In Macbeth, the overarching meta-symbol was the cauldron: the ingredients in the play were symbols of the ingredients in the cauldron that in turn were symbols of the ingredients in the poisoned chalice: the blood that sealed Satan’s death.
In Hamlet, the entire play is the vessel containing the ingredients given to him by his father. God, the father, gave Jesus, his beloved son the metaphorical cup (his mission) from which he drank in order to fulfil the law and ‘poison’ Satan. Likewise the spirit of Hamlet’s father gives him a metaphorical cup from which to drink that sacrifices his son’s life to fulfil the law and seal the death of the tyrant Claudius.
One day, a young Dane with a beautiful wife and two fine children gets a mysterious letter. Although they love each other deeply, he has been out of work for several years and they have been forced to live in squalid conditions. They have very little money, a very small TV, and have to eat cheap, unhealthy food.
The letter is an answer to their prayers. It was from a firm of expensive lawyers. A very wealthy, distant cousin has died leaving his entire estate to the young man: a great fortune and a fabulous new house.
As soon as they could, they moved into the new house. The children had bedroom suites to themselves, there were 60” TV’s in every room, and the huge fridge was stuffed full with delicious goodies.
The house was big, and bright, and beautiful. It had an indoor heated pool, a Jacuzzi, and fully-fitted gym. The garden was full of roses and they had a lovely view over the state of Denmark.
They were blissfully happy. Even the ‘funny smell’ they all noticed at first didn’t matter at all. They knew they’d just get used to it.
After about a year, they found that not only was the ‘funny smell’ not so funny, but their health was deteriorating. Although they had everything they’d always dreamt of, they could not really enjoy any of it. They could never get a good night’s sleep. They had awful nightmares. The doctors were puzzled. The surveyors could find no cause for the ‘funny smell’.
After another year, they had spent all their money, they all became incurably sick. And eventually they all died from unknown causes.
The estate was sold, and the new buyers had heard all about the plight of the tragic young couple. Rumours were rife about a ‘haunted house’ or the ‘curse’ they had inherited, etc. So they tore down the entire edifice and began to dig a whole new foundation.
What they found, buried deep beneath astonished them. It was an ancient plumbing system of great beauty and intricacy. Every small detail was preserved. It was perfect in every way. It was even still functional, but deep inside, totally rotten. The rotting human waste and excrement from ages past was sending off noxious gas, and toxins were seeping into the new water supply.
It seems the original builder of the house, the rich cousin, was so enamoured with, so attached to the magnificence of the traditional plumbing system used by his ancestors, when he built the new house, he did not have the heart to get rid of it. He simply kept the old plumbing system entire and plumbed in the new system on top of it.
Now the cause of the old problem had been found, it was easy to cut it all out, place it in a museum where it could still be a valuable source of knowledge, and build another new house on clean, solid foundations