The Hamlet by William Faulkner
"The Hamlet" by William Faulkner is a sprawling and intricate novel that takes the reader on a journey through life in the rural South. Set in the fictional town of Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi, the novel follows the story of the Snopes family as they navigate the challenges of poverty, social stigma, and their own internal struggles.
The novel is divided into three parts, each of which focuses on a different member of the Snopes family. The first part of the novel introduces the reader to the Snopes family as they arrive in Frenchman's Bend. The family is poor, uneducated, and viewed with suspicion by the townspeople. However, they are determined to make a new life for themselves, and they quickly establish themselves as shrewd and cunning individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead.
Through the eyes of the narrator, the reader witnesses the Snopes family's various attempts to establish themselves in the community, including the patriarch Abner Snopes' attempts to gain access to the de Spain family's land, which leads to a violent confrontation. The first part of the novel lays the foundation for the themes that will be explored throughout the rest of the work: the corrupting influence of power, the destructive nature of greed, and the importance of family and community.
In the second part of the novel, the focus shifts to Flem Snopes, the son of the family patriarch. Flem is a calculating and ambitious individual who is determined to rise to the top of the social ladder in Frenchman's Bend. He uses his intelligence and cunning to manipulate those around him, and he quickly becomes a powerful figure in the community. However, his success comes at a great cost, and he alienates many of those who were once close to him, including his own wife and child.
The second part of the novel is particularly rich in its exploration of the themes of power and greed. Through Flem's actions and interactions with other characters, Faulkner shows how the pursuit of power and wealth can lead to corruption and the destruction of relationships. The reader sees Flem's rise to power, but also his ultimate downfall, as his ambition leads to his undoing.
The third and final part of the novel focuses on the downfall of the Snopes family as a whole. The family is torn apart by greed and ambition, and they are ultimately destroyed by their own actions. The reader witnesses the family's various struggles and conflicts, including Abner's violent death at the hands of his own son, and the ensuing legal battles that tear the family apart.
Throughout the novel, Faulkner uses a variety of narrative techniques to create a complex and multi-layered narrative. He employs stream-of-consciousness narration, multiple points of view, and non-linear storytelling to explore the inner lives of his characters and to highlight the interconnectedness of their experiences.
"The Hamlet" is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that offers a deep and nuanced exploration of life in the rural South. Faulkner's vivid and evocative prose brings the world of Frenchman's Bend to life, and his masterful storytelling keeps the reader engaged and invested in the fate of the Snopes family. The novel is a testament to Faulkner's skill as a writer, and it continues to resonate with readers today, more than half a century after its initial publication.
In conclusion, "The Hamlet" is a work of literature that is both challenging and rewarding. It is a novel that demands close attention and careful analysis, but it is also a work that offers profound insights into the human condition. From its vivid characters to its intricate plot, "The Hamlet" is a novel that will stay with the reader long after they have finished reading it.