretty accurate Ken. I know this play, but not well. Its often played in v different ways at theatres also. There was a recent play here in the UK where they had adapted it to the streets, used street slang instead of the play wording its self. I think there was a film done but based NYC a few years back as well. The Hamlet theme can transcend a lot of situations and life's. I think its a stroke of genius adapting it to an biker club.

  • I'm currently about to watch the 1996 version of the film starring Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie. & Kate Winslett (critics claim it is arguably the best version).

    Some very good support cast members (Charlton Heston, John Geilgud, Judi Dench, Gérard Depardieu, Jack Lemmon, John Mills, etc).. and even a few good comic actors (Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Ken Dodd).

    It's 4 hours long and the 'Shakespearean dialogue' makes it quite heavy going, , but I think I'll try to watch 30 mins at a time, spread over the week.


    Although, I think the 1990 version with Mel Gibson & Glenn Close is much easier to follow.


    Updated 50 months ago by the author.
  • Excellent choice of movie versions, Ken. I used to teach "Hamlet" in my World Lit. course and used this version, in conjunction with Mel Gibson's, to compare interpretations of the character of Hamlet. Of particular interest is the "To be or not to be" scene in the Branagh version. Check it out.

    I think your comparison of characters listed here is pretty accurate, overall. I have a difficult time limiting the role of Polonius to a single SoA character, though. If I had to choose one, though, I think I'd put my money on Unser. While essentially powerless in the face of SAMCRO, Unser has witnessed and been involved in the club's activities from its creation. As a general reporter to and for the audience, Unser sees more of the truth than most of the characters and actually understands the implications of the actions. He's also a good comedic relief tool for Sutter (though Chuckie is arguably all of these things, too.)

    Another thought: Tara in S4E10, when she realizes the loss of her "way out" as Sutter puts it, certainly resembles a suicidal Ophelia toppling over the edge of sanity as she recognizes the apparent helplessness of her situation (or "fate" as she calls it).

  • The 'Shakespearean dialogue' is why I never really bothered with it properly, as I find it hard to understand and boring if I'm honest. If you used to teach it then maybe you could recommend a readable version, that dumb ass with short attention span like myself would enjoy :)

  • Cacee: "Tara in S4E10, when she realizes the loss of her "way out" as Sutter puts it, certainly resembles a suicidal Ophelia"

    I'm wondering if perhaps the injury to Tara's hand (effectively 'killing' her career) is being used as the symbolic comparison to the death of Ophelia.... which contributes to Hamlet's (Jax's) madness (anger, grief, rage).

  • Shabba: Don't short-change yourself. Shakespeare is freaking hard work, especially if you're reading alone. That is not to suggest that you need a teacher, but reading it along with someone else gives you the chance to discuss what you think is going on and realize that you can trust your instincts. Try this site: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet/page_2.html. You'll find the traditional text alongside a more modern interpretation. Reading them together will help you understand the action; however, if you read the modern instead of the traditional, you'll lose all the beauty of the verse and lots of the metaphors that are so very important.

    Ken: Indeed! I hadn't thought of it, but you're right. I'll be quite convinced if we see Tara's inner strength diminish along with that of her hand.

  • Another side note: I think Opie is more similar to Laertes than Horatio. After all, he has reason to turn on Jax and has lost everyone in his life to the club, much like Laertes has lost his family because of the conflict between Hamlet and Claudius.

    I like that you've pegged JT's manuscript as the Ghost of Hamlet's father, Ken. Indeed, it does function that way. I'd argue that the letters, though, are more like the play-within-a-play that Hamlet uses to convince himself of Claudius's guilt.

    As for who or what might be Horatio, I don't think we've seen who or what that might be yet. Bobby might fill this role after all is said and done because he knows a good bit of it already and will likely learn the rest. Further, his only beef with Clay at the moment is the drug deal, so he has no real reason to get involved. The real determination will be at the end of the series when we see who is left alive to tell the story.

  • Cacee, "I'd argue that the letters, though, are more like the play-within-a-play that Hamlet uses to convince himself of Claudius's guilt. "

    Good call.

    I'm wondering who (or what) you've pegged as the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern duo yet?

    Or Yorick?

    ... if anyone (anything)?

