Shakespearean Fan Fiction

What is it about Shakespeare's plays that has caused four centuries of theater-lovers and readers to reimagine his work? Interpretation of both his prose and poetic work has branched out in a myriad of media, from musicals to the elaborate conspiracy theories of the Baconites. Many critics cite his ability to capture the overarching human spirit to such a degree that it encompasses nearly all possible worldly emotion. Other critics disagree, thinking there are emotions in these characters which Shakespeare never knew about. Some of these rogue critics are 13-year-olds.

And this is the work of the 13-year-olds.

For better or for worse, these young revisionists believe that the lofty goals set forth by the grandmaster of Elizabethan theater were not lofty enough, and they have created an elaborate world where the bear from The Winter's Tale can have a romantic relationship with the 2nd Witch from Macbeth as fast as they can write about it. Shakespearean fan fiction has always existed to some extent, with unattributed additions written into the work after the folios were released, but it usually flew under the radar. Oftentimes, certain literary theorists would write critical essays about Shakespeare's work and then insert one of their fantasies about Horatio or Ophelia and be done with it.

These stories are, well, a little different.

Consider one example, the story called "Hamlet: The Spoiled Prince Makes a Friend." Here is an excerpt:

Little Hamlet sulked in the corner for a while. Soon, a small bespectacled boy approached him.

"Hi. I'm Howatio."
"I am Hamlet, Prince of Denmark."
"What's wong, Hamwet?"
"My mommy left me here. In hell."
"It's not he-w. Besides, aww of us have to go to schoow he-uh. Evewybody's mommy has to go to work."
"Not mine! My mommy's the queen!"
"Oh. Do you want my cookie?"

This section abruptly breaks off until bullies of Wittenberg University Kindergarten attack from behind and take Horatio's glasses. Hamlet shoves them, and the scene continues:

"Don't bother Horatio, or my dad will put you in the dungeons!"
"Oh yeah? Who's your dad, the king?" they laughed.
"Yeah, he is."

For further elucidation of this genre, try out this Charmed/Macbeth crossover called "Charmed/Macbeth." This is the same Charmed that played on the WB alongside 7th Heaven and was produced by Aaron Spelling, the guy who did 90210. How, you might ask, could the author possibly integrate these two disparate worlds gracefully and tactfully?

The Halliwell sisters, Prue, Piper and Phoebe, were having lunch at their house. Cole suddenly appeared and warned the sister about alteration of our history. Cole said, "Macduff had returned! He went through a time portal several centuries ago. He killed Macbeth! You'll need to go back in time to stop him."

In this artful fanfic, Shakespeare's verse is written in red, and the story itself takes on the style of a King James Bible. At first, I disliked this idea. Then I understood it for what it truly was, not what the author intended it to be. Shakespeare is to the new author as Jesus is to Jesus' fucking annoying disciples. My favorite part is probably the end:

Macduff threw Macbeth's head toward Piper and the three sisters froze it. While everyone else was frozen, Macduff continued throwing the fireballs at them. The three witches were chanting the vanquishing spell and Macduff had vanquished. The three sisters unfroze them and went somewhere to go back to the time portal. When they got back to present time, they turned on a television set and the Prince of England was OK.

This is merely a sampling of what the Internet has to offer you, discriminating Shakespeare fanfic readers. For more Shakespearean fan fiction, try Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead or the works of Neil Gaiman.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" -- Hamlet, Act II, Scene II


Posted by kevin on Sat, 12 Apr 2008 18:56:58 -0400 -- permanent link

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