Twin Peaks and Hamlet are two of my favorite stories. They have a lot in common: both are murder mysteries with far too many characters and subplots; both deal with themes of corruption, mortality, domestic violence, and the terrifying unknowability of nature and of the life to come; both prominently feature the troublingly fetishized body of a drowned girl, as well as two guys getting into a fight at her funeral over who loved her more; both depict young people struggling to figure out right and wrong in the absence of good parental guidance; both feature ghosts, doppelgängers, spooky poetry, threatening letters, comic relief characters who are more disturbing than funny, and messages transmitted from another world. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years debating which characters from each text most closely correspond, and I’ve decided to settle the question once and for all. Here is the definitive, authoritative guide to which characters from Twin Peaks are which characters in Hamlet.
Laura Palmer is Ophelia.
There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.
Bobby Briggs is Laertes.
How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with:
To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil!
Let come what comes; only I’ll be revenged
Most thoroughly for my father.
Pete Martell is Polonius.
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
That he is mad, ’tis true: ’tis true ’tis pity;
And pity ’tis ’tis true: a foolish figure;
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect,
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause:
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend.
James Hurley is Prince Hamlet.
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
Donna Hayward is Horatio.
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!*
Andy Brennan and Lucy Moran are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, respectively.
-My lord, you once did love me.
-Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and start not so wildly from my affair.
Ed Hurley is The Ghost of King Hamlet.
But know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
Now wears his crown.
Ben Horne is Claudius.
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
Catherine Martell is Gertrude.
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!
Dr. Lawrence Jacoby is Osric.
Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his majesty.
Special Agent Dale Cooper is the Player King.
But if the gods themselves did see her then
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs,
The instant burst of clamour that she made,
Unless things mortal move them not at all,
Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven,
And passion in the gods.
Special Agent Denise Bryson is the Player Queen.
O, confound the rest!
Such love must needs be treason in my breast:
In second husband let me be accurst!
None wed the second but who kill’d the first.
Sheriff Harry S. Truman is the First Gravedigger.
(Deputy Andy doubles as the Second Gravedigger.)
I’ faith, if he be not rotten before he die–as we have many pocky corses now-a-days, that will scarce hold the laying in–he will last you some eight year or nine year.
Audrey Horne is Fortinbras.
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.
and Margaret Lanterman, AKA “The Log Lady,” is Marcellus.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
*Note: In the interest of limiting the scope of this article, I have tried to avoid editorializing as much as possible. However, I do want to clarify that, although Hamlet and Horatio are in love, and although Donna and James date in Twin Peaks, in the Hamlet/Twin Peaks crossover universe, Donna-Horatio and James-Hamlet are in no way romantically involved. The “sweet prince” to whom Donna is referring is, of course, Laura.
6 thoughts on “Twin Peaks Characters as the Cast of Hamlet: A Listicle”
This is great! The Laura/James/Bobby stuff, with the drowned girl and the fight at the funeral, seems pretty clearly like a reference to Hamlet and I also really like your idea of agent Cooper as the Player King, the visitor and outsider in the story. It reminds me of how The Player had a prominent role in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. Agent Bryson as the Player Queen (a crossdresser, as she would have been in Shakespeare’s days) – brilliant.
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I also think agent cooper’s real virtuosity is his empathy emotional intelligence which also connects him to the player king
True, and the way Cooper is always collected and in control of his emotions mirrors the First Player’s ability to control his emotions, which Hamlet envies him for after the Hecuba speech. I’m thinking Cooper has a bit of Hamlet in him as well, with his brooding and his interest in the supernatural, but, like the Player, he is in that case a better version of Hamlet, one without the spontaneous outbursts of anger and violence. And Cooper was the character that, if I recall correctly, paraphrased Hamlet’s “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy”..
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I do not know what Twin Peaks is or any of the characters, but that Osric is the most Osric looking person I have ever seen.
I think Polonius is actually Bobby’s dad. I mean, the long-winded speeches with which he was trying to teach Bobby? That’s Polonius TM.
100% agree about Ophelia and the funeral. I watched the scene just today and I was like O.O Leland even threw himself at the coffin lol