“The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.” I-LAND, the audition program where the members of ENHYPEN were selected, opens with these lines from the Hermann Hesse novel Demian. Rather than break the egg, the bird “fights” it (kämpfen), and the phrase, “must first destroy a world,” stressed in this passage, is connected to the reality that the members of ENHYPEN experienced. Because they debuted on I-LAND, the members had to “break out of the egg,” and on ENHYPEN’s album BORDER: DAY ONE, they must go to live in a new world. The references of Demian on I-LAND, and the works of Shakespeare imprinted throughout ENHYPEN’s debut album, BORDER: DAY ONE, present a framework in which they can see, from various perspectives, the path they have walked so far and the road that lies ahead. From the album’s first song, “Intro: Walk the Line,” to the lead single “Given-Taken,” till arriving at the final song, “Outro: Cross the Line,” we found the traces of Shakespeare that are woven into ENHYPEN’s debut album, and investigated what meaning they have “given” and how ENHYPEN has “taken” that meaning.

Walk the Line, Hear the Sonnet
“Intro: Walk the Line” adopts Shakespeare’s Sonnet 11 in its lyrics. The “carved” in the line, “because the world carved us on that line,” in the narration of “Intro: Walk the Line” is the same “carv’d” in Sonnet 11’s “she carv’d thee for her seal.” Moreover, the sonnet depicts a man who will inevitably grow old and die, and thus must leave a copy of himself in the world, while in a subsequent Sonnet the poet suggests that, beyond fathering offspring, the man’s name could be remembered in perpetuity by glorifying him throughout the poems. There are further implications of this idea of immortality via the adoption of Sonnet 11, especially considering the associative backdrop of vampires throughout the album BORDER: DAY ONE.

As in Sonnet 11, where the subject “thee” is carved as a seal of “wisdom, beauty and prosperity,” the vampires in the music video, who have seemingly lived with their beauty for hundreds of years, appear to be transformed into an image of the timelessness of beauty. For the members of ENHYPEN, who debuted through the competition on I-LAND, the “rugged woods at [their] back” as they “greet the sun” in “Intro: Walk the Line” is a sign of survival and a metaphor for a new world. This transitions into the sun shining on the boys in the final scene of their second trailer, “Dusk-Dawn.” In Sonnet 11, the man is “meant thereby / [To] print more, not let that copy die,” which is connected to the reason ENHYPEN are “carving sunrise burning bright, across the world”: the desire, as idols who will want to be remembered, to survive and to last forever. Interestingly, if we focus on the word “carved,” we see that, unlike in Shakespeare’s sonnet, where it appears in the passive voice, when the word is borrowed for this lyric in “Intro: Walk the Line,” it is instead changed to the active “carving.” Walking along “that line” on which “the world carved” for them is an action close to the “given” among the “given and taken” with which they had been struggling. After this, however, they walk while “carving sunrise burning bright, across the world.” As with the previously mentioned “fight” (kämpfen) in Demian, given that “carving” also requires an individual’s effort, the switch to the active “carving” symbolizes the effort “taken” without knowing whether “the world that unfolds is … what [they] are given.”

In addition, although there is no direct connection to Shakespeare, the words camminare sulla linea in the narration for “Intro: Walk the Line” means “walk the line” in Italian. Coincidentally, Italy was the birthplace of the sonnet in the 13th century. Furthermore, the climax of the introduction, “We walk under the first day's sun / Every step we take, agony turns to bliss,” suggests the couplet format in which a pair of lines provides climactic resolution. “Intro: Walk the Line” derives from the sonnet in both content and form, adding a classical atmosphere to the fantasy narrative of ENHYPEN.

Given or Taken, That’s the Question
“Given-Taken” draws from Sonnet 148 and a monologue from the play Hamlet. “The sun itself sees not till heaven clears,” from Sonnet 148, is connected to the lyrics, “Eyes of the sun / That light burned me / That light blinded me.” In the sonnet, the poet talks about the woman he loves: how she is different from the ideal woman of the era, and how, even if she caused trouble between the poet and his friend, he has no choice but to love her. The essence of Shakespeare's sonnet is the insight into blind love: Due to “cunning love,” the poet is so agonized and “vex’d with watching and with tears” that he cannot even use “true sight,” and so his eyes “censur[e] falsely” what he sees. This is metaphorically expressed in the line, “The sun itself sees not till heaven clears,” and is connected with ENHYPEN’s narrative in “Given-Taken.”