    Perhaps the 2 courtiers sent by the King to keep an eye on (and secretly kill?) the Prince.... could be any of the SOA crew. Bobby & Tig, maybe? Or Romeo & Ruiz?

    I am thinking (ok maybe reaching)... the skull of Yorick could be the letters from Maureen?

    The monologue ("Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now?") may equate to Jax reading the letters and finding out his father wasn't the man he always thought?

    Or could be Jax finding out about Juice trying to hang himself (trying not to take the "those lips that I have kissed " too literally - lol).

    Or maybe I'm just trying too hard to join the dots. lol

    I'm interested in your thoughts...

  • Ken, far be it from me to criticize anyone for pushing too hard for a connection between SoA and "Hamlet." I'm probably guilty of over-thinking it myself. But it's so compelling! I'm tickled pink to find someone as interested in this interpretation as I am.

    Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, so far, seem to me to be best represented by Tig and Kozik. Although we don't know which two SAMCRO members might carry the metaphoric letter calling for Jax's death, these two seem to be the least likely to question Clay's actions or his word (Tig, because of his close friendship with Clay, and Kozik, because of his need to prove his loyalty to the charter). Further, they have a trying friendship that is both estranged (because of whatever happened with Missy the dog) and oddly close. There's clearly quite a bit of history here that we don't know that keeps them very close, but won't allow Tig to acknowledge that bond, either.

    I don't know yet about Yorick's skull, but I think a likely candidate is Piney. Here's an interesting thing about Piney's physical body: While the rest of the action since the original exchange of the cocaine seems relatively fast-paced (meaning that the SoA time-line seems rather short, perhaps as short as a week has passed), the obvious decomposition of Piney's body that we see represented in the clips for next week's episode as Unser uses a face mask, seems to move too quickly to correspond with that time line, thereby highlighting the theme of rotting-from-the-inside that we see in "Hamlet." If we see Jax witness Piney's decomposition and recognize how much he learned from Piney and how much he really cared for him, I think the connection Piney's body and Yorick's skull will be unquestionable. If not, though, we may have to look elsewhere for Jax's recognition of the definitive nature of mortality.

    What do you think?

  • I like your thinking. :-)

  • I have nothing to say, but I am Thoroughly enjoying this conversation! Keep it coming!

  • im with Tish, this is most excellent stuff.

  • Opie as Horatio sounds right on. In Hamlet, doesn't Horatio spread the word to the public about Hamlet after his death?

    Who knows, we may see a fast-forward to the future at the very end of the series with Opie sitting around the table with teenaged or middle-aged versions of Abel and Thomas telling them how their dad saved SAMCRO.

  • @ Cacee thanks for the link I'm going to get my Hamlet on :)

    @ Bill, like that idea!

  • You bettcha', Shabba. I'd love to hear what you think when you've finished with the play. If you need some help along the way, holler.

    Bill, you're right that Opie does share lots of characteristics with Horatio. I'm trying to resist a 1:1 comparison, too. Certainly, these are not Shakespeare's characters and there's nothing that says that Sutter must (or even should) maintain the same divisions that Shakespeare did. Any combination (or leaving out altogether) the various aspects of the play is certainly his prerogative.

    Part of me loves the vision of the ending of the series that you suggest, but part of me hates it. I'm not sure what I'd want to see, but I don't think I want to see the boys in the same situation and fighting the same battles as Jax. If that happens, it seems that he really hasn't changed anything at all, unless we see a very different MC in that time.

    If we do keep to the trajectory of the play, though, the MC should be dissolved or taken over by another MC, just as Denmark is invaded by Fortinbras' army.

  • Perhaps Fortinbras is Potter (or Roosevelt)... or the general representation of the "Law Enforcement" agencies?

    And wheras Hamlet's Denmark eventually fell to the invading Norwegian forces of Fortinbras, perhaps we shall see the SOA fall to the Law-Enforcement authorities led by the ATF/Sheriff's dept?

  • I am so going to watch the movie soon

  • In Hamlet, where the Prince puts on the play to watch Claudius's reaction....

    I think is basically where Jax gets the letters and (finally) confronts Clay in the hospital.

