Notwithstanding the numerous theories put forth in your impassioned term paper, the skull? It was just meant to be a skull. Nothing more.
And Hamlet? Guy who loved skulls. Quite simple.
The poison? That was meant to denote poison.
The flowers? Flowers.
Light and dark? Were these two ends of the brightness spectrum meant to represent good and evil, you ask? Of course not! It was light during the day and dark during the night. That’s it.
There is one point on which your term paper and I agree—the play within the play that Hamlet stages in an attempt to draw a confession of guilt from his mother? That was meant to approximate the feelings associated with growing up in a small Midwestern town, with a father whose unfulfilled football dreams manifest as a heavy-handed discouragement of your involvement in drama club. Quite an astute observation, Jacob!
Now, if you could just lose all the stuff about power and mortality and good and evil, you just might have a decent paper on your hands.
MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, AND JOHN
Matthew: Sure, there are slight differences in our accounts.
Mark: That was intentional!
Luke: We were going for a kind of “Rashomon” effect.
John: Each version was meant to reveal—when read alongside the others—a different shade of truth.
Matthew: Which is not easy to do, but we trusted our readers.
Mark: Perhaps that’s where we went wrong.
Luke: Might we remind you that none of us were tenured professors?
John: Forget tenure, none of us could read or write!
HEAD BUILDER OF KING TUTANKHAMUN’S TOMB
Thanks, everyone, for coming. Especially those who feared that this might be a trap. What can I say? I am sorry. I feel regret. Hysteria was never our intention. All we were trying to do, with the tomb, was create a fun sort of treasure hunt. In hindsight, I can see how some of the hieroglyphs might have come across as menacing. Here I am of course referring to those depicting giant spikes, pits filled with snakes, and enormous beetles biting the heads off humans. I get it, I do. But you must understand that, at the time, we did not exactly have an abundance of symbols to draw from. Were we to order the inscription today, with what we know now, would we do it differently? Yes, we would. Would we, when handing over the plans to the inscribers—who, as it turns out, also offered giant-spike-installation and snake-pit-filling services—make doubly sure that they knew the plans were for inscription purposes only? Again, yes, we would.
Jefferson: We took many truths to be self-evident.
Franklin: Most of them didn’t make the final cut.
Adams: They were self-evident. Why write them down?
Jefferson: Such as, yes, destructive governments should be abolished, by armed militias, if need be. So, for convenience’s sake, people were allowed to keep and bear arms.
Franklin: But this was the eighteenth century! We did not have semi-automatics back then!
Adams: In those days, if someone pulled a musket on you, they’d better hope you weren’t carrying a spatula.
Jefferson: All we’re saying is keep it era-appropriate.
Franklin: As every LARPer knows, anachronisms spoil the illusion.
Adams: So, the next time you and your friends want to dress up and play militias, please, stick to peashooters.
THE CREATORS OF “LOST”
Creator 1: We dreamed it up as a simple plane-goes-down-stranding-passengers-on-an-island story. “Gilligan’s Island,” but sub out the boat. Nothing more to it.
Creator 2: And with a totally linear story line. Maybe a flashback or two for character development, but nothing more elaborate than that.
Creator 3: We’re not Charlie Kaufman.
C1: Not even close.
C2: Really, what we were interested in was how the passengers adapted to their new lives on the island. No microwaves, no Walmart.
C3: You know, making fires, whittling spears, weaving.
C1: You can imagine our surprise then, when we saw what was being written online?
C2: The show as a work of world-bending genius—our little show! About spearfishing and hut-making! Genius. Well, we must draw the line. If that’s how you interpreted it, we’re sorry.
C3: Very sorry indeed.