In the first teaser video for “Given-Taken,” the members walk together and look up at the sky and see the sun, a symbol of the first new world, and in the second teaser, a clear sky that allows that lights up the members. The sun shines brightly but it can burn them, and a clear sky enables them to look up into it. This can be an articulation of the idea of vampires, to whom the sun represents their fatal weakness, or it may be about the attributes of human beings of not being able to reflect on oneself properly under the grandeur and fame that the brilliant light symbolizes. Given that “Given-Taken” addresses what is given and what is fought for, it can be interpreted as ENHYPEN within the song narrative and the situation in which the real-life ENHYPEN is in, and it also relates to the content of Sonnet 148. To that end, the question of “given or taken” that encapsulates the song is reminiscent of the most famous line from Hamlet: “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
The anguish of “to be, or not to be” in Hamlet is altered into the question of whether ENHYPEN have been given or have taken their present achievements, while the expression “arrows of outrageous fortune” in Hamlet is changed into “a shower of fate’s arrow” in “Given-Taken” which expresses how things ENYPEN want and what they want to take have already come to pass, and allows the listener to intuitively sense what will happen moving forward. From this vantage point, the throne on the red carpet, ruffle shirts with exaggerated frills, and blood-red objects in the DUSK version of the concept photos become fantastical reinterpretations of Hamlet.

But if ENHYPEN are to take what they are given, they must not waver indecisively the way Hamlet does. The scars on their faces and their ragged clothes in the DAWN version of the concept photos illustrates ENHYPEN’s perilous journey, and the lyrics, “I flip over the world / I step into the sky,” show the determination that has led to their resolution overcoming their anguish. If “to be, or not to be” in Hamlet not only means a choice between life and death but “to stay or not to stay” or, “to be here or not to be here,” this could pose the question of whether ENHYPEN will accept their present reality or overcoming it.

Outro: Cross the Line -
The line “Outro: Cross the Line,” “Evening shadows fall and / It must follow, as the night the day, / We wait for our given days and sleep,” overlaps with the lines of Polonius in Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man.” If translated literally, it suggests a realistic night where they “wait for [their] given days” and fall asleep, but once the connection to Hamlet is realized, an entirely different meaning arises. “Outro: Cross the Line” derives its lyric from the words Polonius says to his son, Laertes, who is leaving for France in Act 1, Scene 3 of the play. Polonius advises Laertes on what he must do to ensure an amicable relationship with others, such as not to reveal one’s innermost thoughts, to take proper care of good relationships, to reserve judgment, to value elegant clothing, to avoid financial trading, etc. Remarkably, among all his suggestions, his final piece of advice, which appears in “Outro: Cross the Line,” emphasizes the self: Be true to oneself and put oneself at the center; focus on oneself to, paradoxically, maintain one’s relationships with others.

While on I-LAND, each of the members of ENHYPEN had to prioritize themselves as “I.” However, because “as the night the day” means inescapable or inevitable, if you are true to yourself, you can’t be false to anyone, and the earnest pursuit of their debut is inevitably connected to coexisting peacefully with other members. Like the members are connected lying against one another in the DAWN version of the concept photos; like the way they start to gather around and face the same direction in the second trailer, “Dusk-Dawn”; like the hyphen - which is reminiscent of their group name - connects one word with another to finally form a sentence; by connecting themselves, they develop and grow in order to survive. Now, “as the night the day,” ENHYPEN is gathered as one, crossing a hyphen-shaped boundary from where “days like a flipped carnival / Where up is down and down is up / And life is mixed with death / Are what we must survive,” and greet a new world.
The world they will meet in the album and in real life.

Article. Minji Oh
Photo Credit. BELIFT LAB