  • Checking in to get my SOA ("Hamlet") groove going just before season's premier. Ken, in response to your last comment: I certainly think that confrontation can be considered part of Jax's (Hamlet's) gauging Clay's (Claudius's) reaction to a reenactment of JT's murder. I doubt, though, that will be all there is to it. Gemma (like Gertrude in many "Hamlet" interpretations) is just as involved in the murder as Clay. I have a strong suspicion that story will carry us (and Jax) much further into the story than Shakespeare definitively allows. Depending on how Sutter plays this season, we may be able to argue that the entire season (beginning at the very end of last season's finale) functions as the play-within-a-play.

    If Sutter keeps to Shakespeare's presentation to the "Fortinbras" character/force, none of the agencies qualify because they have been far too involved in the action of the "play." Fortinbras is little more than a plot device--a way to bring about a clear climax. I'm not sure how this will play out. Like the Horatio equivalent, I think we'll have to wait until the very end of the series to see who or what will fill these roles.

    Any predictions for the upcoming season with regard to the "Hamlet" correlation?

  • I have a prediction. Nero is going to kill Gemma.

  • i think nero is the saving grace that gets the club out from under romeo's pressure......

  • When compared with the hamlet script, it became obvious to me that Opie is Ophelia. Note the names frequently match as clues too. That would make Piney Polonius. Just a hunch at this point but since the letters were passed from Tara to Jax, Tara is scholarly, and very close to Jax, I'm putting Tara as Horatio.

  • Doug, I've been thinking about your suggestion that Opie can be equated to Ophelia for a little while now. It may simply be the romantic nature of the Hamlet and Ophelia relationship, but there's something about that comparison that doesn't sit well with me. The more I think about it, the more I dislike comparing the two characters. There are several reasons I can't peg Opie as Ophelia:

    -Ophelia is a flat character. The only interesting thing about her is her love for Hamlet. She serves to remind the audience that Hamlet is in a very precarious position and that people other than himself will ultimately pay for his actions despite what he has to say about it. Hamlet, on the other hand, can't decide if he loves Ophelia, if loving her puts her in danger, or if he should kill himself for a variety of reasons. Opie is a very complicated character with lots of motivations for his actions throughout the story arc.

    -Ophelia's suicide is motivated by grief over what she perceived as her loss of Hamlet's love. ("Get thee to a nunnery!") Opie decided to die--I hate to term his decision as suicide, but it does fit--for several reasons, I think. He was determined to remove the impossible decision from Jax's shoulders, but he also wanted to stop his own suffering. Poor, poor Opie.

    -Ophelia doesn't see the complicated situation in which Hamlet finds himself. There are two things that matter to her: Hamlet and her family. Opie, on the other hand, does see the complications of the MC. He sees everything fairly clearly and is not confused about what he thinks is right. Further, Opie doesn't compromise what he thinks and he makes no bones about it. Unfortunately, Jax's situation is far more complicated than Opie is willing to admit. But then we also have to recognize that the relationships that make decisions complicated for Jax have been taken away from Opie by the end of season 5. Opie has already lost everyone except Jax.

    Lastly, the similarity between "Ophelia" and "Opie" is, at least to my mind, little more than a coincidence. Along with referencing and rewriting "Hamlet," Sutter is also paying homage to The Andy Griffith Show. The use of the name "Opie" is a name that he uses to make that connection clear. Charming is a happy little town, aside from the interference of the MCs, much like Mayberry. Also note that a few important conflicts and conversations, especially in season 1, happen at the town barber shop, Floyd's.

  • Hello all! I have really enjoyed reading this discussion as the numerous parallels began catching my eye as I got about halfway through season one. Anyways I have to write an argumentative paper comparing one work of classic literature to a modern day work of art and I was wondering if you guys could help me get started with an argumentative thesis that has enough depth to cover seven pages? I think I want to work with the disillusion from within and the idea the nation is a diseased body themes. My biggest struggle with this is wording it right to make it argumentative as this is the first paper of this nature that I have ever done.

    This is from the assignment sheet:

    Provide a specific, argumentative working thesis regarding a comparison/contrast of the

    two works the paper will discuss.

    Thank you so much, any little bit helps!

  • Well, what happened to this discussion? Fascinating, to say the least!!!

  • Agreed Deborah! I am thinking Opie was Ophelia, as well. And Tara is Horatio.

  • So glad you've enjoyed this discussion, Deborah and Jeannie. Honestly, I stopped my analysis here because I thought everyone was probably pretty sick of my long, long rambles! LOL

  • No! Not at all!

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