Okay, I have to admit that my posts here and over at my own blog have made me out to be quite the Debbie Downer since school resumed after the break. To make up for it, here's a funny story straight from the mouths of the babes at the Morton School.
Understand that one of my great loves in life is Hamlet. It's walking brilliance on so many levels. Hamlet is clever and crazy, sad and sexy, power-mad and powerless, and basically one of the most awesome characters in all of Western literature. I love Hamlet and Hamlet. That said.
My darlings and I were discussing a short story today, and one of them teased out the use of a skull as a symbol for death in the story. I about lost my mind with the chance to make a Hamlet reference to my middle schoolers. I told them the whole story about Yorick and the graveyard scene and how Hamlet basically makes the skull the symbol of death and mortality we know it as today.
They were mildly interested. Then a kid said, "Yeah, kind of like the grim reaper, too. That's another symbol of death."
"Great, great!" I said, still riding high on my wave of Hamlet euphoria. "And in what other works do we see that symbol used?"
"Oh," said the kid, "there was that episode of Family Guy--"
"Oh yeah!" chorused the rest of the class. "When Peter has the near-death experience and the death guy follows him around!"
I was forced to admit that I knew what they were talking about.
However, I have also watched Kenneth Branagh's unabridged film version of Hamlet twice, so that should still count for something.