Cast of Characters:
MARIAH- sixteen years old, author of The Suicide List
MR. TRESSEL*- an English teacher
CARLY*- a student
AIMEE*- a student
OTHER STUDENTS- a mass of nameless classmates
(*name has been changed to protect the person's identity. I may be mean, but I'm not that mean.)
Setting: Friday, October 3, 2008, a dank classroom, third hour English
(Scene opens. MR. TRESSEL is standing at the front of the room. The STUDENTS are sitting at their desks. The bell rings, and MARIAH slides into her seat just in time.)
MR. TRESSEL: Good morning class. Today we will continue our discussion of Hamlet to prepare you for writing your paper. I hope all of you have read the assigned pages.
(STUDENTS groan- many of them have not done the homework.)
MR. TRESSEL: Turn to page 217 in your books.
(There is more general complaining from the STUDENTS.)
CARLY: (raises hand) Mr. Tressel, this book is too hard.
MR. TRESSEL: What do you mean by that, Carly?
CARLY: Well, like, who ever talks like that? I know it's a play but... it's too hard to understand, like, there's not enough description. And, it's like I don't get all the, the, (she flips through notes to find the right word) metaphors. Why can't Shakespeare just tell us what's going on like normal people?
MARIAH: (under her breath) He does.
MR. TRESSEL: (glares at MARIAH, then answers Carly's question) Shakespeare lived during the fifteenth century- the writing style was much different then. Hamlet does include a lot of figurative language, which is why it has been chosen for this course. So, on page 217 there is a very famous monologue, or soliloquy- (AIMEE raises her hand)- yes, Aimee?
AIMEE: Can you explain what that whole big blathering about arrows and slings and a sea and sleep and dreams is about?
MR. TRESSEL: We're going to dig through it together. Who thinks they can explain the first line? (He searches around the room) .... Mariah?
MARIAH: (reads) To be or not to be, that is the question. (shuts book; she has memorized the speech years ago) To exist or not to exist. Hamlet is pondering if it would be better to have never have existed at all, and the pros and cons of life. 'Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/ And by opposing, end them' weighs whether it is morally better to suffer and hope that suddenly things will get better, or if it is easier to try to tackle the consuming issues that are too much for one person to handle and therefore.... die.
CARLY: That was more than one line.
MR. TRESSEL: Mariah, is there a suggestion of a particular manner of death?
MARIAH: Well, obviously, there's the implication of... (she trails off)
AIMEE: Stop, I'm still writing this down. (She scribbles frantically)
MR. TRESSEL: (somberly) There is an implication of what, Mariah?
MARIAH: I.... I.... I can't talk about this right now.
CARLY: (suddenly has an enlightenment as to what the soliloquy is about. She gets an evilish gleam in her eye) What's the matter, hmmm, Mariah? Are you too emo to say suicide?
MARIAH: (softly) I said... I can't talk about it...
AIMEE: Psh. It's not like anything has ever happened to anyone in here.
MARIAH: (jumps out of desk and stands glaring over AIMEE) HOW DO YOU KNOW? YOU THINK YOU KNOW EVERY FUCKING DETAIL OF EVERYONE'S LIFE. BUT GUESS WHAT? I GUESS YOU DON'T KNOW EVERTHING ABOUT ME! MAYBE, JUST MAYBE SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED.
(The STUDENTS stare in shock.)
MR. TRESSEL: (rubs forehead) Mariah, please calm down. It is not worth getting upset over.
MARIAH: (resolutely, as she gazes around the class) You're all clueless, aren't you? (to MR. TRESSEL) Too late. I'm already upset.
MR. TRESSEL: Consider this your second warning.
MARIAH: And Carly and Aimee get none? 'The law's delay, the insolence of office' that Shakespeare wrote of is still going strong, I see.
MR. TRESSEL: (feeblely) Mariah... ISS- now.
MARIAH: That's it- I'm DONE. FUCK YOU, (She shoves the book into her bag) FUCK THIS SCHOOL, (kicks the desk aside) AND FUCK EVERYONE WHO THINKS SUICIDE IS A SUPERFICIAL MATTER! (She storms out of the room, slamming the door loudly behind her.)