by Haley Weaver
Shakespeare is seen as a literary genius, considering the work he did in the 17th century. It was impressive for his time and now, it’s considered classic literature. Specifically, Hamlet portrays Shakespeare’s work magnificently. He’s a great, intelligent, and very well-known master of the Arts. Shakespeare is great and all… but for the 17th century. It’s the 21st century now, and there is so many more pieces of literature that are arguably better than Hamlet. My personal favorite for this century is It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
In the book It’s Kind of a Funny Story, the protagonist, Craig Gilner, is a depressed and suicidal teenager. His friends smoke a lot of marijuana and he’s jealous of his friends girlfriend. Craig tells the reader about his trip to the shrink and let’s us know just how many different therapists he’s seen. After nearly killing himself, he admits himself to the psych ward of a hospital where the teen area is closed for remodeling, so he has to be placed with the adults. He meets many people and sees that they’re in a worse situation than he is. He meets another teen there and ends up falling in love with her. Through his time spent there, he comes to realize that there’s no reason to be sad when there’s so much to do in life and there’s no time to be wasted. He can’t even remember why he was trying to kill himself initially. It’s very moving and makes you want to get up and do something about your life.
Hamlet is constantly dramatic, whereas IKOAFS has one main conflict which is resolved pretty quickly and we get to know the characters better. While watching the film for Hamlet, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting to see what would happen next, but when watching IKOAFS, I felt relaxed for the most part and just thoroughly enjoyed it. In IKOAFS, no one dies but in Hamlet, nearly everyone dies. The overall main point in Hamlet is about avenging his father. The main point in IKOAFS is that Craig wants to commit suicide. I suppose both of the main points involve death and they’re both pretty saddening considering one wants to die and the other wants his step dad to die.
Both of the main characters in these stories have obvious mental problems. Hamlet has kind of lost his mind although it’s for clear reasons. Craig, on the other hand, just has severe depression and anxiety but his reasons for it aren’t very clear. Both Craig and Hamlet have a love interest but Craig’s is within arms reach, and Hamlet’s is, well, dead (from killing herself, which is a familiar theme in IKOAFS). Both Craig and Hamlet are pretty unstable mentally. In the end, Craig sorts through his mental struggles, and Hamlet escapes his struggles through death (not only the death of his step dad, but eventually his own).
The main antagonist in Hamlet is Claudius but the main ‘character’ in IKOAFS is depression and anxiety. Hamlet is up against a physical person while Craig is against a couple of mental illnesses. Hamlet has a close friend throughout the story named Horatio. Hamlet has known Horatio for an undefined amount of time but they’re portrayed to be the best of friends. In IKOAFS, we watch Craig make his best friend (and eventually, girlfriend) in the psych ward. Once Craig admitted himself to the hospital, his friends kind of turned their backs on him, almost like how Hamlet’s friends did in Hamlet. Later, Craig’s friends apologize whereas Hamlet’s “friends” are still his enemies. Hamlet and Craig both have back-stabbing friends who give off the feeling that they don’t care too much about their friends.
Hamlet is outdated in a way that I can’t understand it without an outside source helping me. It makes it more poetic by using words such as “thou” or “hath” but it makes it more difficult to understand. I won’t lie and say that IKOAFS is more poetic because it’s not. Shakespeare knew just what he was doing and throws in soliloquies and sonnets and just makes his work more beautiful any way that he can. I don’t want to say that depression is poetic but in the case of IKOAFS, it is. It’s great and poetic almost to watch Craig pull himself out of this hole he was stuck in. Craig talks about things he calls “anchors and tentacles” where anchors are things he can just do, without having it lead to anything else, and tentacles are things that lead to doing other things where it usually ends with him concluding he’ll be homeless; I think that metaphor is poetic. Honestly, it’s so relatable to me and, to hit that close to home blows my mind. The dialogue is easily understood and probably at a low reading level, but the overall story is just moving and inspirational.
Everyone around the world knows who Shakespeare is. He’s made his place as the creator of drama known. Hamlet is universal for this reason. Hamlet gives us an idea of a battle between Norway and Denmark. It also gives us an idea of how family rivalries can arise and how the line of the throne works, which I suppose can be considered a cultural reference. IKOAFS is universal because everyone knows at least one person suffering from depression; it makes it relatable for everyone. The only literary fault is how easy it is to read, which can also be considered a perk.
Hamlet should be remembered as being a classic piece of literature. I don’t really think it should be celebrated because the whole story is mainly sad. IKOAFS should be remembered by being happy with life. There’s so much to do with the time you have on earth and it’s worth it to make the best of it. At the end of the book, the author (Ned Vizzini) starts listing off things you can do with your time to make things just a little brighter like “Draw more.” or “Skip. Okay, it’s gay, whatever, skip.” and he ends it by saying the word “Live.” five times. That’s something that stuck with me and I know that even 10 years from now, I will remember this book and how it helped me.