HAMLET AND BREAKING BAD (COMMENT). Nick commented here on my post on Brecht’s theory that the fourth act of Hamlet consisted of out takes that grew out of Shakespeare’s struggles with making the plot work. Nick said: “Pretty classic story structure, if you ask me.”

I have come across this article on the Vox website by Todd VanDerWerff which compares Shakespeare’s typical five act structure with the structure of a multi-year TV series, as represented by Breaking Bad. VanDerWerff says: “the five-act structure gives both the buildup to and fall from the climax whole acts to breathe. Instead of getting stuck in a never-ending second act, much of the story is pushed to the fourth act….” About the fourth act, he says: “Act 4: The characters, trapped by fate but not yet cognizant of it, are sucked toward the endgame. In a tragedy, this is often when the body count begins to mount (or the audience can see this coming).”

I agree with Nick. It seems to me now that Brecht’s theories are about Brecht, the playwright, and not about Shakespeare. The Brecht plays I have seen have very simple plots and minimal dramatic tension. It makes sense that he would not like Hamlet’s plot complexities.

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