At the time of writing, we’re currently reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet in English class. We read most of it aloud in class, which different people playing different parts. For Act 1, I’m currently the narrator/reader of the scene summaries included with our Folger editions. However, when I was reminded that Shakespeare wrote in Iambic Pentameter, I really wanted to read a character part, so that I could try reading it dramatically using an understanding of the meter, which my classmates don’t have. Why am I speaking about Hamlet in an article about Undertale? All will become clear, but if you need some convincing now, I’d reference what is admittedly a throwaway line in this article that says Hamlet does a lot of role-playing through the course of the play, which should be evidence enough for relevance to a narrative RPG, which people like to forget stands for role-playing game.
Anyway, so the afternoon after our first reading, I emailed my English teacher and asked if I could change to a character part to try this out, and she said I could take the part of Hamlet for Act 2. I was ecstatic, until I looked ahead to Act 2 and noticed that Hamlet spoke quite a lot in prose, at which point I was a little disappointed. But when I looked this up online, I found this article by Kim Ballard which explained it in such a way that the disappointment gave way to fascination. According to Ballard, after Hamlet learns of his father’s murder (spoilers?), he “speaks in prose for much of the rest of the play,” with the notable exceptions being his soliloquys and when he speaks to Horatio and his mother. When I found this out, I decided that the interesting mix of prose and verse used by Hamlet was well worth the opportunity cost of greater amounts of experimentation and practice for Iambic Pentameter I’d get with other characters. Plus, from what I’d seen of his prose, his lines were wonderful, mad nonsense, which I’d just had a lot of practice on writing the villain for my short story, “Equality of Chaos,” so I wanted to see another, professional take on that sort of thing. However, giving up the extra time meant more pressure is now placed on the few bits of Iambic Pentameter I do get to read, necessitating (in the opinion of my knowledge-hungry brain) more research and experimentation beforehand to compensate.
All this took place Tuesday-Thursday of this week (it’s Saturday as I write this). Thursday night, while messaging with my friends, I decided for no particular reason to start writing in Iambic Pentameter. I’d had a stressful day, so I wrote about it in a short little passage, which I’ll abstain from sharing for the sake of personal info. Anyway, I had fun doing it, so I asked if anyone wanted to commission a Shakespearean-style soliloquy in the voice of a fictional character. One friend leaped on the opportunity, and we agreed I’d write a soliloquy in the voice of Papyrus. It’d be a short piece, and I wanted to do it anyway for the sake of research, so she and I agreed on the price of $5.
I had time during a Metro ride today (to a meeting with Jen A. Blue to record episode 3 of our analytical viewing of the Undertale Genocide Run, a link to which I’ll put here, once it becomes available for public viewing), so I spent the time writing the soliloquy. I’m very proud of how it came out, although there are a few things I’d probably polish up if I were to publish it somewhere. For example, I didn’t really have the feel of the piece down in the first few lines, so they’re lacking in direction and organization. But, it’s in classic Iambic Pentameter throughout – perhaps a little too classic, as I rhymed much more than Shakespeare would, and didn’t break the meter until the very end, when I added an extra syllable as a stylistic choice for both the feel of the soliloquy and for the habits of Papyrus. Overall, however, I feel like I blended moderate knowledge of Shakespearean literature with extensive knowledge of Undertale to create a piece with merit enough in both. Enjoy!
Human! Whether you be a boy or girl,
You must now know it matters not how you
Did come to fall down here to monsterdom.
For here, you are, and now, my dear human:
You shall be made to fare in martyrdom!
“But how?” You ask the skeleton you see
What stands so tall, here on the path you need.
The path which to your home must surely lead!
Well now, dear human, that perhaps was true,
In simpler times, before your SOUL was blue.
But look! Dear human, I must make you see:
The world did change, as soon as you met me.
“But who,” you ask, “does this skeleton be?!?”
In fashion that’s quite wrong grammatically.
Well, dear human, I shall forgive your wrong,
To expedite this introduction long.
In fleeting time, you shall be made to know
The humble roots of the warrior of bone.
“But what,” you scream,” is this great warrior’s name?”
Which now, I’ll tell, to spare the guessing game.
“The Great Papyrus,” is the name I’d say,
The moment ‘fore I’d leap into the fray,
The battle we shall wage on Monster’s Day,
To whose victory I will say, “Nyeh heh hey!”
And such a title I do proudly bear.
“The Great Papyrus” has a noble air.
And such nobility I’ll have to wield,
‘Gainst’ you, my greatest enemy revealed!
You see, my mission is to bravely catch,
A human, ‘fore they batten down the hatch!
And since this great imperative you’ll find,
Was handed down by warrioress Undyne,
My solemn duty it must be to set
A batch of traps and dangers ‘gainst this threat.
You see, my great teacher Undyne has said,
“The humans deserve war to be beset!
Their wrongs against us, we must not forget!
They locked us here! The barrier, they set!”
Now you, my dear human, look like I’ll find,
A decent character inside your mind,
For your behaviors now must be assessed,
So your experience will be the best.
You’ll find a box of surveys off stage left,
To be filled ‘fore conclusion of the test.
My top priorities are japes and fun,
Both yours and mine, before the war I’ve won.
And now, my dear human, I do decree,
“We now begin the great Gauntlet to free
The monsters trapped down with human debris.”
The first test, on the table here, you’ll see:
Would you like to try a bite of spaghetti?
Well, that’s it! Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed! Credit goes to the excellent Emile Flowers for the featured image! Also, big acknowledgement to the Symphonic Gamers Orchestra for this Undertale medley masterpiece I listened to while wrapping this up. See you all next time!
Author’s Notes: 1) I intended to post this last night, but WordPress smote it with fiery curses of malfunction, and I ragequit, thinking everything was gone but the first paragraph, when really it was all still saved. Decided to preserve the language instead of updating it to justify the Sunday posting. 2) My apologies to everyone who came for Undertale and had to suffer through Shakespeare. 3) Did you know the Rule of Threes is sometimes a curse rather than a blessing? I know, it shocked me, too.